Presentation on theme: "The contemporary Western perceiver does typically expect expository material at the outset, a state of affairs disturbed by a complication, and some character."— Presentation transcript:
The contemporary Western perceiver does typically expect expository material at the outset, a state of affairs disturbed by a complication, and some character ready to function as a goal oriented protagonist. “To read a narrative continuum is in fact to arrange it-at the quick pace set by the reading material-in a variety of structures, to strive for concepts or labels which more or less sum up the profuse (abundant) sequence of observations” –Roland Barthes Top-down grasping of an event can run ahead of the data.
A text that defies story conventions If a film (or text) does not correspond to the canonic story, the spectator must adjust his or her expectations and posit, however tentatively, new explanations for what is presented
By what procedures does a spectator justify a given textual element? Realistic motivation: a notion of plausibility derived from a conception of the way things work in the world. Trans-textual grounds: genre In a Western a viewer will expect gun fights, barroom brawls, and thundering hooves or in a crime story we may expect that a crime will be solved by the end of the story and the wrongdoer will be revealed.
Is The Wire Dickensian? Both The Wire and Dickens have emerged from the mass of works created in the mode of serial melodrama as the supreme popular art of their era. Melodrama: a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions.
Dickens was one of many writers in a newly industrialized publishing industry that had only recently learned the secret of serial sales: hook an audience on a steady stream of cheap parts and they will faithfully buy each new installment when they might not have bought a more expensive whole novel.
Both produced a wide range of memorable characters belonging to every social class with special attention to the unjust fates of the lower classes at the mercy of cruel economic systems (early capitalism in Dickens, late capitalism in The Wire).
Dickensian to Simon means contrived happy endings, pure villains and victims and a failure to address the deepest social problems that keep the underclass down.
Ultimately, The Wire is about individuals grappling with inherently corrupt institutions who, at best, may claim small victories.
None of these institutions can deeply recognize what is just and good in its own operation, despite the many individuals who try. This is the basis of the series' famous anger, and realism. But these features are not anathema to melodrama. Melodrama does not demand a happy ending, though Dickens's readers did. It merely demands an awareness of what would be just.
It only means that, like all melodrama, new forms of realism expose new problems for more realistic melodrama to be outraged about. The Wire's added dimension of the institutional level of melodrama, meshed with the stories of truly diverse social strata, is the most bravura achievement of The Wire.
It is the day-to-day workings of these institutions, at the nitty-gritty level of budgets, drug profits, political horse-trading, editorial practices -- not private loves, kindly uncles, or personal villains -- that determine fates. Popular melodrama is a heart-rending mode we may think we are too good for but which pulls us back again and again to heavily plotted stories of the battle between good and evil.
It is better, modern melodrama -- one that even grants an occasional happy ending to a particular individual without betraying its principles of showing the way the "game is rigged" against the poor and black. The Wire thus is, and isn't, Dickensian. More properly, it is serial television melodrama in which good and evil are raised beyond the personal to the institutional level. If Dickens represented the great serial melodrama of his time, The Wire represents the great serial melodrama of our own.
Fabula Embodies the action as a chronological, cause and effect chain of events
Syuzyet Consists of a particular pattern of events (actions, scenes, turning points, plot twists)
Style The films systematic use of story devices: canonical, genre, linear, non-linear
Fabula Crime: the investigation of a crime involves establishing certain connections among events The fabula is a pattern that perceivers of narratives create through assumptions and inferences The viewer builds the fabula on the basis of prototype schemata i.e. identifiable types of persons, actions, locales Procedural Schemata: a search for appropriate motivations and relations of causality, time and space A film’s fabula is not materially present on the screen or soundtrack
Syuzhet: Consists of a particular pattern of events (actions, scenes, turning points, plot twists) Manipulation of causal intervention Dramaturgy of film: the organized set of cues prompting us to infer and assemble story information The Syuzhet and style interact in the course of cueing and channeling the spectator’s construction of the fabula Denotation and connotation “become fellow travelers in the story”
Denotation: the literal or primary meaning of a word, in contrast to the feelings or ideas that the word suggests. Connotation: he associated or secondary meaning of a word or expression in addition to its explicit or primary meaning: A possible connotation of “home” is “a place of warmth, comfort, and affection.”. Logical, temporal and spatial nature of syuzhet Gaps are created by choosing to present certain pieces of fabula information and to hold back others
A detective story calls attention to its gaps, makes us fret over the lack of certain data Omitted fabula information will become important later Retardation (Delay of story information) cues spectator’s comprehension Revelation of some (not all) information can arouse anticipation, curiosity, suspense, and surprise In a crime story crucial murder evidence emerges piecemeal The case can’t be solved too quickly Resolution is suspended until conclusion
Detective Story Detective Story: Serial Crime Cause of Crime Commission of Crime Concealment of Crime Discovery of Crime Investigation Beginning of investigation Phases of investigation Elucidation of crime Identification of criminal Consequences of identification