Narrative theory in halloween (1978)
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Narrative theory in halloween (1978)
NARRATIVE THEORY IN HALLOWEEN
Todorov‟s theory is that all movies start with an equilibrium or normality. This does not apply
to Halloween. One of the first things that happen in the movie is Michael Myers killing his
sister. This is not a normal thing to happen. The movie has already jumped to what Todorov
says comes next – disequilibrium, another word for the main disruption of the movie. This has
already happened and is still happening for a lot of the movie. There are brief moments
between the disequilibrium where there is equilibrium with normal things happening, for
example, the babysitting is quite normal and calm for a little while. The final part of Todorov ‟s
theory is that there is a „new equilibrium‟ at the close of the movie. This means that
everything is calm now and normal and has gone back to how it was at the „equilibrium‟. This
does not relate to Halloween because at the end of the movie nothing has gone back to
normal. Nothing is calm because Dr Loomis, Myers‟ primary psychiatrist, has just shot Myers
who has fallen over the balcony and then disappeared. No one knows where he has gone.
He should be dead but he isn‟t, causing further panic from Dr Loomis and Laurie, the teenage
girl he is stalking, but he is still alive.
Vladimir Propp‟s theory was that there are eight different character types, but in Halloween, I
can only count three of them, the „Villain‟ (Myers), the „Hero‟ (Laurie) and the „Helper‟ ( Dr
Loomis). There is no „Donor‟ who is supposed to provide the hero with magic property. In
Halloween, Laurie fends for herself, finding or creating her own weapons to fight the villain.
There is no „Princess‟ who is supposed to be a „reward‟ for the hero. I think this relates to
Todorov‟s theory, with there being no „new equilibrium‟, which is when the hero is usually
rewarded. Laurie doesn‟t have time to be rewarded. Because of there being no „Princess‟
there is no „Father‟ of the princess to reward the „Hero‟. There is no „Dispatcher‟ who is
supposed to send the hero on his way. Again, this is because of the lack of the „new
equilibrium‟. This would usually happen here but without it, it can‟t happen. There is also no
„false hero‟. This is the person who appears to help the hero but actually doesn‟t. This could
maybe be applied to her friends, especially Annie, who seems to make things worse, but it‟s
Claude Levi-Strauss said narrative structure runs with binary opposites. This is where two
completely different sets of values that both feature in the movie for
example, past/present, know/unknown and humans/aliens. Many of these can be applied to
Halloween because it is quite a broad theory. „Good vs. Evil‟ would be the main binary
opposite in featuring in the film. Laurie and Dr Loomis would be the main „good‟ people
because they are the ones trying to defeat the „evil‟, Michael Myres. Other binary opposites
that feature are known vs. unknown. „Known‟ people, who are unmasked and we know what
they look like are Laurie and her friends and Dr Loomis and they are all being fought by the
„unknown‟, masked Michael Myres, who they don‟t know the identity of. Past vs. present
might also be applicable here. Myres is killing because of something he did in his past
(murder his sister in 1963, the past). He has been locked up in an asylum but has now
escaped and is set out to kill again on the anniversary of the murder of his sister in 1978 (the
present), continuing where he left off when he first got locked up. There is a fifteen year gap
between these dates.
Michael Myers as a child after murdering his sister
BORDWELL AND THOMPSON
Bordwell and Thompson came up with ideas about narrative rather than a full theory about it.
They described narrative as “a chain of events in a cause-effect relationship, occurring in time
This means that a film will start in one situation with a series of changes occurring according
to a pattern of cause and effect, then changing the situation and ending with it.
I think that this idea is not applicable to Halloween. The movie starts with an abnormal
situation of Myres‟ murder of his sister. It then jumps to 15 years later to a more normal
setting. It is here that the changes then effect the movie, as Myres comes back to kill again.
It doesn't fit because there is one abnormal situation for a while and then moves on a
significant amount of time, where the it changes to a new situation.
CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD NARRATIVE
Classic Hollywood Narrative (CHN) is a very simple narrative structure. The movie will start with a
„hero‟ being introduced. A „goal‟ for the „hero‟ is then identified, maybe another person or a physical
object like treasure. There is then an „obstacle‟ that will prevent the „hero‟ from getting to the „goal‟.
It could be anything, like an enemy or a lack of knowledge from the „hero‟. There is then the
„success‟ at the end of the movie where the „hero‟ eventually gets past the „obstacle‟ to reach the
„goal‟. The Classic Hollywood Narrative structure can be applied in part to Halloween. The
introduction of the „hero‟ happens relatively early on. Her appearance and the way she acts helps
the audience to identify the fact that she is the „hero‟. Dr Loomis could be considered as a „hero‟ but
isn‟t identified as one until later on, making the movie not fit as well with CHN. The „goal‟ is then
soon identified as getting rid of Myres who is stalking Laurie. The „obstacle‟ is seen to be the fact
that Myres is difficult to catch, he is hard to find at times and often sneaks up on Laurie and her
friends. Another thing is that no one is able to kill him. There are numerous occasions where Laurie
tries to kill or injure Myres for example with the knitting needle and with the coat hanger. At the end
of the movie Dr Loomis tries to kill Myres by shooting him, causing him to fall over the balcony. This
would kill a normal person, making Laurie and Dr Loomis think that they have reached the „goal‟ by
killing him. They look over the balcony to see him to discover that he has disappeared. He isn‟t
dead and the movie has ended. They never reach the goal.
Laurie is different to her friends.
She is carrying books, telling the
viewer that she is intelligent.
This helps the viewer identify that
she is a hero.
Laurie‟s friend Lynda is blonde and
seems as though she hasn‟t even
thought about what is happening.
Myres after being stabbed with
a knitting needle by Laurie
Myres sneaking up on Laurie
Laurie with a knife to defend
herself from Myres
Myres awakening after Laurie
tried to kill him