Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gunning - Narrative Discourse and the Narrator System

Gunning, Tom. “Narrative Discourse and the Narrator System.” From Braudy, Leo, and Marshall Cohen. Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, 470-481.

How do films tell a story?

Gerard Genette, a literary critic, breaks narrative into three different meanings: story (content), narrative (the text that communicates the story), narrating (the act of telling). Gunning takes the later on in this essay, renaming it "narrative discourse."

Three functions of narrative discourse:
1. tense (temporal relation between discourse and story)
2. mood (point of view, narration's perspective to the story)
3. voice (relation of narration to the story, first or third person narrative)

Gunning adds a fourth - narrativization - to use Genette's theories on film.
Three parts of film narrativization:
1. pro-filmic - mise-en-scene - everything placed in front of the camera to be filmed
2. enframed image - mise-en-cadre - the act of transferring what is in front of the camera to celluloid
3. editing - mise-en-chain - after the act of filming

Griffith changed "the way films are narrated" and because "audience is an active spectator who contributes to the construction of the narrative," "the way films are viewed."

Uses Paul Ricoeur, who points out that maintaining the term narrator emphasizes that the film is a product of human labor assembled by a creator.

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