15.02.16 – What is Narratology?

“A narrative is a text in which an agent or subject conveys to an addresse a story in a particular medium, such as language, imagery, sound, buildings of a combination thereof”.

Narratology is the study of narratives and concerns itself with how someone tells a story through a particular medium. It focuses on the methods used to grasp and hold an audience’s attention and asks how processes such as speaking and accounting occur. A narrative is not a story and therefore should not be confused with one.

Story & Fabula

Unlike narratives, the story focuses solely on the actual series of events that are taking place inside the narrative and therefore deals with the actual content of the story rather than how that content was made.

“A story is the content of a text and produces a particular manifestation, inflection and ‘colouring’ of a fabula”.Concept image with What is Your Story printed on an old typewriter

A story can also be confused with another term ‘fabula’ which is “a series of logically and chronologically related events that are caused or experienced by actors”. So although stories usually have different events, some can still have the same fabula. For example, the fabula for a typical Romatic Comedy would be this:


If a fabula and the way the story is told becomes extremely common, it becomes what is known as a plot (syuzhet) which can be the same and found in many different films. The reason as to why we do not get bored of films that have the same formula is because they are dressed up in a different way.



This focuses on the manner in which the narrative addresses the addressee (whether it is in first person, third person, etc) and from what perspective (whether it is subjective or objective).


If we have a subjective addressor that means we are seeing the story from the agent’s perspective and that we only hear one side of the story. An objective addressor means that we get to see multiple views making the audience interact and participate more, hence creating a connection.

Although it is easier to tell the story from one perspective, this forces an opinion onto us which we might not agree with and limits us to just one view. This is often done deliberately in order to make a point and force audience members to think about certain beliefs/morals. However, it could also leave certain people feeling uneasy especially if, for example, you are forced to follow the journey of a some psychopathic killer.


This allows us to step into someone else’s shoes creating audience identification which draws us further into the narrative. This is done by using imagery that replicates or mimics a certain position during which the audience is sharing the eyes of the addressor. This can lead to the audience believing that they are the character and eventually find themselves becoming that person.

A good example of this is First Person video games which allow the player to become someone else and view the world from the eyes of their avatar. This also reminds me of films such as Quarantine (2008) and Cloverfield (2008) in which we watch the events unfold from a cameraman’s perspective.

This can affect the way we look at something and potentially result in losing sight of why it is wrong to look at something from a certain perspective. We are also coerced into adopting what is known as the ‘Male Gaze’.

What is the Male Gaze?

This is the way visual arts are structured around a masculine viewer and how there is a tendency for women to be depicted from a man’s point of view and are framed in a certain light. Laura Mulvey states that the female figure has become somewhat essential in films, but that the appearance of women “tends to work against the development of a story line” and “freeze[s] the flow of action in moments of erotic contemplation” (Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (1989).

A good example of this would be all the James Bond films in which women are sexualised and their only purpose seems to be that of being a source of eye-candy and pleasure models which, as a woman, I find to be extremely offensive and aggravating.


Waltz with Bashir – Ari Folman (2008)

We then moved on to watching a few minutes of the animated film mentioned above whilst trying to spot any of the things we learnt in class today.


The Narrative
This constantly interchanges between the HE and I narrative forms. The focus shifts from the protagonist and other various characters as throughout the film the protagonist interviews people in the hopes of piecing back together a fragmented story. We are following the protagonist’s journey and like him are trying to get the bigger picture.



 Throughout the film, there are flashbacks during which we relate to that particular person and made to see through their eyes.

This scene is a good example of occularistion as well as the adoption of the male gaze.


This plays a big part in this film as it reflects the emotions a particular character is feeling at the time and helps us empathize with them. In certain instances, very dramatic music is used in order to reflect the fear of the soldiers.


Underlying message
Throughout the film we are forced to watch things that make us feel uncomfortable, such as people being gravely injured or witnessing events that are gruesome and heart-wrenching. The underlying message of this film seems to be anti-war, however the means by which this message is put across is quite unconventional as it uses a lot of dark humour and involves scenes which seem to poke fun at the idea of war and violence.


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