Narrative Film Story | Film Studies Dissertations

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This essay will look at the importance of narrative in two CG animated films which are Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (Hironobu Sakaguchi, 2001) and The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). The essay focuses specifically on the narrative and the spectacle of the films and how through the cinematic medium, they help each other to deliver a visual story across to the audience. The essay will discuss if a solid storyline is needed for a successful feature length animated film or are the animated films just a platform for spectacular imagery.

This essay will discuss topics such as the different narrative theories and how the majority of contemporary films have a similar narrative structure, how films have become more sophisticated in terms of raw video footage being just one element necessary to complete a single shot in a film. It will also discuss modern film techniques and how it can help the story being told.

The essay will first focus on the various theories of narrative and a brief history of the spectacle of cinema before moving on to the analysis of my chosen case studies.

People have been communicating since the day they have been born. From gossiping, bed time stories to little white lies people have been subconsciously or consciously telling stories in some form of a narrative structure. By this I do not mean that all human discourse takes the form of a true story itself but the elements of the basic narrative structure such as having, a beginning, middle and an end are present. Vast majority of mainstream films have the classic three stage act structure of the 19th century stage melodrama, set-up, conflict and resolution as the basic linear structure.“…time is experienced as linear (past-present-future).”

From starting to read this essay to the end time has passed. Narratives that have manifested itself into other forms of medium more or less have a tendency to follow this fact. Dreams, flashbacks, characters or a narrator reciting earlier events or future events which are due to happen are eccentric elements of breaking up the linear time format. Hence the arrangement of the plot being the story or as described by the Russian formalist, Viktor Shklovsky, fibula (story) and syuzhet (plot). A prominent example of this is in such films as The Usual Suspects (Bryan Singer, 1995) or Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000) where the plot and story are quite different, the story not being presented chronologically.

Narration, the plot’s way of distributing story information in order to achieve specific effects. Narration is the moment by moment process that guides us in building the story out of the plot.

Re-arranging the plot of narratives can be a powerful technique as it can easily create suspense, curiosity, fear, satisfaction, motivation to know more of the situation. Film as a narrative medium, more or less does have closure of story or events, as in the end order is established, stability has been restored.

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