Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Narrative (3)
G235: Critical Perspectives in
Theoretical Evaluation of
Production - Question 1(b)
• To reinforce the key narrative
• To have a basic understanding of how to
evaluate your coursework against key
• Tim O’Sullivan (1998) argues that all
media texts tell us some kind of story.
•Media texts offer a way of telling stories
about ourselves – not usually our own
personal stories, but the story of us as a
culture or set of cultures.
• Narrative theory sets out to show that what
we experience when we ‘read’ a story is to
understand a particular set of constructions,
or conventions, and that it is important to
be aware of how these constructions are put
3 important words…
Narrative: The structure of a story.
Diegesis: The fictional space and time implied
by the narrative – the world in which the story
Verisimilitude: Literally – the quality of
appearing to be real or true. For a story to
engage us it must appear to be real to us as
we watch it
The Structure Of The Classic Narrative
According to Pam Cook (1985), the
standard Hollywood narrative structure
1.Linearity of cause and effect with enigma
2.A high degree of narrative closure.
3.A fictional world that contains
verisimilitude especially governed by
spatial and temporal coherence.
Tzvetan Todorov (1977)
Bulgarian structural linguist.
Has been very influential in the field of
1.Stage 1: A point of stable equilibrium, where
everything is satisfied, calm and normal.
2.Stage 2: This stability is disrupted by some kind of
force, which creates a state of disequilibrium.
3.Stage 3: Recognition that a disruption has taken
4.Stage 4: It is only possible to re-create equilibrium
through action directed against the disruption.
5.Stage 5: Restoration of a new state of equilibrium.
The consequences of the reaction is to change the
world of the narrative and/or the characters so that
the final state of equilibrium in not the same as the
• Equilibrium: Nemo living with his dad, first day of
• Disruption: Nemo goes on school trip, where he is
caught by a diver
• Recognition: Marvin, his dad, sees Nemo being
taken and decides to take action by trying to
• Repair: Marvin and Dory go on a sea-wide search
for Nemo, getting in to all sorts of situations.
• New equilibrium: Nemo and his dad are reunited,
and it feels so good. And they live happily ever
Roland Barthes (1977)
Establishment of plot or theme. This is then
followed by the development of the problem,
an enigma, an increase in tension.
Finally comes the resolution of the plot.
Such narratives can be unambiguous and
According to Kate Domaille (2001) every story
ever told can be fitted into one of eight
narrative types. Each of these narrative types
has a source, an original story upon which the
others are based. These stories are as follows:
1.Achilles: The fatal flaw that leads to the
destruction of the previously flawless, or almost
flawless, person, e.g. Superman, Fatal Attraction.
2.Candide: The indomitable hero who cannot be
put down, e.g. Indiana Jones, James Bond, Rocky
3.Cinderella: The dream comes true, e.g. Pretty
4.Circe: The Chase, the spider and the fly, the
innocent and the victim e.g. The Terminator.
5.Faust: Selling your soul to the devil may bring
riches but eventually your soul belongs to him,
e.g. Devil’s Advocate, Wall Street.
6.Orpheus: The loss of something personal, the
gift that is taken away, the tragedy of loss or the
journey which follows the loss, e.g. The Sixth
Sense, Born On the Fourth Of July.
7.Romeo And Juliet: The love story, e.g. Titanic.
8.Tristan and Iseult: The love triangle. Man loves
woman…unfortunately one or both of them are
already spoken for, or a third party intervenes, e.g.
The Russian theorist Vladimir Propp (1928)
studied the narrative structure of Russian
Propp concluded that regardless of the
individual differences in terms of plot,
characters and settings, such narratives
would share common structural features.
He also concluded that all the characters could be
resolved into only seven character types in the 100 tales
1. The villain — struggles against the hero.
2. The donor — prepares the hero or gives the hero some
3. The (magical) helper — helps the hero in the quest.
4. The princess and her father — gives the task to the
hero,identifies the false hero, marries the hero, often sought
for during the narrative. Propp noted that functionally, the
princess and the father can not be clearly distinguished.
5. The dispatcher — character who makes the lack known and
sends the hero off.
6. The hero or victim/seeker hero — reacts to the donor, weds
7. [False hero] — takes credit for the hero’s actions or tries to
marry the princess.
1. The Hero
Leads the narrative, is usually looking for
something - a quest, or trying to solve something-
a mystery. Does not have to be male.
2. The Villain
• Has a conflict with the hero and tries
to stop them from succeeding.
3. The Donor
• Gives the hero something - a clue, a
talisman, a special power - which helps
them complete their quest.
4. The Princess
• Is usually a prize or reward for the hero. If
the hero is female, there can be a price
but this is unusual.
5. T HE HELPER
• Helps the hero, often acts as a
6. The Princess’ Father
• An authority figure who offers a reward to
the hero for completing their quest. That
reward might be a prince, a princess or in
more modern narratives, a new car.
7. The False Hero
• The false hero takes credit for the hero’s
actions or tries to marry the princess.
These structures are not unique to film but also
advertising and news stories.
In fact the structures presented are an integral
part of the majority of both western and
eastern cultures - details how narrative works
in society to inform the audience of events,
people, places through mediated ideologies
Narratives have a common
Claude Lèvi-Strauss (1958) his ideas about
narrative amount to the fact that he believed
all stories operated to certain clear Binary
Opposites e.g. good vs. evil, black vs. white,
rich vs. poor etc.
The importance of these ideas is that essentially a
complicated world is reduced to a simple either/or
structure. Things are either right or wrong, good or
bad. There is no in between.
This structure has ideological implications, if, for
example, you want to show that the hero was not
wholly correct in what they did, and the villains
weren’t always bad. (Postmodernism?)
You must use these terms!
• multi-strand narrative: telling a story from more
than one person’s point of view. or two stories of
two different people that intertwine
• restricted narrative: narrative from only one
character in the story. Audience has limited
access to narrative events as only sees them as
this character does. The opposite of this is a non-
• linear narrative: where the story is told
chronologically with a beginning, middle and end.
The opposite of this is a non-linear narrative.
• Kuleshov edited together a short film in which a shot of the expressionless
face of Tsarist matinee idol Ivan Mosjoukine was alternated with various
other shots (a plate of soup, a girl in a coffin, a woman on a divan). The film
was shown to an audience who believed that the expression on
Mosjoukine's face was different each time he appeared, depending on
whether he was "looking at" the plate of soup, the girl in the coffin, or the
woman on the divan, showing an expression of hunger, grief or desire,
respectively. Actually the footage of Mosjoukine was the same shot
repeated over and over again. The audience "raved about the acting... the
heavy pensiveness of his mood over the forgotten soup, were touched and
moved by the deep sorrow with which he looked on the dead child, and
noted the lust with which he observed the woman. But we knew that in all
three cases the face was exactly the same."
• Kuleshov used the experiment to indicate the usefulness and effectiveness
of film editing. The implication is that viewers brought their own emotional
reactions to this sequence of images, and then moreover attributed those
reactions to the actor, investing his impassive face with their own feelings.
Kuleshov believed this, along with montage, had to be the basis of cinema
as an independent art form.
• Where did you use Juxtaposition in your
• Michael Shore (1984) used such phrases as
"recycled styles", "simulated experience" and
"information overload" “cliched imagery”
• Verisimilitude is created within the video
through the mimed actions and lip-syncing of
the performers, making it appear to the
audience that they are watching a real
“Media texts rely on cultural experiences in
order for audiences to easily make sense of
narratives”. Explain how you used
conventional and / or experimental narrative
approaches in one of your production pieces.
Answer this question………………