The Narrative a film follows is made up of many things; the plot line, the voice (who’s telling you the story), the POV (point of view, which character you’re ‘following’), The editing and camera use, and many other things. Many media share narrative similarities, these media are all put under one label; a genre, which helps the audience decide which narratives they like and which narratives they don’t. Though plot line is the most well known of all of the narrative devices, it isn’t the most important factor in driving a narrative. Other narrative aspects can change while the plotline stays the same and give the piece many different possibilities of genre. This is why narrative and genre go hand in hand, making each and every decision the director makes regarding narrative massively important in the finished product of the film. For example: imagine if director Christopher Nolan, who directed the film “Inception” decided to have the film running in chronological order. The film would have been completely different, as even a small, seemingly obvious decision could change the film by incredible measures.
A theory of narrative is the Binary opposite theory by Strauss. The theory states that every movie has a binary opposite. Binary meaning “to hold together”, these binary opposites exist so that they can keep the narrative together, imagine how boring a film without any differing characters. these opposites drive the narrative forward.
Some popular examples of binary opposites include.
- Man VS Woman
- Young Vs Old
- Evil Vs Good
- Hero Vs Villain
- Human VS Robot
It is important to remember that Vs does not necessary mean that one is in conflict with the other, more that they are compared and contrasted to each other throughout. Some examples include:
Man Vs Woman: The movie Grease has man vs woman as a binary opposite as Sandy and Danny fall in love, roping in both of their groups of friends in a comical and heartwarming fashion. the Men, the T-Birds (Danny’s group of friends) vs The Pink Ladies (Sandy’s group of friends) aren’t as much in conflict as they are in contrast to pick out the main differences between the pair.
Young Vs Old: The Powerpuff Girls. An animated series aimed towards young children. Three little girls with superhuman powers take on the evil Mojo Jojo. The power opposite of the young girls vs the old guy is comical and it serves as the main plot point of the series
Evil Vs Good. Most films have this binary opposite or some variation of it. Good vs Evil could mean anything from good people vs evil people, a good person vs an evil situation or some variation of that. An example would be Superman (1978) where the ‘good’ is Superman and the ‘evil’ is Lex Luthor.
Human Vs Robot: Big Hero 6.A film aimed at young children. A healing robot learns how to become more human through his owners example. This convention is much more new as at emerged around the time of the technological revolution to depict the constantly growing technological advances.
Propp’s theory was more about character definition rather that plot devices, he had seven main character ideas.
this theory was created in the times when more fairytale type of stories were more prominent but it can be applied to modern day media. Such as in the Harry Potter book/film series.
The Hero- The main protagonist who’s plan is to do something useful, helpful or good for people.
Harry, The Boy Who Lived is the only known person who can defeat voldemort due to how he survived one of his attacks as a baby, upon learning this he takes on the role to help protect the wizard and muggle world alike.
The villain— struggles against the hero
Voldemorts plan is to live forever and become strong and powerful, he plans to do this by killing a lot of people in order to make horcrux’s and murdering his enemies.
The donor— prepares the hero or gives the hero some helpful object
Hedwig, Harry’s owl, gives Harry his acceptance letter into Hogwarts, thus making Harry aware of his powers and allowing him to learn about magic.
The (magical) helper— helps the hero in the quest, often acts as a side-kick to the hero
Ron and Hermione help Harry throughout all his quests to help keep him alive and to make sure he succeeds in his battle against Voldemort
The princess- This would be the woman of affection to be won but in todays less sexist environment its anything the hero wants and is willing to go on a quest for
Harry has many things he desires throughout the books, he wishes to learn magic, to stay close to his friends, but most of all he wants to keep Hogwarts, his safe place and home to many of his friends, safe from evil.
Her father- Again this was originally mean that the father gave the hero permission to marry the princess, however now its any one who wants the hero to get the prize.
Professor Dumbledore, head teacher of Hogwarts also wants to keep Hogwarts safe, knowing Harry is the schools only hope he often encourages Harry to do dangerous things for the good of the school.
The dispatcher— character who sends the hero on his quest
Hagrid has a little more concern for the safety of Harry than Dumbledore, but he still knows that Harry must be able to help everyone, so he gives Harry words of advice to help him on his way.
False hero— takes credit for the hero’s actions or tries to marry the princess.
Draco constantly attempts to sabotage the plans of the good guys, nobody really knows why except that he is a horrible person.