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Film Narrative Structure
Transcript of Film Narrative Structure
Film Narrative Structure
The classical Hollywood system of story-telling has remained the dominant narrative method for more than 80 years. It has established its own accepted and usual ways of doing things (‘norms’) that can be summarised in the following key narrative features:
•Significance given to the climax and resolution of the overall narrative structure. There needs to be a clear-cut ending/closure
In order to understand a scene...
... we need to understand the whole film first
Expository opening/set up
an event takes place that incites or triggers plot development (a killing, boy meets girl, a disaster, etc.)
•A strong initial exposition (background) that provides the basis for regular audience involvement through the forming of ‘hunches’ associated with narrative cues (hints and directions with genres etc)
•Narrative, spatial and temporal coherence (coherence of story, space and time)
•Goal-oriented, character-centred stories
•Narrative repetition, retardation (holding off information) and redundancy (saying the same thing in different ways/spelling things out)
•A morally polarised, emotionally excessive form
•Multiple motivations (reasons and justifications) for the devices of the story (eg compositional, generic, realistic) – nothing is wasted, there’s always a reason for something being shown
Central characters are established, their goals may be introduced.
Often the goals are dual: one is personal, usually romantic; the other is more public(e.g. career, money).
At the same time, film plots need to keep the audience’s mind fixed on the overall arc of the story, on the characters’ main goal despite the intricacies of the plot.
The goal may be defined, re-defined, even temporarily thwarted. Stakes may be raised. Plot turning points are clearly marked.
A series of interrelated events (problem1, problem 2, etc.) leading like a series of steps up to a major confrontation
this resolves the problems/conflicts raised during the film and the protagonist’s goal is usually decisively achieved.
It often follows the ‘darkest moment’ for the hero when obstacles seem insurmountable
the restoration of a stable world, usually in a happy ending
Strong sense of closure
What we'll be looking at is how the following conventions help to develop and/or present the narrative:
Narrative Perspective (Point of View)
TASK: Write the narrative structure for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.