Narrative theoryBy: Natalie Nikolaeva
Todorov suggested that there are five stages of narrative of which three are the major parts) Equilibrium (This is the part where there is only normality and calmness, this is always going to be the beginning of the film. It is reflected in the music which is usually an artist song to create a sense of normality.) Disequilibrium (This is the part where there is a problem occurring, it could be caused by the antagonist of the film, or just by natural causes.) Resolution (This is the part in which there is a solution found and it is usually the job of the protagonist to use this solution to solve the disequilibrium.) Restored Order (This is the stage in which the protagonist would apply the solution and try to get things back to normal, which is stage one.)New Equilibrium (This is the stage in which the protagonist has already solved the problem and is the whole film is led back to stage one)
Strauss believed that our world is described in binary opposites. He looks at themes within stories and real life and he notes the consistent differences, contradictions and conflict or opposites. Some of our every day opposites are : Night / DayGood/BadDark/LightMale/FemaleGood/ Evil
Levi - Strauss
There is a key problem with his theory, which is the fact that oppositions always lead to a status of hierarchy, one of the sides has to win the conflict. The audience will of course expect to agree and favour the winning side, simply because of the way theyre represented to them.Levi Strauss Problem
Roland BarthesSimilar to Todorov, Barthes believes that the audience should experience the ANTICIPATION and EXPECTATION of a resolution to disruption or conflict. His theory encourages audience to look and seek for clues and answers in order to make them anticipate outcomes.
The Five CodesRoland Barthes narrowed down the action which happens in a text down to these five codes, which are involved in the narrative: The Action Code The Enigma / Proairetic CodeThe Symbolic CodeThe Cultural CodeThe Semantic Code
The Enigma / ProaireticUsually the narratives would be set like puzzles, in order for the audience to solve it. Its pretty much portraying the mystery and its aims is to raise questions as way to engage with the audience. It can be applied to any text, story, poster or film. Sometimes the enigmas could be left unresolved, this would often be expected in less mainstream films.
The ActionThis code focuses on the behaviour and actions which lead for the audience to expect certain consequences, which are of course based on the stories/films and their conventions. For example. A gunslinger draws his gun on an adversary and the audience is left to wonder what the resolution of this action will be, they will have to decide if the adversary be shot or not.
The Semantic This code is used to make connotations, which in this case is the meaning of characters, objects or locations.The audience is able to learn about these denotations and connotations from their experience of watching the films. For example, in the film Pretty Woman, the colour red is used to connote sexuality and love, whereas in the film Carrie, the red blood is used to connote murder and violence. It clearly depends on the genre, about the way the connotation gets across to the audience.
The SymbolicThe symbolic features often signify the oppositions and antitheses, for example light/dark.It also exercises the opposites to show the contrast and also create a greater meaning, creating tension, drama and also further character development.
The Cultural As an audience, we commonly share to bring understanding of the meaning behind a text. Often its referenced to the things in popular culture and historical events. Cultural references are used in order to enhance our reading and understanding of a text. Sometimes it could be that films are set and based around a specific historical event or era, as an audience if you have understanding of these time periods or events, it will again enhance your understanding even further.
Vladimir ProppPropp studied folklore, fairy tales and legends in many countries and noticed variety of similarities in them, the main similarities are the similar character types and the same problems which are caused. Propp formed the theory about the seven distinctive character types, called Spheres Of Action and its quite simplistic, because its based on fairy tales and folklore. The reason why it might be too simplistic Is because, stereotypically fairy tales and folklore are created to appeal to children.
The Seven Distinctive Character TypesHero Villain DispatcherDonor Helper Heroine False Hero
HeroThe hero will always be put on quest/searchTraditionally male, however not always, the protagonist role is to restore the disequilibrium, usually by defeating the villain (antagonist) and then at the end they get together with the heroine.
DispatcherStarts the hero on its ways, usually to restore the disequilibrium. Often the father of the heroine.
VillainOpposes the hero. The cause of disruption.Often threat to safety of the heroine
DonorHelps the hero by giving him magic tools/gifts to help the hero on journey. These tools/gifts may be an advice, a skill or an object such as a weapon.
HelperAssists the hero in restoring normality (equilibrium)Also known as a sidekick (Could be met on the way and be on the whole part of the journey)
False HeroTempts the hero away from quest.Initially on side of hero, and later on turns against or deceives him/her.
HeroineOften referred as princess in the traditional narratives. More passive and vulnerable character, threatened by the villain and needing rescuing from the hero.