January 14 , 2013 2
Narrative Form and Classical Hollywood Cinema
Definition of Film Form (a collection of elements): A system of relationships among elements. –
arranged in a particular to tell a story, thwart expectations and confuse you, argue point etc.
o Narrative elements
Tell the story
The actions of the CHARACTERS
Scenes depicted on screen, their order
Organized in order to engage our interest, chronological order usually, so you
can understand? Not looper, eternal sunshine…, inception, lost etc., KILLERS,
relies heavily on flashbacks so we can MENTALLY construct the story. Film
provides us with cues so we can arrange the scenes in chronological order in our
mind and piece together a narrative.
o Stylistic Elements (week 3 and 5)
Visual and sonic devices through which a film tells a story
Background music, patterns
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
o Documentary form (voiceover, interviews)
United 93 (2006)
o Narrative form (story, actors, causeeffect, plot)
Principles of Film Form
o Function: the role or effect of any element in a films form.
How would the plot differ in the absence of the element?
o No flat tire, no mob, no escape, protagonists don’t meet!
Singing in the rain: cosmos car suffering a flat tireleading up to a swarming
mob to form around the cardon has to escape, and lands in Kathy Seldin’s car!
Most elements multiple functions: i.e. somewhere over the rainbow judy
garland: commercial (sell the song on records), establish dorothys desire to
leave home, anticipate her entry into the colourful world of Oz.
When an element if repeated across the film, it’s called a MOTIF.
o Wizard of Oz: “we’re off to see the wizard”
o Singin’ in the Rain:
the theme of appearance vs reality, don’s varies costumes
white at beginning as arrogant
becomes more human, down to earth, wears
darker clothing, changes in profession and
E.g. Four-Act Structure
E.g. unity, narrative closure
E.g. distunity, makes us ask questions, sequels
Pulp fiction, complete disunity, no nutritive cl