Narration Form

First lecture back after Easter with Yuanyuan (5.4.16)

  • Narrative

What is Narrative? How do you understand it?

We can consider a narrative to be a chain of events linked by cause and effect and occurring in time and space.

Typically, a narrative begins with one situation; a series of changes occurs according to a pattern of a chain of events.

A random string of events is hard to understand as a narrative.

Actions: “A man has a fight wit his boss. He tosses and turns at night unable to sleep. In the morning, he is still so angry that he smashes the mirror while shaving. Then his telephone rings; his boss called to apologise.” This is then an example of what a narrative should be, all the actions are tied together and this makes a story.

  • Narration

Story and Plot

The story consists of (1) all the narrative events that are explicitly presented on-screen, plus (2) all the events that are implicit or that we infer to have happened but are not explicitly presented.

The plot consists of the specific actions and events that the filmmakers select and the order, in which they arrange those events so as to effectively convey the narrative to the viewer. Plot also includes those things that we see and hear on the screen that come from the outside the world of the story, such as score music (words not originating form the world of the story), titles and credits (words superimposed over the images on-screen), and voice-over comments from a third person voice over narrator.

The same story can be presented in different ways – rendered as different plots.

From the filmmaker’s perspective, the story exists as a precondition for the plot and the film maker what story is being told before going through the difficult job of selecting events to show on screen and determining the order in which they will be presented.

For the viewers, the story is an abstraction. A construct that we piece together as the elements of the plot unfold before us on-screen, and our impressions about the story often shift and adjust throughout the movie as more of the plot is revealed.


  • Time
  1. Temporal Order – How are events sequenced?

Unlike story order, which necessarily flows chronologically (as does life), plot order can be manipulated so that the events are presented in non chronological sequences that emphasise importance or meaning or that establish expectations in audience.

  • 1-2-3-4     2-1-3-4- (Flashback).

3-1-2-4- (Flashback).

1-2-4-3- (Flashforward).

2. Temporal Order – How long do events take?

Duration is the length of time.

Story duration, the amount of time that the implied story takes to occur.

Story Duration vs. Plot Duration

Imagine a hypothetical movie that follows the lives of two people over the course of 4 hours.




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