Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Assignment 2: Analytical Task

To complete Assignment 2, you need to write a 1,200 word essay analysing the film poster and trailer for the film you chose to study throughout this unit.

The original case study research task you completed back in January is here.

This Assignment 2 essay guidance might help you structure your essay but you don't need to stick to it exactly - original and effective responses will be awarded top marks. 

One of the most important aspects of good academic essay writing is topic sentences. Make sure that you start each section with a simple topic sentence that clearly introduces what the following paragraph will address. For example:
The Taken trailer clearly and effectively establishes the narrative of the film to the audience. Applying Todorov's theory of narrative structure, the equilibrium is established in the opening 20 seconds... 
In an academic essay, good topic sentences are used instead of subheadings for each section. The only exception to this is the final section analysing your own production work. You need to keep this section separate from the main essay.

Work completed so far

The work we have done over the last month evaluating our production work, analysing representation and applying narrative theories can all be used in this essay. In fact, you may well find you've written around half the essay already.

Copy the work over from your blog posts into Microsoft Word - making sure that you are using topic sentences as outlined above.

Essay deadlines

You will have lesson time to work on this and the essay must be written in school under teacher supervision.

Your teacher will give you individual targets for each lesson you work on this to ensure you reach the 1,200 words required.

Year 9 Narrative Theory work - blog post

Our work on narrative theory gives us an excellent opportunity to show understanding and application of media theorists in the Assignment 2 analytical task. This is the next part of your essay :)

1. Start a new blog post and call it 'Narrative Theory' (or do it in Microsoft Word, save it to your Media shared drive and upload once finished)

2. Re-watch the trailer for your film (Moana, Hunger Games, Precious) with your book in your hand. Make notes on Todorov, Propp and Barthes and how they apply to YOUR case study film. Examples below. You need to say a little bit about what the theory is and then apply it eg

Todorov stated that all narratives start off with an Equilibrium and then a disruption (Disequilibrium) where everything changes and then ends with a New Equilibrium where calm is restored. 
In my case study Hunger Games, I can apply this theory because, at the start there is an Equilibrium when Katniss lives in a society where the young people from various districts are sent off to fight in the annual Hunger Games. The Disequilibrium occurs when her sister is chosen and she volunteers to go in her place. This means she has to learn fighting skills and become skilled enough to survive. The New Equilibrium will come when she is successful in her mission. 

Do the same for Propp and Barthes. Come and see me if you are struggling to apply the theories but have a go first!

3. Make sure all your work on Representation is up to date and posted on your blog.

Extension - Go back to your own film poster and trailer (storyboard) for Assignment 2 and add theory to analysis of your own work.

The key notes from today's lesson:

Narrative definition: (Noun) A spoken or written account of connected events; a story

Todorov: equilibrium
Tzvetan Todorov is a Franco-Bulgarian philosopher. He suggests that all narratives follow a three part structure.

They begin with equilibrium, where everything is balanced, progress as something comes along to disrupt that equilibrium, and finally reach a resolution, when a new equilibrium is restored.

Equilibrium > Disequilibrium > New equilibrium

This can be applied to almost all film narratives.


Propp: character types
Vladimir Propp was a Soviet scholar who analyzed the basic plot components of Russian folk tales to identify their narrative elements.

His theory states that there are only a certain number of characters, who crop up in most narratives.

Protagonist (or Hero) 
Leads the narrative, is usually looking for something (a quest) or trying to solve something (a mystery).

Antagonist (or Villain) 
Gets in the protagonist's way; rival or enemy.

Heroine 
Usually some sort of ‘prize’ or reward for the hero. (Note: if your hero is female, your heroine can be male)

Father 
An authority figure who offers a reward to the hero for completing their quest. That reward might be a prince or a princess or a new job or promotion.

Helper 
Helps the hero - often acts as a sidekick

Donor 
Gives the hero something - a clue, a talisman, a special power - which helps them complete their quest

Mentor 
Teaches and guides the hero


Barthes: enigma and action codes
Roland Barthes was a French literary theorist.

Barthes' Enigma Code is a theory that suggests a text (whether that be television, film, a poster etc) portrays a mystery to draw an audience in, pose questions and, as such, become intrigued in the piece. 

For instance, a murder mystery will often not reveal the identity of the murderer until the end of the story, which poses the question "Who is the murderer?"

Barthes' Action Code relates to tension: any action or event that suggests something else may happen – and therefore keep the audience engaged. A good example would be a gun being drawn - the audience know a dramatic scene will follow.

Action codes work alongside enigma codes to engage and maintain the interest of the audience.

In a film trailer, they are used to intrigue the audience and make them want to pay to see the whole film. This is a crucial aspect of film marketing.

Ms Hill cover work: Tuesday 2 May

Ms Hill is still not well - she sends her apologies.

You got some great work done last week and today we need to continue our preparation for the Assignment 2 Analytical Task. Last week, you were worked on media theories and representation.

The first thing you need to do is finish those paragraphs: THREE for media theory and TWO for representation (on two different aspects e.g. gender and race/ethnicity). 

The narrative theory notes are here if you need to refer to them and the narrative theory blog task is here.

The representation notes and example are here. Here are some representation questions to help you.

It seems that some of you haven't written an evaluation of your Assignment 2 production work (film poster and storyboard trailer). The evaluation task is here so make sure this is completed too.

If you have any questions, let Mr Halsey, Ms Quinn or Ms Fowler know.

Good luck! 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ms Hill cover work: Tuesday 25 April

Ms Hill will not be in Media today - she sends her apologies.

You need to continue the work you've been doing towards the Assignment 2 Analytical Task. Last week, you were introduced to media theories and representation.

Today, we're going to re-focus on the three narrative theories and develop extended paragraphs that we can use in our essay later this term. 

The narrative theory notes are here if you need to refer to them and the narrative theory blog task is here.

If you have any questions, let Mr Halsey, Ms Quinn or Ms Fowler know.

Good luck! 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Narrative theory: blog task

Your blog task is to apply our three narrative theories to the film trailer you are analysing for Assignment 2.

You need to analyse the trailer on your blog using the three theories we have learned in class:

Todorov: equilibrium
Propp: character types
Barthes: enigma and action codes

Embed the trailer in your blog and then write your analysis in full sentences and paragraphs making specific reference to moments in the trailer.

Word count: 250 words minimum.


Example: Silver Linings Playbook


The trailer for Silver Linings Playbook uses many narrative techniques typical of Hollywood romantic comedies. Applying Propp's character theory, we have a clear protagonist or hero in Bradley Cooper's character Patrick - although Jennifer Lawrence's character Tiffany is also a major character so doesn't quite fit the role of Propp's Heroine. In many ways, she is shown to be the stronger character and it is her quest (to compete in the dance competition) that drives the narrative. Robert De Niro offers the classic Father character (and is actually Pat's father) while Chris Tucker plays the Helper role as Pat's friend. These well known character types quickly help establish the romantic comedy genre and allow audiences to understand the main relationships within the two-minute running time of the trailer.

The film's narrative is clearly introduced in the trailer and follows Todorov's theory of equilibrium. The state of balance is the character of Pat trying to get his life back together following his spell in a psychiatric institution. The introduction of Tiffany creates the disequilibrium - along with the request to compete in the dance competition. The new equilibrium is not shown in the trailer - this is critical because even though a standard Hollywood romantic comedy narrative would suggest the couple get together in the end, the audience have to watch the whole film to enjoy this resolution.

The trailer is full of Barthes' enigma and action codes. These are designed to draw the audience in and encourage them to watch the whole film to resolve their questions. The major enigma codes the audience will consider revolve around whether the couple get together and whether they win the dance competition. However, there are other enigma codes such as what has happened in each character's past to cause psychiatric problems - particularly concerning Pat's stay in the psychiatric hospital. Although action codes are less important in the genre of romantic comedy, there are still plenty of dramatic scenes such as the book being thrown out of the window. This suggests there will be moments of drama and tension in the film and the only way to see these resolved and in full is to watch the whole movie.


Extension questions...

1) Why do film institutions use recognisable stock characters (as per Propp's theory) in most Hollywood films?

2) Why do audiences often prefer films that follow a standard narrative structure such as Todorov's equilibrium and disequilibrium?

3) How do action and enigma codes make audiences want to continue watching a film?

Narrative theory: key notes

Our work on narrative theory gives us an excellent opportunity to show understanding and application of media theorists in the Assignment 2 analytical task.

The key notes from today's lesson:

Narrative definition: (Noun) A spoken or written account of connected events; a story

Todorov: equilibrium
Tzvetan Todorov is a Franco-Bulgarian philosopher. He suggests that all narratives follow a three part structure.

They begin with equilibrium, where everything is balanced, progress as something comes along to disrupt that equilibrium, and finally reach a resolution, when a new equilibrium is restored.

Equilibrium > Disequilibrium > New equilibrium

This can be applied to almost all film narratives.


Propp: character types
Vladimir Propp was a Soviet scholar who analyzed the basic plot components of Russian folk tales to identify their narrative elements.

His theory states that there are only a certain number of characters, who crop up in most narratives.

Protagonist (or Hero) 
Leads the narrative, is usually looking for something (a quest) or trying to solve something (a mystery).

Antagonist (or Villain) 
Gets in the protagonist's way; rival or enemy.

Heroine 
Usually some sort of ‘prize’ or reward for the hero. (Note: if your hero is female, your heroine can be male)

Father 
An authority figure who offers a reward to the hero for completing their quest. That reward might be a prince or a princess or a new job or promotion.

Helper 
Helps the hero - often acts as a sidekick

Donor 
Gives the hero something - a clue, a talisman, a special power - which helps them complete their quest

Mentor 
Teaches and guides the hero


Barthes: enigma and action codes
Roland Barthes was a French literary theorist.

Barthes' Enigma Code is a theory that suggests a text (whether that be television, film, a poster etc) portrays a mystery to draw an audience in, pose questions and, as such, become intrigued in the piece. 

For instance, a murder mystery will often not reveal the identity of the murderer until the end of the story, which poses the question "Who is the murderer?"

Barthes' Action Code relates to tension: any action or event that suggests something else may happen – and therefore keep the audience engaged. A good example would be a gun being drawn - the audience know a dramatic scene will follow.

Action codes work alongside enigma codes to engage and maintain the interest of the audience.

In a film trailer, they are used to intrigue the audience and make them want to pay to see the whole film. This is a crucial aspect of film marketing.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Representation: help with case study films

Representation is probably the most challenging Media key concept to understand and apply to our own choice of text.

If you're struggling to write your paragraph analysing the representation of people or groups in your chosen trailer, use the questions below to help you:

Taken
  • How is the white middle-class male hero presented? Is this representation conforming to other representations of white men in action films? Why?
  • How are females represented? Are the women being rescued by men? Why?
  • How are eastern-Europeans represented? What might the fact the human-traffickers are Albanian suggest to the audience? 
  • How is Europe represented? Remember, the film involves an American girl visiting Europe for the first time - is Europe presented as safe? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.

Suffragette
  • How are women represented in the trailer? What specific examples can you provide from the trailer to support his? Are traditional female roles subverted?
  • How are working class people represented in the trailer? How are the middle or upper classes represented? Does this reinforce or challenge traditional stereotypes?
  • How are men represented in the trailer? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.

Spectre
  • How are men represented in the trailer? Is this representation conforming to other representations of men in action films? Why?
  • How are females represented? What message might this send to the audience?
  • How is Britain or London represented? Is this a stereotypical representation of Great Britain?
  • How are European people represented? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • How is social class represented in Spectre? Does it reinforce or challenge stereotypes about the British class system?

Juno
  • How are teenagers represented? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • How are teenage girls represented? Does the film use stereotypes? Are stereotypes reinforced or challenged?
  • How is the issue of teenage pregnancy represented? Is this the representation you would expect in the media?
  • How are teenage relationships represented? Do these representations reinforce or challenge stereotypes?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • How are teenagers represented? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • How are teenage boys represented? Are the boys traditional American teenage 'geeks' or does the film subvert this notion? Why?
  • How are females represented? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • How are white people represented? Is this typical? Why?
  • How is the gay character represented? Is he an outsider? Why?

Frozen
  • How are females represented? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • Does the film subvert tradition gender roles? How is the Princess different to princesses in other Disney films? Why?
  • How are males represented? What examples can you provide to support his? 
  • How are fairy tales represented? Why?

Captain America: Civil War
  • How are men represented in the trailer? Is this representation reinforcing the representations of men in Hollywood action films? How? Why?
  • Is there any female representation in the trailer? What message might this send to the audience?
  • How is authority represented - police, government etc.? Does this fit the typical representation of authority in Hollywood action or comic book films?

Django Unchanined
  • How are black people represented? Is this a fair and honest portrayal of slavery? Why?
  • How are women represented? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • How are white non-American represented? Why?
  • How are white men represented? Why?
  • Is it as simple as saying black people are represented as good and white people as bad? Why?

Precious
  • How is family represented? Is this a stereotypical dysfunctional American family? Why? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • How are black people represented? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • How are obese people represented? Why
  • How are women represented? Why?
  • How is disability represented? Why?
  • How is American life represented? Is this the picture of American life we normally see in Hollywood films?

Moana
  • How are women represented in the film trailer? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • How are men represented in the trailer? Is this a typical representation for Disney films?
  • How are Pacific Islanders represented? Is the representation fair? Accurate? Does this reinforce or subvert stereotypical representations of race/ethnicity in Hollywood film?

The Hunger Games
  • How are women represented in the trailer? Are traditional female roles subverted? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • How are men represented? Is this different to what we'd expect in a Hollywood action adventure film?
  • How is the political hierarchy and those in power represented (President Snow and his army)? Why?
  • How does the Hunger Games trailer suggest the film might be making wider points about real life and the media (reality TV, materialism etc)? What might these representations suggest to the audience?