Narrative theory 2015
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Narrative theory 2015
“Narrative involves the viewer in making sense
of what is seen, asking questions of what we see
and anticipating the answers. In particular,
narrative invites us to ask both what is going to
happen next and when and how will it all end.
Narrative operates on the tension between our
anticipation of likely outcomes drawn from
genre conventions and the capacity to surprise
or frustrate our expectations.”
He stated that texts can be open (Variety of
different meanings) or closed (Dominant
Barthes decided that the processes we use to
unravel meaning are called narrative codes and
that they could be categorised in the following
•Action or proiaretic code and enigma code (ie.
Answers & questions) to integrate the viewer
•Symbols & Signs (semiotics)
•Points of Cultural Reference (your culture’s
value and belief system – your interpretation of
the text is dependent on this)
•Simple description/reproduction (Ideas or
reproductions of things we’re already familiar)
Very few screen stories take place in real
time. Whole lives / relationships can be dealt
within a 4 minute music video.
There are many conventions to denote time
passing, from the time/date information
typed up on each new scene of The X-Files to
the aeroplane passing over a map of a
continent in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Other
devices to manipulate time include;:
different characters' POV
real time interluds
pre-figuring of events that have not yet taken
Todorov ‘s Theory – The
structure of a narrative
Tzvetan Todorov, suggests that all narratives follow a three part structure. They begin
with equilibrium, where everything is balanced, progress as something comes along to
disrupt that equilibrium, and finally reach a resolution, when equilibrium is restored.
We can usually apply this to all linear narratives and draws Aristotle’s theory that all
narratives have some for of conflict or disruption to them.
Application of Todorov’s
Think about your music video – can you map a linear 3 part structure
to it if you have a narrative running through it? If not is that because
you have subverted this traditional structure and created a non-linear
Vladimir Propp came up with the theory that there are only a certain number of
characters, who crop up in most narratives. It is easy to spot the hero and villain in most cases,
but here are some others:
Hero : Leads the narrative, is usually looking for something (a quest) or trying to solve
something (a mystery)
Villain : Conflicts with the hero
Heroine: Is usually some sort of prize or reward for the hero.
Father :An authority figure who offers a reward to the hero for completing their quest.
Helper: Helps the hero - often acts as a sidekick
Donor: Gives the hero something - a clue, a talisman, a special power - which helps
them complete their quest
Mentor: Teaches and guides the hero
• Hero vs. Villain
• Princess (love) vs. Siren
• Villains who are really good
vs. False Heroes/Heroines
Berger (1997) showed how it was possible to adapt
Propp’s characters and functions to form binary
Levi Strauss’s Theory of Binary Oppositions
Levi Strauss concluded that all narratives were based around or
contained a binary or series of binary oppositions.
E.g. Good Vs Evil
Using your music video discuss how narrative theory
applies to it.
Remember that for some productions this may be
tricky and take a lot of critical reflection. However, it is
acceptable to show that you understand narrative
theory by discussing how your production does not
fully fit it.