Film lecture September 23, 2013
What determines casuality? Cause leads to effect, cause becomes effect… etc.
• Film presents us with events that we see and hear, credits and titles, and music that
characters can’t hear.
The story is everything that occurs, those that we infer or assume have happened, as well as
what is presented to us. The diegesis – the total world of the story action
The Plot is everything visible and audibly presented to us; does not include inferred events.
o “a chain of events linked by cause and effect and occurring in time and space”
causality: what leads to an event occurring?
§ causal chains: cause(s) lead to effect(s) which in turn become the cause of
further events, and so on . . .
plot and story
§ story: “In a narrative film, all the events that we see and hear, plus all those
that we infer or assume to have occurred, arranged in their presumed
causal relations, chronological order, duration, frequency, and spatial
locations” (BT 504-05)
· diegesis: “the total world of story action” (BT 76)
§ plot: everything visible and audibly present in the film before us
· the plot includes nondiegetic material
· nondiegetic: images and sounds are those that are outside the
story world: credits, mood music, commentary, etc
inferred events are part of the story, but NOT part of the plot
§ inferred events:
· before the plot begins
· after the plot ends
· during the time covered by the plot but not explicitly presented
narration: the plot’s way of distributing story information in order to achieve specific
effects—suspense, surprise, ambiguity.
Plot is able to give more information about the story.
Example: Ocean’s eleven 1960 vs. 2000
8 general characteristics of the classic Hollywood narrative
1. Individual characters as causal agents and register or react to the effects.
- The psychological state of the characters determine how a movie is going to turn out.
Although the filmmakers create these characters. Characters do not think for
- The character traits all have narrative objectives. They are the way they are due to a
function of the narrative.
2. Character desires and goals (public goal and private goal)
- Public goal is usually an investigation
- Private goal is usually the romance aspect of the movie.
3. Obstacles: leading to conflict
-necessary to create interesting films
4. Change: development; “character arc”
- Something will be different from beginning to end. Cause and effect infers change and
5. Unrestricted over Restricted Narration (Range of story information by viewers)
- unrestricted is favoured over restricted - unrestricted is called all-knowing narration, if the viewer knows more than any given character.
- Narration is never fully unrestricted, there is always missing information for the viewer.
- Often used to suspense, irony, and in epic story telling
- Restricted narration occurs when the viewer knows less than any given character
- Never fully restricted. Often used to mystery, curiosity and surprise
- Most films vary between restricted and unrestricted
- To determine whether a film is restricted or not we can ask who knows what when
6. Objective over Subjective Narration (Depth of story information)
- favours objective narration in Hollywood
- Objective narrations allows us to hear her voice without being inside their mind
- Subjective allows us to be inside their head to learn more about a certain character (ex: point-
- Perceptual subjectivity, we see what the character sees, or hear what they hear
- Mental subjectivity are hallucinations, memories or dreams of characters (ex: harry potter’s
- Lola run is mostly subjective. At times we get mental and perceptual subjectivity.
- How deeply do I know the characters feelings and thoughts?