Theoretical Evaluation of Production 1B (Narrative)


  • Narrative and story telling often seen as similar
  • BUT… narrative focuses not on the events themselves but the way in which they’re revealed to the audience

Para 1 Propp:

  • Discovered that there were 7 character types
  • He mainly looked into fairy tales so it may not apply to other genres
  • not necessarily in every story but most commonly
  • One character can play more than one of the roles:
    1. Hero
    2. Villain
    3. Donor/enabler (enables the hero to be able to save the princess)
    4. Helper (sidekick)
    5. Princess ( the victim that needs to be saved by the hero)
    6. False hero (a villain that claims the hero’s fame)
    7. Dispatcher (the person who sets the hero off on their way)
  • How it relates to our film:
    • Because it was a short film the narrative didn’t feature as many people as a full length film could
    • It is dependent on genre; films like star wars have these characters, but a drama (our genre) would not have characters such as the dispatcher.
    • Our character types:
      • Hero (older sister)
      • Villain (the parents were the disliked ones of the film)
      • Princess/victim (the younger sister who needs looking after)
    • Whilst planning the film we were aware that we didn’t have the possibility of including that many characters so we had to select the main few, to make the narrative still fit:
      • Not just have a helper, a false hero and a princess – wouldn’t make any sense because the characters don’t complement each other, and there would be gaps
      • In ours we essentially had the hero, protecting the princess, from the neglecting villains.

Para 2 Todorov:

  • Wrote about the 5 stages of traditional films:
    1. Equilibrium (setting the scene at the beginning, everything is okay)
    2. Disruption of the equilibrium (the problem arises)
    3. Recognition of the disruption (climax)
    4. Repairing the climax
    5. Reinstatement (the satisfactory end)
  • How it relates to my film:
    • Equilibrium: at the beginning of our film, the sister’s are happy and just discussing the eldest’s birthday plans. Everything seems normal
    • Disruption: It is established that the parents aren’t looking after them properly
    • Recognition: the sister starts to realise the the eldest has been looking after her when the parents have neglected to
    • Repair: The youngest sister thanks the eldest for being so supportive
    • Reinstatement: the pair hug and everything is restored back to normal by the sister’s having the great relationship again

Para 3 Barthes:

  • Used narratives codes to establish events and their meanings:
    • Enigma Code (hermeneutic)
      • Subtle actions done throughout the film with hidden meanings to keep the audience having to infer the deeper thoughts
      • In relation to our film: When the eldest sister picks up a not from their parents that notifies them they have gone out, she sighs: the audience is unaware if it because she is annoyed, or if it is her being sad and disappointed.
    • Action Code (proairetic)
      • Obvious actions that state what the characters are thinking or what events are about to take place
      • In relation to our film: When the older sister starts to shiver after having given her little sister her jacket that was keeping her warm


  • Despite the length of the film it still conforms to the stereotypes and conventions of what a traditional narrative follows.
  • It maintains a chronological, linear format, following the events as they happens, whilst skipping frames of time.
  • Used a series of events to show a long period of time in a short time frame so we could fit a full narrative into a short film.

Essay Draft One:

Apply the concept of narrative to one of your media production.

The narrative of a film is very similar to the story being told. However, the term ‘narrative’ usually refers to the way in which the events are revealed to the audience, rather than the events themselves.

Vladimir Propp, was a scholar who mainly studied folk stales, to break narratives down into their simplest form. He devised a list of seven character types, that appeared in most, but not necessarily every film. This list included: a hero, a villain, an enabler, a helper, a princess, a false villain and a dispatcher. These stock characters can be shown through films such as one from the Star Wars saga, or any superhero film. When considering these features for our film, we had to take in consideration that our film was only a short film, and therefore, it would have been more difficult to fit in all of these character types. Full length film have the opportunity to include all of the character types, and successfully link them into the story. In the other hand, we had to ensure that we chose specific roles that would complement each other. We concluded that this would be the three main character archetypes: the hero, the victim and the villain. Our film was about an older sister, who looked after her younger sister, as their parents were not as attentive as parents should be. In this version, the hero was played by the eldest sister, the victim was played by the younger sisters who was subject to neglect by her parents and the villains were of course the parents who were not favoured by the audience. This selection of character types enabled us to tell the story successfully, and for the narrative to make sense. An example of character types that would not be complementary, a helper, a false hero and a princess. In our film, we essentially had a hero, protecting a princess, from the neglecting villains.

The next scholar to consider when looking at narrative is Tzvetan Todorov. He wrote about the five stages of traditional films: the equilibrium, the disruption of the equilibrium, the recognition, the reparation and the reinstatement. Todorov established that these common structures are found in most films, as it is rare to see a film that is focused around anything other than a dilemma. As we planned out the structure of our narrative, we realised that our idea also conformed to this list of stages. At the beginning of our film, the two sisters are pictured together to be very happy, and the audience remains unaware of the fact that the eldest sister isn’t as happy as she should be; this is the equilibrium. Following on from this, it is shown through a note and the eldest sister’s reaction that the parents do not look after the children as well as they should be doing, this was the disruption. The recognition of the disruption, is when the youngest sister, starts to realise all of the things that her sister Becky does for her. This recognition showed the audience that Ana (the youngest sister) had become aware of her parents disassociation with herself, essentially leaving innocence.  The next step in order to follow this format, is repairing the situation. It is at this point that our film starts to show more independence from the standard film structure. It could be said that the reparation of our situation was the youngest sister saying thank you to the eldest, and then everything returns back to normal; the reinstatement. The pair hug and then the film ends, when they return to having the perfect sisterly relationship.

A final scholar that was investigated was Roland Barthes, who researched into and came up with some narrative codes to decipher actions and their meanings. He categorised the codes into the two following names: hermeneutic and proairetic. The hermeneutic code is also known as the enigma code, as it is the one that has subtle meanings, so that the audience has to infer for themselves the meaning. The meaning often becomes obvious to the audience, as reading a character’s expression becomes less difficult after getting to know the character. The proairetic code is alternatively called the action code, which is the obvious actions a character carries out that states what they are thinking or what events are about to take place. We are able to make connections between Barthes’ studies, and our own production. To illustrate, the hermeneutic codes within our film consisted of actions such as a scene where Becky walks down stairs to find that her parents have left her and her sibling on her birthday. After she finds a note saying so, she sighs and puts the note back down. It is uncertain from the sigh only, which emotion she is feeling. The audience has to infer whether she is feeling disappointed or sad, or whether she is angry towards her parents. An example of a proairetic code in our film, is when Becky takes her jumper off to give it to Ana, and Becky is pictured shivering. This makes it blatantly obvious amongst the audience that she is in a state of discomfort, in order for her sister to be warm.

Despite the short length of the film that we produced, it still conforms to the conventions and stereotypes of how a full length film should play out. The narrative of the film maintains a chronological, linear form, however, we cut out periods of time between the series of events that were shown. The application of narrative when producing the film, meant that we constantly had to consider the order of events, and the tone of the dialogue that we used.


One thought on “Theoretical Evaluation of Production 1B (Narrative)

  1. Leah

    The following is the exam board’s description of a level 4 answer, from the January 2013 mark scheme (

    Level 4 (21-25 marks).

    Candidates demonstrate a clear understanding of narrative and relevant media theory and can relate concepts articulately to the production outcome, describing specific elements in relation to theoretical ideas about how media texts are constructed as narratives. Candidates offer a range of specific, relevant, interesting and clear examples of how their product can be understood in relation to relevant theories of narrative. The use of conceptual language is excellent.

    Complex issues have been expressed clearly and fluently using a style of writing appropriate to the complex subject matter. Sentences and paragraphs, consistently relevant, have been well structured, using appropriate technical terminology. There may be few, if any, errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar

    I would mark your current answer as being Level 4, possibly 20/25.

    – It’s a good job some bloke “researched into and came up with some narrative codes”…
    – This is a good effort, though. You strike a good balance between explaining the theories and applying them to your production.
    – What about poor old Levi Strauss?


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