Previously in another blog post I looked at a narrative theorist called Levi Strauss, I have decided to upload my notes taken from my lesson about two other narrative theorists and explain why they are important to media studies.
But first what is the difference between story, plot and narrative?
My notes above demonstrate how media institutions select and organise material for their audience, in a process known as mediation. In which narrative is central to this process because the organisation of narrative is involved in visual media; this is where theorists Todorov and Propp link well to this topic.
For instance I found Vladimir Propp’s theory of there being 31 narrative film plots to each film with his definitions of the 8 character types. As shown in my notes below, I linked the film Harry Potter and The Chamber Of Secrets to Propp’s defined character roles. However, I couldn’t think of a particular character in the film that would be classified as “her father” because the film’s story doesn’t evolve around the princess’ father at any point in the film.
I did notice that several Disney films such as Beauty and The Beast, Cinderella, Enchanted etc, all conform to this theory of character roles, suggesting that older films are more likely to suit Propp’s theory, whreas modern films including the Harry Potter film series do not. So I can assume that Propp’s theory is good to the extent of categorising characters in certain films but not all can be related to his idea.
Then after doing some research on theorist Tzvetan Todorov, I decided to do another film link, which I found the film “San Andreas” suited best to his theory of conventional narratives for may mainstream films being constructed similarly in five ways; as evident below.
Which I acknowledged that a trailer for a film doesn’t follow a linear narrative as Todorov had suggested it should do, due to most trailers containing a montage of entertaining events in the film. But arguably most films that I can think of follow/conform to Todorov’s theory of there being five stages to a film, despite their trailers that subvert his theory, for the reason that media institutions chose to select and mediate the best part to show of the film, rather than following a linear narrative.
For example: the trailer for the film “San Andreas”, reveals the first three stages of Equilibrium, Disruption, and Recognition to the audience but not the last two stages. I think this leaves the audience wanting to know more, whether the film will conform to the rest of Todorov’s theory or if it will be different where the characters will never reach the New Equilibrium stage.