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Narrative Structure in Film

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1 Narrative Structure in Film
How Films Tell Stories

2 "A film is hundreds of moments photographed and joined together to create an illusion of something which did not take place.“ –Michael Winner

3 Two essential terms Diegetic
The world of the story, and everything that is included in it. This includes the characters, their lives, the clothes they wear, the music they play, the sounds of things dropping, the sunshine aove them. Diegesis is defined as “the (fictional) world in which the situations and events narrated occur”

4 Two essential terms Non-diegetic
All material added to the story, usually done in post-production Includes special effects, blue screen backgrounds, soundtrack music, subtitles, voiceover/narration This is the “magic of moviemaking”

5 Plot vs. Story Plot – the series of events that provide conflict, the action, the spine of a film. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end. You can restate the plot by asking yourself: What happened? Everything that is on the screen in front of us, the whole package of the movie Includes the story (characters, setting, action, dialog) AND all nondiegetic material. Does NOT include inferred events which exist in the diegesis, but aren’t actually shown to us. Plot is the WAY the story is told.

6 Plot vs. Story Story - the emotional/philosophical content/main concept of a film. The story is inferred via the main actions/conflicts demonstrated in the plot. You can discover the story by asking: What was the filmmaker trying to tell me? The narrative, all of the events we see. Tells the world of the characters and includes all events, explicitly presented and inferred. For example, a traumatic event which happened during the childhood of a character (even if not shown) is part of the story.

7 Why should you care? Because the way the story is told has a very strong effect of us. Ex. Non-chronological = confused Ex. Dark, high-pitched music = tense, suspenseful We are being manipulated by the filmmaker. Often, we are made to feel the same way as the main character, which gives us a very intense, authentic, and visceral experience

8 Narrative Tools in Film
Narrative Structure (linear v. non-linear) Music Camera Movement and camera angle Lighting Color Editing Costume & Set Design Special Effects Genre Conventions

9 Classical Narrative (Hollywood)
Temporal: organized chronologically. There’s a beginning, middle, and end, in that order (mostly)! Follows classical pattern: exposition, development, complication, climax, resolution. Spatial. Location is presented right away—we often see a detailed portrait of WHERE we are first. Emphasizes cause and effect. Sets up a main protagonist(s) who is usually the causal agent (He wants to achieve something, which drives the narrative). Relies on genre conventions Regulates narrative Relies on REALISM. There is usually a happy ending (when the main character gets what s/he wants).

10 Non-Narrative Film Time is NOT necessarily linear (a straight line of time events) and can seem disorienting. Contains beginning, middle and end, but not necessarily in that order. Location may not be clear/emphasized Meaning may be derived more from association (relating a series of images/events) than cause/effect Atypical protagonist – may be passive Focuses more on STORY than PLOT May defy rules of genre Tends to be more experimental, not so concerned with REALISM.

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