narrative theory

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  1. 1. L/O: To understand the narrative theories of Todorov, Barthes, Propp, Strauss -to be able to apply theory to films in order to identify and explain the theories
  2. 2. Suggested there are 5stages of narrative: (with 3 major parts) 1. EQUILIBRIUM (or normality) 2. DISEQUILIBRIUM (conflict/disruption of equilibrium by action or event 3. Recognition of DISEQUILIBRIUM (disruption/conflict) 4. Attempt to repair disequilibrium 5. NEW EQUILIBRIUM (new normality) Simply, it is the equivalent to the classic structure of beginning, middle, end.
  3. 3. This disruption of the initial equilibrium motivates the cause/effect chain of events that makes the plot of the film. Stages 2, 3, 4 may be repeated many times over before we reach the final stage of new equilibrium (end). Hence, the 'edge of our seats' experience (anticipation) is maintained by the lack of resolution. The full narrative structure establishes the audience's pleasure and satisfaction that are achieved by the resolution: 'happy ending'. Often, the new equilibrium involves a new state of being, where not only has order been RESTORED, but, some kind of learning process or improvement to life has taken place. In the case of franchise films (or trilogies), each film leaves the audience with some 'unfinished' aspect of the plot in order to prepare them for the sequel. Different genres will present this 5 stage process differently, occupying different typical disruptions and resolutions.
  4. 4. THINK OF DIFFERENT DISRUPTIONS/CONFLICTS AND RESOLUTIONS FOR DIFFERENT GENRES: Drama Action Horror Sci-fi Thriller Complete this sheet *When complete, take photo using iPad and put on powerpoint
  5. 5. Believed that our world is described in BINARY OPPOSITES. When we look at themes within stories and real life we realise they consist differences, contradictions and conflict or OPPOSITES. night/day good/bad dark/light male/female We subconsciously recognize the essential conflict in relation to narrative which familiarity in stories and films. Strauss believes these oppositions are fundamental to our ability to make meanings of our lives. For example, we only understand good when it is opposed to evil. He believed opposition offered structure to texts including stories, plays, books and films. In other media: Washing powder adverts: before/after contrast and effect to convince you to buy the product News reports: good/bad to present story simply
  6. 6. HERO VILLAIN Good Evil Native Outside Love Hate Handsome Ugly One of the most obvious opposites in film is the opposition of hero/villain
  7. 7. SETTLERS NATIVE AMERICANS Civilised Savage Christian Pagan Ordered society Town Outside society Wilderness Handsome Scarred
  8. 8. GOOD EVIL Day Night Light Dark Christian Supernatural Innocence Violation
  9. 9. There is a key problem with his theory (which is clear in above examples) Oppositions inevitably lead to a status of hierarchy, one side has to 'win' the conflict, which is tied to the structure of the narrative. Of course, the audience are expected to agree and favour the winning 'side'. This can create a dangerous 'norm' (example ideology of white, handsome, big muscles, strong, brave, male hero
  10. 10. Similar to Todorov's theory, the audiences experience of the narrative involves ANTICIPATION and EXPECTATION of a resolution to disruption/conflict; Barthes theory of codes encourage the audience to SEEK ANSWERS & CLUES to make them anticipate outcomes. Identified these by codes: Enigma Code Action Code Semantic Code Symbolic Code Cultural Code
  11. 11. Narratives set up as puzzles to be solved (ex content of letter, what is in a box/briefcase, why is killer killing a victim) It is basically portraying a mystery and raising questions as way to intrigue/draw in the audience Can be applied to any text, a story, a poster, film etc. These enigmas delay the ending/resolution to maintain audience interest and anticipation Answer to enigmas contribute to our enjoyment of resolution (new equilibrium) (in mainstream films) Sometimes enigmas left unresolved (often in less mainstream films)
  12. 12. Usually thriller, mystery based in which the question is Who is the killer and/or Why are they killing people Example: Saw Who is responsible? Why are they there?
  13. 13. Codes of behaviour and actions that lead audience us to expect certain consequences (based on other stories/films and their conventions)
  14. 14. THRILLER/MYSTERY SLASHER/HORROR ROMANCE Action: A) Killer/villain walks into room with gun/weapon B) Girl hiding from killer/villain Action: A) Going into dark alley or dark stairwell/room alone B) Being promiscuous or flirty/suggestive C) Virgin, good hearted female Action: Couple realise their actions and acknowledge their mistakes to each other Assumption: A) Victim(s) will get shot/hurt B) Girl will get found/taken Assumption: A) Will get killed B) Will get killed C) Will live Assumption: They will kiss and make up
  15. 15. Connotative (connotation) meanings of characters, objects, locations We learn from experience about these denotations & connotations Iconographic features work in same way
  16. 16. Pretty Woman American Beauty Carrie (Romance/Drama) (Drama) (Thriller/horror) Red dress = sexuality and love/passion Roses = sexuality/sexual desire Blood = Murder and violence
  17. 17. Hero is handsome, manly, good hearted Villain is disfigured, not as strong/, evil and selfish
  18. 18. Iconographic features have clear connotations and meanings to audience Spaceships & Aliens = sci-fi
  19. 19. Symbolic features often signify oppositions and antitheses (savage/civilised, light/dark) Ex. in Thelma & Louise = male repressive world and female escape (this is represented/expressed symbolically through interiors/actions of male/female.....male = dark, trapped, repressive, abusive......female = light, free, airy, justice etc
  20. 20. Even after committed crime, have to regrets and want to keep running, keep committing crimes Feeling positive and free after leaving repressive marriages, are together and Thelma saves Louise (free in sunshine) Drive away in open space, drive forward (running away), dont look back In convertible = open space (freedom) Even when about to get caught, drive off edge (to not be constricted in jail)
  21. 21. Louises husband is unsuccessful, abusive and controlling The young man Louise sleeps with seems charming, but is a criminal and a thief who steals their money The man Louise meets in a bar is drunk, creepy, abusive and rapes her after she refuses sex Thelmas husband has a good heart but isnt a man of achievement or success The truck driver who drives beside them when they are driving is a lonesome and desperate man, is restricted to be in a truck all day and night
  22. 22. Outside of text and knowledge we commonly share to bring understanding of the meaning in the text. Often references to things in popular culture and historical events. Ex In modern adaption of 'Romeo & Juliet' there are a wide range of modern interpretations we know as modern (were not in original story): guns, corporations, locations such as petrol stations, setting in multicultural environment, drag queens, drugs, cars, lifts, etc
  23. 23. We use our these cultural references to ENHANCE our reading and understanding of the text Sometimes films are set and revolve around a particular (real) historical event or era....our understanding of these time periods or events again enhances our understanding. Example: Full Monty = set in a time which is dealing with a financial recession due to decline in traditional British industries (Think of films that are set around the events of 9/11 or other wars.
  24. 24. Studied folklore, fairytales and legends in many countries and noticed many similarities in them; similar character types and same problems. He formed 2 theories, the first is about 7 distinctive character types called 'Spheres of Action'. Because they are based on historic fairy tales and folklore, this theory might seem very recognizable and rather simplistic. Just remember these stories are often children's tales which need to be simplistic.
  25. 25. 1. Hero 2. Villain 3. Dispatcher 4. Donor 5. Helper 6. Heroine 7. False Hero
  26. 26. On quest/search Traditionally male (not always) protagonist, role is to restore disequilibrium (usually by defeating the villain for winning love of heroine (princess)
  27. 27. Opposes the hero (antihesis) Cause of disruption Often threat to safety of heroine
  28. 28. Starts hero on it's way (usually to restore the disequilibrium) Often father of heroine He (or she) sends hero off so he can prove his worth (often before winning love of heroine)
  29. 29. Helps hero by giving him 'magic' tool/gift to help him on journey The tool/gift may be advice, a skill or an object such as weapon
  30. 30. Assists/helps hero in restoring normality/equilibrium Like a 'sidekick' (with for whole or part of journey...can meet on way)
  31. 31. Often referred to as 'Princess' in traditional narratives Usually female but not always More passive and vulnerable character; threatened by the villain and needing rescuing by the hero Often in love (or ends up with hero)
  32. 32. Initially on side of hero but then turns against or deceives him/her Tempts hero away from quest N/A
  33. 33. Brother of King Mufasa, uncle to Simba Seems caring of Simba Tempts him but really sets him up to be killed (so he can be King)
  34. 34. Of course these character roles are manipulated and changed in films and texts (or some not there at all) and others will use more updated/modern versions for example different re