Y13 Narrative Essay

Over half term, please answer the question:

Apply theories of narrative to one of your coursework productions.

Use the PP, table and theories sheet to help you do this.

30 minutes prep, 30 minutes to write the response.

Bon chance!

P.S some of you need to catch up with the other tables. Please email a table for each of the concepts we have done (language, genre, audience)





QUESTION 1b (25 marks) essay structure


You have 30 minutes to write your answer, so you should be aiming for at least 2 sides – perhaps an introduction and conclusion with four to five main body paragraphs

Introduction –

  • Introduce the product you are going to write about
  • Define/give some background context to the topic

Main body –

This answer is very theoretical and requires you to be able to frame your answer around these theories. Like the first answer, regardless of the topic, you should always be able to relate your answer back to ANGRILI – audience, narrative, genre, representation, institution, language, ideology – of course the primary focus is whatever the question is asking you about but be aware that it is impossible to write about one media area without at least referencing others.

Below are some of the theorists you might use (they are all on the PowerPoints which are on the blog):


Stuart Hall – encoding, decoding

Maslow – hierarchy of needs

Young and Rubicam – 4 cs

Vance Packard – 8 hidden needs


Roland Barthes – enigma and action codes

Todorov – equilibrium model

Propp – 8 spheres of action (fairy tales)

Levi Strauss – binary oppositions


Hartley – genre = ideological closure

Fowler – audiences have a pre-existing knowledge

Gledhill – shorthand

Dyer – escapist pleasures

Neale – repetition and difference

Fiske – preferred reading

Abercrombie – pleasure through manipulation

Media language

Stuart Hall – encoding, decoding, preferred reading

Roland Barthes – media myths


Stuart Hall – encoding and decoding – active audience, preferred reading, negotiated reading, oppositional reading

Stuart Pryce – dominant ideology

Richard Dyer – the ‘real’ – mediation

Tessa Perkins – stereotypes


Laura Mulvey – male gaze

Naomi Wolfe – iron maiden

Alison Bechdel – the Bechdel test


Zygmunt Bauman – liquid modernity and postmodern consumerism

Jean Baudrillard – hypereality


Theodor Adorno – the culture industry and commodity fetishism

Louis Althusser



Orientalist readings

Edward Said


Entity’ is a paranormal horror shown entirely through the use of CCTV cameras. It is about a young female who was bullied at school and has returned seeking revenge. After studying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I established that when promoted with two films of the same genre, the one which was abstract is more likely to be chosen by an audience member. I constructed a trilogy of 3 short teaser trailers, each about 10 seconds long, through CCTV imagery. I chose to use CCTV footage because I felt it was easy to create realistically. We added night vision effects to the images, in shades of blues and greens. These were generic codes – connotating the poison and depression that the girl had felt before she died.

Our trailer uses a strong trait of Barthes’ enigma codes, as well as ideas from Richard Dyer’s typography. The first shot the audience sees is of a girl, outside at ‘night’. We used melodramatic ideas of pathetic fallacy to create mystery, with it stereotypically at night time. There is no dialogue in ‘Entity’ and all the shots are of high angles, facing downwards, belittling the girl, symbolically showing she is of no importance. Questions are raised instantly in the audience’s minds in relation to Dyer’s typography, for example who is she? And why is she there?

Each of the 3 trailers progress intension as they continue, with the sound (mainly ambience, with deep strings and loud bass) heightening in volume to build suspense. Each of our trailers abide by the first half of Todorov’s theory – each starts in equilibrium, which is disrupted by the girl of paranormal happenings – but equilibrium is never restored. This raises more questions in the audiences minds and promotes them to keep watching. In the second of the 3 trailers, the girl is seen to be an asylum- which is in fact a school.

We used the idea of Levi Strauss’ binary oppositions in the location itself – a school is seen to be a trusted, good place, but instead there are awful things happening there. Secondly, the girl is wearing a white, oversized hospital gown with bare feet. Her lack of shoes may show her childlike mental state, but particularly her white dress connotes innocence, purity – however she is the opposite. There is a myth with her costume since stereotypically hospital gowns would connote healing and well being, but this time the character is evil and deathly. This voices further questions in the audiences’ minds.

In the last trailer, the girl is seen to appear in the school toilets, perhaps insinuating that bad things happened there. She appears in the mirror – and a typical stereotype of the female population is to be seen vain, staring at themselves. However the girl does not look at herself, she makes eye contact with the camera, perhaps in a plea for help and to engage with the audience. This can be seen, as Tessa Perkins said, to oppose normal stereotypes, but in particular in Laura Mulvey’s theory of the male gaze.

Our character is represented as a hysterical desperate female – but she is obviously evil and is not sexualised in any way. This opposes the idea that men dominate society, and in ‘Entity’ in particular, the bad events are certainly female based. ‘Entity’ does not obey theories such as Propp’s character functions since she is the only character – a villain – and so the plot cannot be driven by a hero. There is a restricted narrative structure since we aimed for audience members to decode our piece in their own way.


Our whole teaser is an enigma code (one of Roland Barthes 5 codes) but we also use symbolic codes with deeper meanings to mirror the hard, tormented life of the girl. Richard Dyer’s typography paired with constant opposing conventions and justapositions (both Strauss and Neale’s ideas) very appealing to our target audience.

AS Audience and Institutions: Disney Bets $1 Billion on Technology to Track Theme-Park Visitors

Disney Bets $1 Billion on Technology to Track Theme-Park Visitors

MyMagic+, Walt Disney’s $1 billion experiment in crowd control

At Disney theme parks vistors are now issued with My Magic bands:

It’s a complete game changer,” says Douglas Quinby, vice president for research at PhoCusWright, a travel consulting firm.

MyMagic+ promises far more radical change. It’s a sweeping reservation and ride planning system that allows for bookings months in advance on a website or smartphone app. Bracelets called MagicBands, which link electronically to an encrypted database of visitor information, serve as admission tickets, hotel keys, and credit or debit cards; a tap against a sensor pays for food or trinkets. The bands have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips—which critics derisively call spychips because of their ability to monitor people and things.

That tracking power also is what makes them so important for Disney’s $14.1 billion theme park and resort business. Intelligence collected using the bands coupled with what visitors input into the related My Disney Experience app and website—all voluntary—help Disney determine when to add more staff at rides, what restaurants should serve, which souvenirs should be stocked, and how many employees in costume should roam around at any given time. Data about customer preferences could be used to craft e-mails or text messages alerting them to restaurant menu changes or sudden openings for reservations in an expedited queue at Space Mountain or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.


AS Essay

We will discuss this question in class and you will tackle the question in a week’s time for homework.

“Media production is dominated by global companies” What are the implications of this statement for the film industry?

(Aim for 750 words – in the exam you will have 45 minutes)



Discuss the background of the world film industry. Which place is the most powerful film industry in the world? How many institutions dominate the industry? Describe some of these companies – what types of company are they? Give a little bit of background about The Walt Disney Company and identify that you will be primarily focusing on this institution. Now return to the question, what is this essay going to explore: Are American conglomerates damaging for the film industry? What are the consequences of their ability to saturate the advertising, dominate multiplexes etc? Can independent film survive?

Disney domination

  1. Vertical and horizontal integration – explain what these are and give examples of why this gives Disney such an advantage. For example, why is owning ABC of benefit for Disney when they are marketing a film? Or what are the consequences of Disney buying successful film institutions such as Marvel and Pixar? Why is so useful for Disney to be able to control all aspects of film production, marketing and distribution?
  2. Globalisation – describe what globalisation is and consider how the USA has been able to exert cultural imperialism over the rest of the world through Hollywood. In particular, you should consider the idea of Disneyfication – why is Disney’s dominance damaging for other cultures but also children in general?
  3. Decline in diversity – what genres of film are conglomerates such as Disney creating? Can they be considered varied? Are a variety of audiences gratified by these films? Are films by Disney are the films made by other conglomerate companies creative? Can commercial film really be considered an art form?
  4. Dumbing down – do Disney make films that are challenging for audiences or do the films largely stick to tried and tested money making formulas? Remember to consider the quote by the Disney CEO Michael Eisner – We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make a statement. To make money is our only objective. - Michael EisnerIs this true today? Are Disney films all about making money?

The consequences for independent film

  1. Are there any examples of successful independent film institutions?
  2. What are the challenges facing indie film?
  3. What is the situation with the British film industry? Consider the example of Aardman Animation, a British success story. Who distributes their films – why can’t they do it?
  4. Why are so many other indie film makers struggling?
  5. Why has the internet helped the indie film industry?


How do you envisage the future of film? Will conglomerates continue to dominate or might there be a renaissance of indie film? Are companies such as the Walt Disney Company crushing creativity and diversity or is it possible for companies such as Disney, 20th Century Fox and Universal Studios to create challenging film in addition to more commercial film? How do you personally consume film – do you watch indie film on Vimeo for example? Or perhaps stream films on Netflix? Do you attend art house or multiplex cinemas?

Further reading: