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Narrative theorists

G325 Section A Q1b Narrative theory

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Narrative theorists

  1. 1. A N A G R A M VANREITRA ? What is it? Write a short description of it in your own words You have 5 minutes to complete this task individually
  3. 3. LESSON OBJECTIVES • 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
  4. 4. 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 Narrative theory
  5. 5. INTRODUCTION TO NARRATIVE Narrative explores the conventions of: • Genre • Character • Form • Time The key events Includes information not shown Narrative = how is the story told? (as events unfold)
  6. 6. BORDWELL & THOMPSON David Bordwell, Kristin Thompson narrative Plot: The explicit presentation of the events which is usually less than the story and may be in a different order Story: 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
  7. 7. NARRATIVE STRUCTURE Linear : Beginning Middle End (Audience introduced to (Events –story builds) (Closure) characters and story) ? ! Open : The audience are left to wonder what happens next and make sense of it themselves (e.g. “Inception”) Closed : 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 Circular Structure: 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.
  8. 8. 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 http://quizlet.com/4162490/narrative-theorists-flash-cards/ Now test your knowledge:
  9. 9. MULTI-STRANDED NARRATIVE 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)
  10. 10. 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. An Ellipsis -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 audience As the missing time element can cause the audience to question what happened in the part not shown ?
  12. 12. “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?
  13. 13. NARRATIVE THEORISTS 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*
  14. 14. TODOROV Todorov describes narrative as going from equilibrium to disequilibrium back to an altered equilibrium
  15. 15. TODOROV Equilibrium: (sets the scene) Everyday Life Disruption: (complication) Something happens to alter the equilibrium Conflict: (climax) Trying to solve the problem (seek resolution) Resolution: Problem is sorted New Equilibrium: (satisfactory end) Back to normal (but never the same)- a new normal
  16. 16. LEVI-STRAUSS Levi-Strauss describes narrative as created by constant conflict of binary opposites Love – Hate Black – White Man – Nature Light – Darkness Peace – War Protagonist – Antagonist Movement – Stillness Civilized – Savage Young – Old Control – Panic Strong – Weak Man – Woman Wealth – Poverty Mankind – Aliens Humans – Technology Ignorance - Wisdom “Star Wars” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” “Avatar” “District 9” “The Searchers” “Slumdog Millionaire” Can you match them?
  17. 17. BARTHES Barthes describes narrative as a series of codes that are read and interpreted by the audience Referential
  18. 18. BARTHES CODES 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) Semic Code: something that the audience recognize through connotations Symbolic Code: 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)
  19. 19. PROPP 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 functions
  20. 20. 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
  21. 21. THE EXAM 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 researched. 6. Compare it to what you wrote about your product in relation to narrative
  22. 22. PLOT STORY NARRATIVE List the key events that the audience sees in the text (Unrestricted information) List parts of the story that inferred but not seen (Restricted information) Put both the story & plot into chronological order (Restricted & Unrestricted)
  23. 23. COMPARISON & CONTRAST WORDS Similarly different to unlike compared to In contrast whereas on the one hand on the other hand Although however