Archive for Essay's

Gender Roles

FIGHT CLUB

Task: Discuss how Fight club presents gender

Plan:

  1. Introduction
  2. Men more feminine, female more masculine in today’s society
  3. Presentation of jack an Tyler as oppositions
  4. Importance of self-help groups
  5. Presentation of Marla
  6. Conclusion

 

Fight Club was released in 1999 and immediately became a major success. The film shows a man’s search for his lost identity in the form of manhood. Fight Club presents the idea that women’s empowered position in the society has caused men to create a more female behaviour. The film also creates a focus on how the consumer lifestyle and fulfilling social expectations might not be the key to happiness.

In today’s society the gender roles are shifting. Women’s position and status in the society has greatly improved over the last decades and caused a problem according to the plot in Fight Club. Fight Club presents the idea that women’s new position has caused the male gender to become for feminine and therefore weaker in the characters eyes. They have lost their primary nature and with it their identity. Realizing this, the main character, Jack (named by fans for convenience), starts his journey to recreate the dominant ideology of men. The character of Jack represents the new generation of men. He states the problem as “a generation of men raised by women.” By this statement he means that young boys lack male role models in their lives as a result of women’s empowered position. The modern woman does not need a man as a protector and financial provider; something that has made the modern man confused about their function in the new society. Another result of women’s new found power is higher divorce rates. When women no longer need men they do not have to stay unhappily married. In a divorce it is most common for mothers to get custody of the child. This is only reasonable since the child carries the strongest link to its mother biologically. Divorces cause a lack of male role models in young boy’s lives, and so the new generation of men is raised by women, and become more feminine.

Jack and Tyler are two binary oppositions created to represent two opposite pictures of masculinity. Jack is symbolising every repressed, drowned and alienated man. He has grown up to meet all the expectations of the society: he has a beautiful apartment and a good job. In most peoples eyes he would be looked at as successful. All this focus on material wealth has caused him to loose his own identity. He felt that his possessions owned him and not the other way around. This is the reason for him to blow up his flat something that is a hugely masculine gesture. Tyler is the opposite of jack. He is strong-headed, masculine, sexual and animalistic. Tyler has no focus on material wealth what so ever. He fulfils his primary needs by living in an abandoned house and working to fulfil needs like food and clothing. Tyler is what Jack looks at as the perfect man. Tyler is a fighter while jack is the female man who originally would do anything to avoid a fight. Jack talks with words while Tyler talks with his fist. This becomes very clear in the end when Tyler beats Jack up while he tries to talk some sense into him.

In the film self-help groups are of big importance. Jack represents a generation of men who are having trouble finding themselves. They turn to self-help groups to reconnect with their inner self. In Jack’s case he is having trouble sleeping because of his lack of identity. This is how he turns to self-help groups. The fact that the self-help group Jack turns to is for men that have lost their “manhood” (meaning testicles) is by no coincidence. Even though he has not lost his testicles he still feels like he is missing his basic instincts of being a man. He feels tied down by the society and turns to the self-help group to find peace. It is not before he is forced to cry that he is able to sleep again. He finds peace by being female. After meeting Tyler, Jack has no longer need for the self-help group. He now finds peace by fighting. This leads him back to the basic nature of being a man and not feminine and weak. He no longer feels tied down by the expectations of the society and starts living his life without any rules. Also the lack of material things is making him happier. This is a sign that money can’t always buy you happiness.  

Marla is the only female character in the film and is meant to symbolize all women of the society. She is used as an example of how the fast moving society with a consumer lifestyle influences its inhabitants. Fight Club gives the idea that the constant focus on materialistic and financial wealth takes all the focus of the inhabitants and makes them loose their basic emotions along the way. This is why Marla goes to self-help groups. Just like Jack, she is trying to reconnect with her basic emotions. Her clothes and make-up show her lack of status and the audience makes her out to be of the lower class, which turns out to be true. Marla is presented in a very sexual way. The way she talks and the way she carries herself all radiate sexuality. Her sexuality is overrated since she’s only a woman but not particularly feminine. Marla’s presence in the plot shows that she is the source of all problems for the narrator. Before she interrupted his self-help groups everything was going better for him. Her interruption caused him to find another stress reliever and so he ran into Tyler. This is related to the idea that women are the cause of men’s trouble. Without women men wouldn’t be so confused.

Fight Club presents the idea that women’s empowered position and status has influenced men to become more female as they are becoming more masculine and dominant. The fact that women are now independent are causing men to become confused and wondering about where they belong in the society. The two characters of Tyler and Jack are binary oppositions representing two different types of men: the more female and the masculine one. It is not before Jack reconnects with his basic instincts of being a man that he finds peace. The character of Marla symbolizes every woman even though she is not feminine. She is a woman and therefore presented in a very sexual way. Her presence show that she is the source of all the narrators problems enforcing the idea that women are the reason for men’s present problems.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpretations_of_Fight_Club

Words: 1 102

Mise-en-scene: Fight Club

For my essay about mis-en-scene I chose to write about the first scene in the film Fight Club. Mis-en-scene means in short terms what you see in a scene.

Fight Club was released in 1999 and became a major hit. Over the years the film has become legendary and is therefore known to the majority of people in England.

The first scene in fight club shows that Fight Club is an expressionist film. The producer has concentrated on light and dark as contrasts and the creation of shadows. This together with the unconventional film angel creates a dramatic perspective which draws the audience’s attention.  In the first scene we are introduced to Tyler and the narrator whose name is not revealed. We are told about a special connection between the two characters. This triggers the audience’s interest. The background of the obvious mess is also revealed and so the scene ends.

The setting of the scene is sited in a large building with big glass windows viewing a city. The setting gives us a hint of the placement of the story. The style and surroundings tell us that we are in one of the big American cities. This turns out to be right later in the film.

The characters costumes are simple dark clothes. This reflects the setting and the feeling as well as the characters personality. The costume and make-up tell of a violent community and rawness. It is obvious that their lives have not been easy. By looking at their clothes one can conclude that they are not born in the upper-classes but closer to the streets.  The way the narrator behaves when put in this spot tells the audience that he is used to violence and being threatened. His calm act shows that he does no fear death because he has practise with near death experiences. The costumes together with the building tell us the time the film is set in today’s society.

The first scene of Fight Club starts out slow so that the audience understand everything. This is done to make sure the audience will understand the context of what is said since this will have a big influence on the viewer’s understaning. This clear and slow movements and expressions are broken when the narrator shows us the van containing explosives. The narrator takes the audience flying down the building, under the ground and into the parking house where the explosives are hidden in a van. After this we return to the building where the movement slows down again before the audience ”fall” into the next scene.

The light is very dim and is the only light lightening up the empty room. This light comes from the big windows of the big building the setting is set in. The light lightens the narrators face and shows his bruised face. The intensity of the lighting shows the dark mood and tell the audience that something serious is going on. The lack of light creates dramatic shadows and excitement to what is to come. The dim light and dark colours tell the genre of the film which is action. It is obvious to the audience that this is not a romantic comedy but a dramatic action film. This way they know what to expect.

The colours in the first scene are dark and misty with a focus on grey and black. The colours represent the setting and the genre of the film. The colours make the scene dramatic and exciting and this triggers the audience’s attention.

Fight Club is an expressionist film released in 1999. The movie has a dramatic perspective and is in a large building. The style and surroundings show the audience that the film is set in one of the big American cities. The costume and make-up reflect the characters personalities as well as it tell of the violence that is to come later in the film. The lighting is weak and creates the intense mood of the scene. Together with the dark, grey colours and the shadows the audience understand that Fight Club is an action movie of the brutal kind.

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Pulp Fiction Narrative

Pulp Fiction is a crime film released in 1994 by film maker Quentin Tarantino. The film has a non-linear narrative with multi strand narratives. When released Tarantino influenced a tremendous growth in non-linear films.

 

A non-linear narrative, also called a disrupted narrative, is a narrative technique used in film. The non-linear narrative challenges the conventional rules of a chronological construction of the plot and is presented out of chronological order. In pulp Fiction Tarantino use the non-linear narrative to unravel a complicated event and present the events from the perspective of the different characters. The use of the non-linear narrative was for dramatic purposes. The controversial way of telling the story make the film more compelling to the audience, than if the scenes were progressed in chronological order. This unconventional way of presenting events challenge the viewer’s memory in the way that they can only understand the plot by making cause-and-effect connections between the scenes. This draws in the audience and makes the film more interesting and exciting. The plot in Pulp Fiction twists and the movie’s non-linear structure puts the emphasis on the characters as a strategy to describe that their personalities is free of the limitations.

Pulp Fiction structures around three interrelated storylines: Vincent Vega, Butch Coolidge and Jules Winnfield. Vincent Vega is the lead of the first story and is a hit man for Marcellus Wallace. The narrative is the prizefighter Butch Coolidge, and the third story has Vincent’s partner Jules Winnfield in the lead. Each story focuses on a different series of incidents but they are all connected together through Marcellus.

There are seven narrative sequences in Pulp Fiction. The three primary storylines are preceded by identifying intertitles on a black screen.

  1. The film starts in a diner together with Pumpkin and Honey Bunny. They decide to rob it after realizing they could make money off not just the business but the customers as well.
  2. The next narrative sequence is prelude to Vincent Vega and Marcellus Wallace’s wife, Mia. Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega drives in a car to collect a briefcase belonging to their boss Marcellus Wallace. The audience is told how Marcellus has asked Vincent to escort his wife while he’s out of town. Than the screen goes black.
  3. Vincent drops by the house of Lance and Jody to buy some heroin. He than drives over to meet Mrs. Mia Wallace and takes her out. When dropping Mia off at home she finds his stash of heroin in his coat pocket. She mistakes it for cocaine and takes an overdose. Together with Lance Vincent manages to save her life by administer an adrenaline shot to her heart.
  4.  
    1. The next narrative sequence is a prelude to the gold watch where we get a scene viewing a flashback to Butch’s childhood. We meet Butch as a child when he gets a visit of Vietnam veteran Captain Koons. Koons has brought a gold watch from his dead father whose dying request was that Koons deliver the watch to Butch.
    2. Then a bell rings and we are in the present. It is time for the fight he has been paid to loose. Butch flees the arena when winning and get away in a taxi driven by Esmerelda. He gets dropped of at a motel where his girlfriend, Fabienne, is lying low. Butch discovers that she has forgotten to pack the golden watch and returns to his apartment to retrieve it. At the apartment he notices a machine gun and manages to kill Vincent with it.
  5. Butch drives away but while waiting at a traffic light, Marcellus walks by. When recognized Butch drives Marcellus with the car but were not able to escape. The two men have a foot chase and in a shop. The shopowner captures them both and call for policeman Zed. They take Marcellus to another room to rape him. Butch breaks loose and saves Marcellus and he is left of the hook. He comes from it with his life and may never return to LA.  
  6. The next narrative sequence is “The Bonnie Situation” where Vincent manages to shoot Bonnie in the head while driving in the car. They therefore stop by Jimmy’s house in need for shelter. This is when Winston Wolf comes in the picture. With his help they are able to clean up the mess before Jimmy’s wife returns home.  
  7. The last narrative sequence is in the diner where Jules is in the lead. Here he manages to go away from the robbery of Pumpkin and Honey Bonny with all his belongings except 1500 dollars.  

The different narrative sequences are mixed together in a controversial order. Chronological the seven sequences would be in this order: 4a (flashback gold watch), 2 (Vincent and Jules in the car), 6 (Bonnie situation), 1 (the diner with Pumpkin and Honey Bunny), 7 (the diner with Jules and Vincent), 3 (Vincent and Mia), 4b (Butch fleeing the arena), 5 (Butch killing Vincent and saving Marcellus).

The non-linear narrative makes it difficult for the audience to identify the characters with Propps theory about the eight characters. These are: the hero, the villain, the donor, the dispatcher (who sends the hero on his way), the false hero, the helper, the princess and her father (the man who rewards the hero). In Pulp Fiction Butch is the hero. He saves Marcellus from being raped further and do only kill people to save his own life. The villain in the story is Marcellus. He was the fountain for all the characters misshapenness. Whiteout him they would never have met and ended up in the mess they did. The princess was clearly Mia. She was the one needed saving and to be taken care of. Jimmy was the donor since he opened his house even though he may have been caught by his wife. This was how Winston Wolf came into the picture. He was the helper who got Jimmyy, Vincent and Jules out off the big mess they where in. The story also has a dispatcher. The dispatcher in Pulp Fiction was Butch’s girlfriend, Fabienne. She is the one who sends him away to get the watch after she forgot it. He risked his life because of her mistake. The false hero was Vincent. He seemed like the hero because of the way he saved Mia’s life. Vincent killed on command in matters that did not influence him and without him Mia would never had taken the drug. The father in the film is Wallace. He is the one who rewards the hero Butch after saving his life.

Pulp Fiction is one of the most successful movies containing a non-linear narrative. Its controversial ways made it famous and Quentin Tarantino’s film became a big influence in the growth of non-linear movies. The controversial way of telling the plot compels to the audience and challenges them to make cause-and-effect connections between the scenes. Pulp Fiction has three interrelated storylines and seven narrative sequences which in chronological order would go: 4a, 2, 6, 1, 7, 3, 4b and 5. The different narrative sequences are mixed together in this controversial order to create drama. This way of presenting the events make the film interesting and exciting and by looking at the feedback and the way this movie has become a classic one it is clear that Quentin Tarantino’s non-linear structure was more than successful.

Narrative theories

You must apply this narrative to a film you know well and then argue to what extent you feel this narrative theory can be applied. You may want to apply two theories.
You should start with some background information to the theory and explain the main ideas. You should then discuss to what extent your chosen film can be analysed using a narrative theory.

 

A narrative in media terms is the organisation to a series of facts. Narrative can be defined as “a chain of events in cause-effect relationship occurring in time and space.” Humans need the narrative to make sense of things. Based on these connections humans make interpretations and connect events. In everything we seek a beginning, middle and an end.  Narrative theory, or narratology, is the study of narrative. Both Tzevtan Todorov and Vladimir Propp were philosophers on this subject and discovered a repeated structure in narrative.

Tzvetan Todorov is the one who proposed a basic structure for all narratives. He claimed that the characters or the situations are transformed through the process of disruption. He divided the transformation into five stages. According Todorov films and programmes begin with equilibrium, a calm period where all is as it should be. Then there comes a disruption of that order due to an action or a conflict, disequilibrium. This is the period of unsettlement and disquiet. This is followed by a recognition that the disorder has occurred. The next stage is an attempt to repair the damage caused by the disruption. After this the state of peace and harmony is renewed. This new equilibrium brings the chaos to an end and the conflict is solved. These stages are presented in the picture below.

By looking at the movie twilight one can defend Todorovs theory. This movie starts in a state of equilibrium; everything is as it should be. Bella arrives in Forks and nothing out of the ordinary has happened, yet. She is just a normal teenager living with her father. This equilibrium is then interrupted by Edward Cullen who walks into the cafeteria.  Bella doesn’t notice the disruption before Edward saves her from being hit by a car. He pushes it away with his hand and Bella know there is something extraordinary and special about him. This is the action that causes the disequilibrium. The next stage in Todorov’s theory comes when Bella plays baseball with the Cullen’s. The game is interrupted by three vampires wanting to join in on the game. When they realise that Bella is no vampire they become obsessed with tracking her down and kill her. The Cullen’s are ready for war and try to repair the damage from letting Bella into their family. After Edward and the other Cullen’s have saved Bella’s life a new equilibrium is established and the peace is restored.

Vladimir Propp studied Russian fairytales and discovered that in these stories there were always 8 characters present. These are: the hero, the villain, the donor, the dispatcher (who sends the hero on his way), the false hero (usually good looking and a coward), the helper, the princess and her father (the king who rewards the hero). These characters needed not to be separate people. For example the donor could also be the father. Propp stated that there were only these 8 characters and only 31 things they do. When the characters are identified it is easy to guess what they will do. E.g. the hero will defeat the villain. Therefore one can say that each character has a sphere of action, character and action being inseparable. This is easily relatable to films and programmes today.

In Twilight Edward Cullen is the hero and the donor, Bella is the princess, Charlie is the father, James is the villain, the helper is Victoria and the dispatcher is Laurent. What the movie doesn’t contain is a false hero. Therefore the theory isn’t completely correct by looking at Twilight. At the same time the father doesn’t reward the hero; Edward Cullen. He’s actually angry and blames Edward for Bella running away and then getting hurt. Vladimir Propp’s theory fails in some aspect in this case.

Tzvetan Todorov and Vladimir Propp are two philosophers who both found a new way of looking at narrative in media texts. They both revealed a pattern bases on years of research. These patterns are correct in some cases but in other inaccurate. By using twilight as the example of a media text, Todorov’s theory seemed to be accurate. Propps theory on the other hand was not exactly correct but where valid in some aspects.

Sources

http://sismedia.wetpaint.com/page/Narrative+theory

http://asanda2mediastudies.blogspot.com/2007/11/todorovs-theory-of-narrative.html

http://www.scribd.com/doc/8332523/Narrative-theory-notes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrative