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Database Narrative: Slides for a guest class in screenwriting

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  1. 1. database narrativesean cubitt15 March 2013 the idea becomes a machine that makes the art (Sol Lewitt)
  2. 2. traditional narrative arc in a nutshellVanishing Point, 1971, Richard C. Sarafian
  3. 3. Richard Thompson1952 Vincent Black Lightning Says James, in my opinion, there’s nothing in this world Beats a 52 Vincent and a red headed girlSaid Red Molly to James that’s a fine motorbike Now Nortons and Indians and Greeveses won’t doA girl could feel special on any such like They don’t have a soul like a Vincent 52Said James to Red Molly, well my hat’s off to you He reached for her hand and he slipped her the keysIt’s a Vincent Black Lightning, 1952 He said I’ve got no further use for theseAnd I’ve seen you at the corners and cafes it seems I see angels on Ariels in leather and chromeRed hair and black leather, my favorite color scheme Swooping down from heaven to carry me homeAnd he pulled her on behind And he gave her one last kiss and diedAnd down to Box Hill they did ride And he gave her his Vincent to rideSaid James to Red Molly, here’s a ring for your right handBut I’ll tell you in earnest I’m a dangerous manI’ve fought with the law since I was seventeenI robbed many a man to get my Vincent machine I’m 21 years, I might make 22And I don’t mind dying, but for the love of youAnd if fate should break my strideThen I’ll give you my Vincent to rideCome down, come down, Red Molly, called Sergeant McRaeFor they’ve taken young James Adie for armed robberyShotgun blast hit his chest, left nothing insideOh, come down, Red Molly to his dying bedsideWhen she came to the hospital, there wasn’t much leftHe was running out of road, he was running out of breathBut he smiled to see her cryAnd said I’ll give you my Vincent to ride
  4. 4. Vladimir Propp - Narratology and the russian folk taleAccording to Propp all Russion folk tales contain some or all of the following narrative moments and no others. Even if some do not appear, the others alwaysappear in the same order (and some may be repeated)Initial situation 1 One of the family members leaves home distancing 21. Hero is pursued pursuit The2. Interdiction (or an order) interdiction 22. Hero is helped help The3. Interdiction transgressed (order not obeyed) transgression 4. The Villain tries to obtain information interrogation Brothers steal the object of the quest 5. The Villain receives information about his victim information variation6. The Villain attempts to trick the victim trickery The Hero recommences the quest 7. The victim is tricked, so helping the Villain complicity variation8. The Villain harms one of the family harm The Hero is tested again 8a. A family member needs or wants something lack variation9. News of the harm or lack reaches the Hero mediation New reaction to the Donor 10. The Hero accepts the quest or decides to act start of counter variation -action The Hero receives a new magic object 11. The Hero leaves home departure variation12. The Hero is tested by the Donor 1st function The Hero arrives once more near the object of the quest of Donor variation13. The Hero reacts reaction of Hero14. Magic object given to Hero reception of 23. The Hero arrives home incognito disguise magic object 24. The False Hero tells lies lying 15. Hero travels towards object of the quest journey 25. The Hero is given a difficult task task (with guide) 26. The task is accomplished task accomplished16. Hero and Villain come into conflict combat 27 The Hero is recognised recognition17. receives a mark mark Hero 28. The False Hero or Villain is unmasked unmasking18. Villain is defeated victory The 29. The Hero gains a new appearance transfiguration19. Inital hurt or lack repaired reparation 30. The False Hero or Villain is punished punishment20. Hero returns return The 31. The Hero marries and ascends the throne marriage
  5. 5. Cadmus, the eldest brother of Europa, is sent by his father to find her after she had been wooed by Zeus in the form of abull. The Delphic Oracle tells him to give up the search, and instead to follow a cow and build a city wherever she wouldsink down for weariness. Buying a cow, he follows her through Boetia to the place where Thebes now stands until she liesdown. His companions are attacked and killed by the serpent-dragon living in the nearby Castalian Spring, but Cadmuskills the dragon and sacrifices the cow to Athena. She appears and tells him to sow the serpent’s teeth. When he obeys,they spring from the ground as armed warrors, the Spartoi. Cadmus throws a stonme among them, and they begin todestroy each other till only five are left. who serve Cadmus faithfully.Cadmus resigned the throne of Thebes to his grandson Pentheus, who begat Labdacus, who begat Laius. Laius marriedJocasta and uled over Thebes. Childless, he consulted the Delphic Oracle, who told him that his son would kill him andmarry his mother. Jocasta fell pregnant and when the child was born, Laius pierced the boy’s feet with a nail and left himon Mount Cithaeron. A shpherd found him and named him Oedipus because his feet were deformed. Growing in years,Oedipus in his turn asked the Delphic Oracle what the future held for him. She replied ‘Away you wretch! You will killyour father ansd marry your mother’. Not wishing to harm his adopted parents, Oedipus fled.On the road he met proud King Laius, and slew him. Laius had been on the way to the Oracle to ask how to rind the cityof Thebes from the Sphynx, a terrible creature with a woman’s head, lion’s body, serpent’s tail and eagle’s wings. TheSphynx would ask ebvery traveller the same rifddle. If they could not answer, she throttled and evoured them on thespot.As Oedipus travelled towards he Thebes he met the Sphynx. This was her riddle.‘What creature walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three legs in the evening?’‘Man’, he replied, ‘because he crawls on all fours as an infant, stands on his own two feet in his prime, and leans upon astaff in his old age’. The Sphynx in horror leapt to her death from Mount Phicium.As a reward for lifting this curse, Oedipus ascended the throne of Thebes and married the Queen, his own mother Jo-casta, laius’ widow. She bore him two sons, Polyneices and Eteocles, and a daughter, Antigone. Finally however, a plaguedescended on the city, and Tiresias, the blind seer, revealed that the King was a patricide and in an incestuous union.Driven out of the city, Oedipus blinded himself in remorse, and dies, accompanied only by Antigone, in the sacred oakgrove at Colonnus.His twin brother-sons, Eteocles and Polyneices, accursed by their father, fell to warring with each other, When Polynei-ces finally fell in battle, the dictator Creon, who had seized power, decreed that no-one should give the corpse its sacredrites. But Antigone buried her brother Polyneices, and as punishment was sent to be buried alive . . . .
  6. 6. SYNTAGMATIC AXIS => Cadmus seeks Cadmus kills the his sister Eu- dragon<= PARADIGMATIC AXIS => ropa, ravished by Zeus Oedipus kills The Spartoi kill Labdacos (Laius’ his father, Lai- each other father) = lame? us Oedipus mar- Oedipus kills the Laius (Oedipus’ ries his moth- Sphynx father) = left-sid- er, Jocasta ed? Eteocles kills Oedipus = swol- his brother, len-foot ? Polyneices
  7. 7. Lévi-Strauss explains that ‘the first column has as its common feature the overratingof blood relations. It is obvious that the second column expresses the same thingbut inverted: underrating of blood relations. The third column refers to monstersbeing slain. As to the fourth column . . . all the hypothetical meanings . . refer todifficulties in walking .’ (Lévi-Strauss 1963: 214-5). He explains that dragon is ctho-nian, that is, born of the earth, and is killed. The Sphynx kills men. Both share thequality of denying the autocthonous (born of earth) origins of men. The fourthcolumn draws on a tradition in which men born of the earth have trouble walkingor are maimed, which therefore is characterised by the persistence of the autoctho-nous origin of men.Lévi-Strauss concludes that the Oedipus legend deals with ‘the inability, for a cul-ture which holds the belief that man is autocthonous, . . . to find a satisfactory tran-sition between this theory and the knowledge that human beings are actually bornfrom the union of man and woman Although the problem obviously cannot besolved, the Oedipus myth provides a kind of logical tool which relates the originalproblem – born of one or born of two? – to the derivative problem: born from dif-ferent or born from same?’ (Lévi-Strauss 1963: 216).Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Structural Study of Myth,
  8. 8. Zbig Rybczinski, The New Book, 1975
  9. 9. Wojciech Has, The Saragossa Manuscript, 1965Plot Outline:
  10. 10. Russian Ark, Alexander Sokurov, 2002
  11. 11. Run Lola Run, 1998, Tom Tykwer
  12. 12. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Guy Ritchie, 1998Plot Outline:,_Stock_and_Two_Smoking_Barrels
  13. 13. The Big Brother house
  14. 14. diagrams by Sergio Circone
  15. 15. A broad rereading of the work confirmed the theory. In all fictional works, each time a man is confronted with several alternatives, he chooses one and eliminates the others; in the fiction of Ts’ui Pên, he chooses – simultaneously – all of them. He creates, in this way, diverse futures, diverse times which themselves also proliferate and fork. Here, then, is the explanation of the novel’s contradictions. Fang, let us say, has a secret; a stranger calls at his door; Fang resolves to kill him. Naturally, there are several possible outcomes: Fang can kill the intruder, the intruder can kill Fang, they both can escape, they both can die, and so forth. In the work of Ts’ui Pên, all possible outcomes occur; each one is the point of departure for other forkings. Sometimes, the paths of this labyrinth converge: for example, you arrive at this house, but in one of the possible pasts you are my enemy, in another, my friend.Borges, Jorge Luis (1964). The Garden of the Forking Paths. In: Yates, Donald A. & Irby, James E. (eds.), Labyrinths. New York: New Directions.