Narrative – Week 9

We’ve been surrounded by stories from a young age such as fairy tales and religion. Even dreams are kinds of narratives – it’s how we make sense of the world.

How a movie tells a story with cinematic language.

What’s the difference between story and narrative? A story is a sequence of events whilst a narrative is how the story is told.

Our engagement with the story depends on our understanding of the pattern of change and stability, cause and effect, time and space. A chain of random events may be hard to understand. We need connection whether it be visual or cause and effect. Planning narrative form involves time structure and viewpoints.

What’s the difference between story and plot?

A story (whole picture in the chronicle order) is a sequence of events while a plot involves how the sequence of events unfold. The story are all the narrative events that are explicitly presented on screen AND all the events that are implicit or are inferred to have happened but are not shown.

The plot consists of specific actions and events that the filmmakers select and the order in which way they arrange these events to effectively convey the narrative. Voice over, music and titles are also parts of the plot.

The best plots are the lesser ones where the audience can use their imagination to create the story – without leaving out too much information.

Cause and Effect

Characters are the most often cause. The character can be played by more than one actor or be a voice over. There are also external (non-character) events.

Some plots withhold causes and only show effects – detective films. Some may only show causes and not events – thrillers.


needed for cause and effects.

  • Temporal order – How events are sequenced.

Story order is chronological while plot order can be manipulated so sequences can emphasise importance or meaning or establish expectations.

Momento (2000) and Pulp Fiction is a good example.

  • Temporal Duration – How long do the events take

Story duration is how long the implied story takes. Screen duration is the movie’s running time on-screen.

  1. Summary relationship – screen duration is shorter than plot duration.
  2. Real time relationship – plot and screen duration are the same.
  3. Stretch relationship – screen duration is longer than plot (slow motion).
  • Temporal frequency – how often we see an event (flashback, multiple narrators).

Events may be repeated to show their importance or to show it from a different perspective as it may not be what it seemed at first.

1 – man walks into a bar

2- sits beside old man

3- old man hits him with walking stick

4- pulls out a gun/barfight

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