Narrative theory - Ceren&Kerry

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  • Narrative Theory By Kerry and Cezza K
  • Story is the irreducible substance of a story (A meets B, something happens, order returns) whilst narrative is the way the story is related (Once upon a time etc) Key Concepts in Communication Fiske el al In Media studies, looking at narrative structure implies that we explore the way in which the information is contained within a text that is revealed to us. Media Studies: The Essential Resource Rayner, Wall & Kruger Narrative
  • Levi-Strauss French anthropologist Proposes narrative is presented through binary opposites Opposite ideologies that when presented together have symbolic connotations Good vs bad Savage vs civilised Strong vs weak Ugly vs beautiful
  • Binary Opposites & Title Sequence Particularly as our piece was of the horror genre, we incorporated binary opposites Dark vs light : we contrasted dull, dark lighting of the dirty woods with the white wall that had childhood photographs to construct an uncomfortable, eerie atmostphere We inferred good vs evil through by suggesting an evil presence in the film through the dark cinematography (visually dark and we burnt photos of children) and eerie music (we distorted a nursery rhyme) Children could represent good/innocence; childhood photos being engulfed by flames is evil
  • Roland Barthes French theorist Proposed that texts were either open or closed, five narrative codes/devices 1) Proairetic/action any action elements in narrative, resolution reached through action, used to build tension 2) Hermenuetic/Enigma a part of the narrative that is unresolved, stimulates, pleases or frustrates the audience 3) Semantic code a part of the narrative that connotes or suggests a certain meaning, inferred meaning 4) Symbolic code uses opposites to demonstrate symbolism 5) Cultural narrative in which the audience accept something to be true, i.e science and religion, everyday knowledge that cannot be challenged, culturally dominant
  • Roland Barthes & Title Sequence Not all five codes can be applied to our product The Enigma code applies the most: we purposely did not infer to any specific narrative elements but instead focused on communicating the genre through the visuals The effect of this was to engage the audience and encourage them to watch the rest of our product We referred to the enigma code through the use of dark cinematography we employed shadows and dull lighting throughout to disorient the audience and our choice of eerie music also contributed to this
  • Roland Barthes & Title Sequence The symbolic code relates to binary opposition Also the semantic code: used symbols that had connotations of horror films Infer a supernatural element of our film by detailing the elements of water, fire and earth. Similarly, we used a dolls house to connote innocence so destroying it connoting the destruction of innocence Action code we ended our title sequence with the dolls house being burnt to represent tension reaching its climax, could be seen as the resolution of our title sequence
  • Vladmir Propp Analysed Russian folk tales in order to identify narrative structure Focuses on characters and the structure they bring to narrative The hero a character who seeks something The villain - who opposes or blocks the hero The donor - who helps the hero by providing an object with magical properties The dispatcher - sends the hero on his quest via a message The false hero disrupts the heros success by making false claims The helper aids the hero The princess reward for the hero and object of villains plot The princess father - acts to reward the hero for his effort
  • Propps Narrative Theory & Title Sequence We purposely opposed Propps narrative theory in our title sequence, no reference to a distinct narrative let alone character structures The effect of this was to make the audience uncomfortable; no element of familiarity, goes against the hegemony of narrative Felt it would be more effective to focus on visuals dark cinematography/ mise-en-scene and eerie music
  • Todorov Bulgarian essayist, proposes three-five stages of narrative, 1969 Equilibrium, disruption, new equilibrium 1) Equilibrium normality, in which the protagonists are comfortable/happy 2) Disruption something occurs to disrupt the normal order 3) Recognition the characters recognize that this disruption has occurred 4) Resolving an attempt to repair or resolve this disruption 5) Restoration either the previous equilibrium is restored or a NEW equilibrium is reinstated
  • Todorov Can be applied to most films Narratives do not need to be linear The progression from initial equilibrium to restoration always involves a transformation The middle period of narrative can depict actions that transgress everyday habits and routines
  • Todorov & title sequence Again did not specifically reference these three/five stages as a means of disorienting the audience by remaining vague Title sequence features the disruption stage of Todorovs theory By contrasting childhood photos (innocence) with images of horror connotations, our product disrupted normality or an equilibrium The effect of again is to make the audience uncomfortable and reflect the horror genre of our product