Narrative theories and thriller conventions as
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Narrative theories and thriller conventions as
Media Studies AS
the way in which a story is told in
both fictional and non-fictional
Russian critic and literary theorist.
Analysed over 100 Russian fairytales in the 1920s.
He proposed that it was possible to classify the
characters and their actions into clearly defined roles
Films such as Star Wars fit Propp’s model precisely,
but a a significant number of more recent films such
as Pulp Fiction do not.
The model is useful, however as it highlights the
similarities between seemingly quite different stories.
Propp’s Character Roles
The hero (seeks something)
The villain (opposes the hero)
The donor (helps the hero by providing a magic
The dispatcher (sends the hero on his way)
The false hero (falsely assuming the role of hero)
The helper (gives support to the hero)
The princess (the reward for the hero, but also needs
protection from the villain)
Bulgarian literary theorist
Suggests most narratives start with a state of
equilibrium in which life is ‘normal’ and
This state of normality is disrupted by an
outside force, which has to be fought against
in order to return to a state of equilibrium.
This model can easily be applied to a wide
range of films.
Suggested that narrative works with
different codes which activate the
reader to make sense of it.
Denote – what the audience sees encoded by the
Connote – what the audience decode it to mean
Action – a narrative device by which a resolution is
produced through action, e.g. a shoot-out.
Enigma – a narrative device that teases the audience
by presenting a puzzle or riddle to be solved. Works
to delay the story’s ending pleasurably.
Studied myths of tribal cultures.
Examined how stories unconsciously reflect
the values, beliefs and myths of a culture.
These are usually expressed in the form of
binary oppositions .
His research has been adapted by media
theorists to reveal underlying themes and
symbolic oppositions in media texts.
A conflict between two things – often
For example 1970’s Western films:
Apply the key narrative theorists to the
a thriller opening sequence
Thriller Film is a genre that revolves around anticipation and
suspense. The aim for Thrillers is to keep the audience alert and
on the edge of their seats. The protagonist in these films is set
against a problem – an escape, a mission, or a mystery. No matter
what sub-genre a Thriller film falls into, it will emphasize the danger
that the protagonist faces. The tension with the main problem is
built on throughout the film and leads to a highly stressful climax.
As media students you need to know HOW to achieve
Serial killers, Psychopath
Non-diegetic – music – progressive, movement)
mysterious, low notes, high string
instruments, violins – back chilling
Sound effects – rain, screams,
fast pace, POV
heartbeats, explosions, hyperbolic
sounds – punches, kicks – foley
No non-diegetic sound to aid
Low key lighting
Cities, populated places, urban
settings - chaos
Flash cuts, wash ins,
Flash backs, flash
True story, isolation, loss, death,
murder, stalkers, assassins,
espionage, hostage, ransom,
HMK this week
Complete the 2 class analyses
Using media language and key theories