Narrative Theories

It is important that in your understanding of conventions in film you relate it to whether you conform to subverted or challenged the following theories. Here is a quick recap of the main ideas of the four theorists we have studied:

Roland Barthes – Enigma Codes
Barthes' Enigma Code is a theory that suggests a text (whether that be television, film, a poster etc) portrays a mystery to draw an audience in, pose questions and, as such, become intrigued in the piece. For instance, a murder mystery will often not reveal the identity of the murderer until the end of the story, which poses the question "Who is the murderer?" Key Term: Enigma Code - questions that your film makes the audience think of to help draw them into the narrative – such as why is that ma nangry?, where are they? Who is that disguised character?

Tsvetan Todorov-Equilibrium
• All stories start in a state of equilibrium, which is then disrupted, setting in a motion a chain of events. The resolution of the story is the creation of a new/different equilibrium.

Eg. Titanic • Rose is engaged • Rose then leaves her finance for Jack; Jack the dies • Rose continues her life as an independent woman Key terms: Equilibrium – a state of normality that is then disrupted andf then restored

Levi-Strauss- Binary Oppositions
• Meanings, including narrative, depend on binary oppositions – he explores these in terms of underlying paradigmatic themes rather than events. * Artistic/Materialistic * Irish/English

Eg: Titanic • Rich /Poor • Brave/Cowardly Key Terms:

Binary Opposites – (2 total opposites that are established e.g rich and poor, night and day good and evil)

Vladimir Propp
Propp was essentially interested in the narrative of folk tales. He identified a theory about Folk tales were similar in many areas. They were about the same basic struggles and they appeared to have stock characters. He identified a theory about characters and actions as narrative functions. Characters, according to Propp, have a narrative function; they provide a structure for the text. Characters that perform a function The Hero – a character that seeks something The Villain – who opposes or actively blocks the hero’s quest The Donor – who provides an object with magical properties The Dispatcher – who sends the hero on his/her quest via a message The False Hero – who disrupts the hero’s success by making false claims The Helper – who aids the hero The Princess – acts as the reward for the hero and the object of the villain’s plots Her Father – who acts to reward the hero for his effort