ELCS6031 - Considering Narrative Structure in Film
Value: 0.5 course units
Tutor: Ruth Austin
Assessment: 2 assessed essays of 2,000 words each.
This seminar considers some of the ways in which narrative can be constructed in film. Beginning with the question ‘what is narrative?’ the seminar examines how key techniques in film-making function in relation to the narrative form. We will examine the use of music and sound as well as the visual image.
Le Sang d’un poète is an example of avant-garde film-making in which Cocteau presents an oneiric, episodic “film poem” which exploits the possibilities of non-synchronous sound and juxtaposed images. The use of the flash back is explored in the example of Citizen Kane as is the experimental "lying" flashback in Stage Fright and the innovative flashback in Rashomon. In Accident we will examine the use of the sonic flashback and in The Elephant Man we will consider among other elements of the film the function of the sound landscape and its role in creating the narrative. In Jacquot de Nantes the use of intercutting of documentary and film clips with a fictional narrative and the possibilities of the voiceover are analysed. Finally, Memento, plays with, fragments and questions the convention of narrative structure.
- Le Sang d’un poète (Jean Cocteau, France, 1930)
- Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, USA, 1941)
- Stage Fright (Alfred Hitchcock, UK, 1950)
- Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1950)
- Accident (Joseph Losey, UK, 1967)
- The Elephant Man (David Lynch, UK, 1980)
- Jacquot de Nantes (Agnès Varda, France, 1991)
- Memento (Christopher Nolan, USA, 2000)
Initial Secondary Bibliography:
- David Bordwell, Kristin Thompson, Film art: an introduction (any edition)
- William Guynn, ed, The Routledge companion to film history (New York, NY: Routledge, 2010)
- Michel Chion, Film, A Sound Art (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009) translated by Claudia Gorbman.
- Michael Ryan, An introduction to film analysis: technique and meaning in narrative film (London: Continuum, 2011).