O SlideShare utiliza cookies para otimizar a funcionalidade e o desempenho do site, assim como para apresentar publicidade mais relevante aos nossos usuários. Se você continuar a navegar o site, você aceita o uso de cookies. Leia nosso Contrato do Usuário e nossa Política de Privacidade.
O SlideShare utiliza cookies para otimizar a funcionalidade e o desempenho do site, assim como para apresentar publicidade mais relevante aos nossos usuários. Se você continuar a utilizar o site, você aceita o uso de cookies. Leia nossa Política de Privacidade e nosso Contrato do Usuário para obter mais detalhes.
• Explain the basics of narrative theory
• Link narrative ideas to specific theorists
• Compare three different theorists views of narrative
• Evaluate own product in relation to two narrative theorist
Lesson 1 & 2
1 . S T O R Y & P L O T - B O R D W E L L & T H O M P S O N
2 . E N I G M A C O D E S – R O L A N D B A R T H E S
INTRODUCTION TO NARRATIVE
Narrative explores the conventions of:
• Time The key events
Narrative = how is the story told? (as events unfold)
BORDWELL & THOMPSON
David Bordwell, Kristin Thompson
The explicit presentation of the events
which is usually less than the story and may be in a different order
All the events
both those that are visually represented and those that are inferred.
"The set of all the events in a narrative, both the ones explicitly presented
and those the viewer infers, composes the story" Bordwell and Thompson
"The term plot is used to describe everything visible and
audibly present in the film before us" Bordwell and Thompson
Beginning Middle End
(Audience introduced to (Events –story builds) (Closure)
characters and story)
The audience are left to wonder what happens next and make sense of it themselves (e.g. “Inception”)
Definite ending – clear conclusion for the audience
Non-linear : The narrative doesn’t follow a sequential storyline and may begin at any point of the story
The narrative begins at the end (or middle of events ) often beginning with the climax.
The audience are taking on a journey arriving back where they started.
COMPLEX NARRATIVE STRUCTURE
Today’s narratives have become increasingly complex as producers know that
audiences have a greater sense of media literacy when it comes to making
meaning of the text and reading the signs. There are often numerous plot twists
and surprises that keep the audience intrigued with carefully spun storylines.
Films such as “Memento” (Nolan,2000) which weaves the story in reverse gives the
audience a similar experience to the protagonist who has short term memory
loss, as they try and fit the clues together through the use of restricted narrative.
Unrestricted Narrative: What the audience are assumed to know
e.g. In a thriller there will be a crime so they will be expecting it
Restricted Narrative: The information that is withheld from the audience
Now test your knowledge:
Many films have sub-plots where there are less significant storylines
happening parallel to the main story
Films also may have multi-stranded narratives where there are numerous
storylines of different characters . These stories often weave in and out of each
other with some sort of connection finally revealing itself at the end of the film.
Love Actually (2003)
An ellipsis is a break in time –used for narrative purposes
Cutting out intervening time between shots:
Man gets out of bed, seen shaving, next scene eats breakfast, leaves
house. We understand time has been cut out of a morning routine, as
filming in real time would take too long.
-consider how narratives have been played with in recent years –
e.g. Pulp Fiction, (episodic scenes in a seemingly random order)
Memento (film that plays in reverse –reflecting the confusions of the
main character who has short-term loss)
An ellipsis of time may also be used to create enigma for the
As the missing time element can cause the audience to question what
happened in the part not shown ?
“THE SOCIAL NETWORK” QUESTIONS
How are we introduced to the main character?
What information do we learn about him?
How do we learn this information?
How many storylines are there (is there a subplot)?
What is the overall storyline or narrative?
Put the sequence of events into a chronological timeline
Does it follow Todorov’s theory of narrative?
Is the structure linear or circular, open or closed?
There are many theorists who use theory to explain narrative structure.
We shall be studying four of them:
• Vladimir Propp
• Roland Barthes
• Tzvetan Todorov
• Claude Levi-Strauss
* You will only need to know two for your exam*
Todorov describes narrative as going from equilibrium to disequilibrium back to an
Equilibrium: (sets the scene)
Something happens to alter the equilibrium
Trying to solve the problem (seek resolution)
Problem is sorted
New Equilibrium: (satisfactory end)
Back to normal (but never the same)- a new normal
Levi-Strauss describes narrative as created by constant conflict of binary opposites
Love – Hate Black – White Man – Nature
Light – Darkness Peace – War Protagonist –
Movement – Stillness Civilized – Savage Young – Old
Control – Panic Strong – Weak Man – Woman
Wealth – Poverty Mankind – Aliens Humans –
Ignorance - Wisdom
“Star Wars” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” “Avatar” “District 9”
“The Searchers” “Slumdog Millionaire”
Can you match them?
Barthes describes narrative as a series of codes that are read and interpreted by
Action Code: (proairetic code)
something the audience knows and doesn't need explaining e.g. someone being
wheeled out on a stretcher tells us they are going to hospital
Enigma Code: (hermeneutic code)
something hidden from the audience (creates intrigue)
something that the audience recognize through connotations
Something that symbolizes a more abstract concept e.g. a darker than usual room of
a murder scene could symbolize the depth of darkness and depravity
Cultural Code: (referential code)
Something that is read with understanding due to cultural awareness (e.g. youth
culture use certain words that are understood by that culture)
Often used in Hollywood or Disney Films (with a happy ever after)
Background: 1895 —1970 Vladimir Propp was a Russian scholar who analysed
Russian folk tales (fairy tales) by their narrative structure.
He identifies 8 ‘types’ of characters:
• Hero (protagonist) has a mission of quest to complete (e.g.Luke Skywalker)
• Villain (antagonist) tries to stop the hero (Darth Vader)
• Princess love interest and/or object of the quest (Princess Leia)
• Father person with knowledge (Leia)
• Dispatcher sends the hero off (Obi Wan)
• Donor gives the hero something to help him (Obi Wan)
• Sidekick the helper (not as handsome as hero) –poss. comic relief (C3P0+)
• False hero villain that pretends to be good in order to trick the hero
Propp’s theory of narrative is driven by the characters using a set of narrative
In addition to the characters Propp he says that it is narratemes (i.e.
narrative functions)-events that drive the narrative forward:
1. Family member leaves home -Hero introduced
2. Hero given a warning (e.g. not to do something)
3. Hero ignores the warning
4. Villain appears (e.g. trying to find jewels / children etc.)
5. Villain gains information about the victim
6. Villain attempts to trick the victim (guise / trickery)
7. Victim/ Hero is fooled by the villain
8. Villain causes harm or injury
9. Misfortune or lack is made known to Hero
10. Hero decides on counter-action
11. Hero leaves home
12. Hero is tested by the Donor
13. Hero responds to the test
14. Hero acquires a magical agent
15. Location / hero change to the place of lack
16. Hero and Villain in direct combat
17. Hero is branded (wounded / scarred)
18. Villain is defeated (killed)
19. Lack is met -resolution
20. Hero goes back home
21. Hero is pursued
22. Hero is rescued
23. Unrecognised Hero arrives home / another country
24. False hero claims Hero’s success
25. Difficult task is set
26. Hero resolves the task
27. True Hero now recognised
28. False hero exposed
29. Hero given transformation (new appearance e.g. new clothes)
30. Villain is punished
31. Hero marries and ascends the throne
Propp's 31 narrative functions
You will need to include media terminology
1. Give an introduction to what narrative is
2. Identify the types of narrative used in your Teaser Trailer (don’t forget to
include the TITLE)
3. Identify a theorist and explain their theory of narrative
4. Explain how your product supports or challenges the theory.
5. Now do the same again (2-4) with the real media text you
6. Compare it to what you wrote about your product in relation to
PLOT STORY NARRATIVE
List the key events that the
audience sees in the text
List parts of the story that inferred but
Put both the story & plot into
(Restricted & Unrestricted)
COMPARISON & CONTRAST WORDS
Similarly different to
In contrast whereas
on the one hand on the other