Narratology and Story-making in Film

Two types of fictional narratives

Mimesis (showing)
Diegesis (telling)

Diegesis is used by film critics to describe the fictional world created by a films narration

Narratology is the stuffy of how stories work; how we make sense of them; how we fit them together to form a coherent whole

Narratologists study different narrative structures, storytelling strategies, aesthetic conventions, types of stories (genres), and their symbolic implications

Story v.s. plot

Many film noirs present stories in complicated plots; they are heavily reliant on flashbacks

Classical Paradigm – conflict between a protagonist, who initiates action, and an antagonist, who resists it

Realism – portrays life without distortion

Formalism – emphasizes world of imagination (abstract editing/style – e.g. showing snippets of character’s line

Adaptation – many adaptations of literary sources

Genre & Myth

Film critics and scholars classify genre movies into 4 main cycles:

Genres have a way of springing back to life after taking a rest for a few years (e.g. Chicago – Musical)


  • Manner of the presentation – general atmosphere created
    • Tone affects the audiences response
    • Acting styles can determine the tone
  • Genre also helps determine a films tone
  • Voice over narrator can determine tone
    • E.g. Clockwork Orange – narrated by a thug
    • E.g. Maelstrom – used a fish as a narrator – creates a novelistic mood.
    • Music can also create tone (commonly used method)
    • Story