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Text of Narrative theory
- To understand what is meant by narrative and look at some examples of narrative theory.
2. Plot vs Narrative
- The plot of a film is everything that happens to the characters in chronological order.
- The narrative of a film is the coherence or organisation given to a sequence of events.
- It is up to the audience to decode the narrative and work out what the plot is.
3. For example, in Titanic
- The plot begins when several characters board an ocean liner
- The narrative shows one of the characters as an old woman who then relays her story of the ocean liner.
4. Storytime vs Screen Time
- The story time is the length of the entire story whereas the screen time is the length of the film.
- Usually the story time is longer than the screen time.
- Sometimes the story and screen times are the same (eg 24 (arguably!))
- Can you think of a possible way that the screen time could be longer than the story time?
5. Time Manipulation
- Summary (e.g time compression)
- Ellipsis (cutting out intervening time)
6. Location Manipulation
- Separate shots of different locations audience assumes they must be related.
- Often associated with genre and form spaceships.
7. Todorovsa pproach ton arrative
- There arefivestages a narrative has to passt hrough:
- The state ofequilibrium(state of normality good, bad or neutral) .
- A neventdisrupts theequil i brium (a character or an action) .
- The mainprotagonistrecognises that the equilibrium has been disrupted.
- Protagonist attempts to rectify this in order torestore equilibrium .
- Equilibrium is restored but, because causal transformations have occurred, there are differences (good, bad, or neutral) from original equilibrium, which establish it as anew equilibrium .
8. Propps approach to narrative
- Vladimir Propp studied hundreds of Russian folk and fairytales before deciding that all narratives have a common structure.
- He observed that narratives are shaped and directed by certain types of characters and specific kinds of actions
- He believed that there are 31 possible stages orfunctions in any narrative
- These may not all appear in a single story, but nevertheless always appear in the same sequence.
- A function is a plot motif or event in the story.
- A tale may skip functions but it cannot shuffle their unvarying order.
9. Propps approach to narrative
- Villain struggles with hero
- Donorprepares and/or provides hero with magical agent
- Helperassists, rescues, solves and/or transfigures the hero
- Princessa sought-for person (and/or her father) who exists as goal and often recognises and marries hero and/or punishes villain
- Herodeparts on a search (seeker-hero), reacts to donor and weds at end
- False Heroclaims to be the hero, often seeking and reacting like a real hero
Propp believed that there are seven roles which any character may assume in the story: 10. Examples of Propps narrative functions
11. Claude Levi-Strausss approach to narrative
- After studying hundreds of myths and legends from around the world, Levi-Strauss observedthat we make sense of the world, people and events by seeing and usingbinary oppositeseverywhere.
- He observed that all narratives are organised around theconflictbetween such binary opposites.
12. Examples of binary opposites
- Democracy vs dictatorship
- First world vs third world
- Domestic vs foreign/alien
- Articulate vs inarticulate
- Protagonist vs antagonist
13. Roland Barthes Codes
- Action codes symbolic/iconographic images that communicate events from the narrative, e.g. characters brushing hands to retrieve spilled papers suggest that they are falling in love
- Enigma codes questions raised by a narrative that the audience yearn to answer