Four narrative theories

A quick description of the narrative theories from Levi Strauss, Propp, Todorov and Kuleshov with examples

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Kuleshov
He said that when we watch a film or
programme, we try to create meaning
and connect events to see a line of
cause and effect. Even if there are no
connections, we still try to make them
to make sense of what we are
watching.
Example: we try to do this in regular
programmes such as Eastenders to
anticipate what's coming next.

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Todorov
He proposed a basic structure for all
narratives: begins with equilibrium,
then an agent of disruption causes
disequilibrium followed by a return to
equilibrium as the agent of disruption
is eliminated.
Example: romantic comedies; the two
protagonists start in their normal
everyday lives, meet and seem happy,
then something enters to disrupt their
relationship and by the end of the film,
they overcome it.…read more

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Propp
He said that there were always 8
different types of characters: the hero,
the villain, the donor, the dispatcher,
the false hero, the helper, the princess
and her father. One person in a film or
programme can be more than one
character.
Example: Harry Potter ­ hero; Harry
Potter, villain; Voldemort, princess;
Ginny Weasley, father, dispatcher and
donor; Dumbledore, helper; Ron
Weasley and Hermione Granger, and
false hero; Draco Malfoy.…read more

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Levi Strauss
He stated that there had to be a binary
opposition in a film or programme.
This is usually presented through the
two sides of good and evil.
Example: Star Wars ­ the binary
opposition of the Light and Dark side.…read more

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