media studies - action adventure films

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todorov theory

tzvetan todorov

he was a bulgarian structuralist linguist publishing work on narratives from the 1960s onwards.

todorovs theory was that most films start with an equilibrium (norma life) and then through the middle of the the film theres a disruption (aliens invade, things get better, aliens invade, things get better etc) and then at the end of the film theres a new equilibrium (not the same as the fist equilibrium but a new normal).

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propp theory

vladimir propp

was a Russian critic who examined 100s of examples of folk tales to see if they shared any structures. his book 'morphology of the folk tale' was published in 1928, in his book he identified 8 different character types and 31 narratives you would find in the average book or film today.

the 8 character types are:

  • the villain(s)
  • the hero
  • the donor - who provides gadgets etc
  • the helper- helps the hero
  • the princess - male or female role, needs rescuing 
  • her farther - rewards the hero
  • the dispatcher - sends the hero on the mission or case 
  • the false hero 
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levi strauss theory

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'NICS' stands for narrative, iconography, character and setting.


narrative referes to the different types of story structure that films of different genres employ, in addition to the narrative or story telling devices and narrative moments which they are associated with (e.g car chases, shoot outs, romantic kissing etc). narratives are all based on some kind of conflict. different genres therefore focus in different types of conflict.


many genres, particulary western and ganster genres have a distint location and time period associated with them. to use a temporal and spatial setting can therefore make a film immidiatly recogniseble within a particular enre aor subgenre.

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