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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 heros 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 heros 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 villains plots Her Father who acts to reward the hero for his effort