Propp's Narrative Theory


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Propp's Narrative Theory

  1. 1. Explained using Taken, a film from the action thriller genre
  2. 2. The Hero is traditionally the main character in the film who’s role is to restore order and in turn the equilibrium of the narrative. This tends to be achieved by defeating the Villain and saving the Heroine – who’s love the Hero is trying to capture. In the film Taken, the Hero is played by Brian Mills – who goes to find his daughter and bring her home to safety, as well as killing those who kidnapped her.
  3. 3. The Heroine is traditionally the vulnerable character in the film, taken by or under the pursuit of the Villain. The Heroine therefore needs rescuing by the Hero within the film in order for equilibrium to be restored. In the film Taken, the Heroine is played by Kim. When on a holiday in Paris she is kidnapped by sex traffickers, her father therefore comes to find and rescue her.
  4. 4. The Villain is usually the cause of disruption in the film and needs to be defeated by the Hero for peace to resume again. The Villain also poses a threat to Heroine’s safety – this is also why the Hero feels the need to overcome them. In Taken, there are 3 villains. These are the men that possess Kim during the film; Marco, Patrice Saint-Clair and an unknown man - all are killed by Brian.
  5. 5. The Dispatcher is the character which sends the Hero on his journey to restore equilibrium to the narrative. This in turn, then gives the Hero a chance to prove his worth. He achieves this by overcoming the Villain and saving the Heroine. In Taken, the Dispatchers are both the Hero himself and Lenore. Brian Mills had already decided to go and find his daughter, but Kim’s mother asked him to do this also.
  6. 6. The Donor in the film gives something to the Hero towards the beginning of the film to help him on his journey or to help him start it. Traditionally this is something magical however it could be a physical object or information. In Taken, the Donor is Brian’s friend Sam who gives him the vital information at the beginning of the film of who it is that ha his daughter Kim.
  7. 7. The Helper assists the Hero throughout the film in re-establishing the equilibrium. This may be in the form of a sidekick which is the traditional place that a helper takes, or helpful in a less direct form – supporting morally or from a distance. In Taken there is no Helper, Brian goes abut saving Kim with lots of little help from different sources, the majority of the journey is done predominantly solo.
  8. 8. The False Hero begins the film seeming to be on the side of the Hero, giving him advice or such to help him complete his journey. But then, later on in the film, the False Hero ‘shows his true colours’ and deceives the Hero or turns against him. In Taken the False Hero is Jean-Claude Pitrel, who at first gives Brian information to help him find his daughter, however later on hands him to the police.
  9. 9. Through Propp’s Narrative Theory we can conclude that films share the same structure with the same basic character layout, and our various narrative experiences allow us to subconsciously recognise these different roles. However not all narratives will include all these characters, and the roles may have variations from these stereotypes.