A Small Intro to Films and Script Structures.
ANCIENT GREECE – Script Narratives
There are many places to truly begin with the birth of filmmaking. But if you want to look at the principles that have built what we see today, we will start my quest in Ancient Greece. Greece! Home of the Olympics and of guys in long togas. Also revolutionary men such as Plato and Aristotle. What does this have to do with early cinema and theatrical structure you ask? Well it was Aristotle who gave us the structures we see in most Romantic comedies today. You know those long winded films guys? The ones where Hugh Grant or another heartthrob tries to chat up at girl and eventually run off into the sunset? Yep we have Aristotle’s 3 act structure to thank for all of that. His 3 Act Structure with in simple terms looks like this…
Equilibrium ——— Disequilibrium ———- Resolution.
Equilibrium: The start where everything is balanced in the story. Introduction and exposition of the main interests and rivals and catalysts.
Disequilibrium: where the balance is broken slightly and disharmony is caused between the two love interests.
Resolution: The ending where either Equilibrium is restored, or the disequilibrium is continued in a way that the characters or the world around them is never going to be the same again.
So there we have it. The birth of the narratives we just go along with today were created and formed in Ancient Greek plays. This is a long way off from the Odeon cinema experiences we see today but we have to start somewhere. Aristotle also used “Catharis” which means to take understanding and knowledge from other peoples stories and experiences. Basically when you see Hugh grant in that romantic comedy you are meant to learn about the balance and struggles for equilibrium between him and other characters. For Film reference to films that use this kind of system look into the Rom Com genre with films such as P.S I Love You and Love Actually.
ANCIENT GREECE Reference Materials
<——— Love Actually
_______ A Detailed Blog giving in depth detail of the 3 Act Structure.
19th Century – Mr. William Shakespeare
We couldn’t dip our toes into theatre and early narrative structures without mentioning an Englishman who took them to the next level. Enter Mr. William Shakespeare. A man who took the idea of tragedy and comedy from Aristotle’s humble beginnings with 3 Act structure and story arcs and updated it with his own work. Famous for his tragedies and somewhat warped romance use, Plays like Romeo and Juliet and Midsummer Nights dream do follow that same old dated structure. Take Romeo and Juliet for example and break it down…
Romeo and Juilet are seen showing interest in each other despite their families feuding.
The families feud and Tybalt is in some ways a catalyst stopping their love from blossoming. He is completely against Romeo and the triggers include the fight they have. Mercutio in some ways could be seen as the straight man in this with his standing by Romeo till the end.
Okay Shakespeare… Not exactly the happy Love Actually ending but resolution nonetheless because the two families are effected by the outcomes. This changes the world from the one we started with so the disequilibrium has been balanced out.
Before we say a fond farewell to the 19th Century and the 1800’s there was one other MASSIVE change. The invention of film and moving image. As someone who is truly fascinated with the way scripting and media has changed over the years, it is fair to assume that I have really enjoyed the little time tunnel journey up to here. But with the invention of film and cinema people had a whole new experience awaiting them in the 20Th Century.
20th Century – Film
The birth of film at the turn of the 20th century was perceived in a lot of different ways around the world. Early silent films were used as comedy, Propaganda tools and just general forms of communicating information. As an example film began on the good old fashion film reels where they were drawn on. Much like stop motion and old cartoons. Cinema itself was seen as that family pass time and early 20th Century revelled In this new experience. France was really pioneering the film industry in its infancy by mixing music and art with the black and white images. With men like Georges Méliès creating films like Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip To The Moon) in 1902 we were starting to see this upsurge in early cinema. Other French visionaries like the Lumiere Brothers were also pioneering the early cinema in the the late 1800’s and into the turn of the 20th Century.
Side Note: 1914 – 1918 (World War 1)
A time in history that needs no real introduction was the outbreak of WW1. With film being about 30 years old now it was starting to be used in propaganda efforts and ways to communicate with the general public while the men went off to fight. In short, film was used as a tool and a weapon to keep the masses in check.
The 1920’s brought a time of great sorrow for the American people with the Great Depression but however a genre that was taking off in cinema was the Horror genre. The good old Hollywood Horror film classics like Frankenstein had already begun in 1910 but the newest on the scene was the introduction of Nosferatu (1922) which gave audiences fear and dragged them away from the social tragedies before them. The suspension of disbelief was a form of interaction for the audience which showed them how to leave all their problems in the world at the door. Cinema was a tool used in consumerism and helped to boost economic growth during these sad times. With technology advancing all the time it meant that films limitations seemed unstoppable. This continued in a few more stages such as Technicolor and the first signs of the 3D viewing craze.
1950 Film Meets Television
As the little subtitle says in 1950 Society gave birth to Cinema’s little brother. Television. It was almost like a sibling rivalry as well as cinema’s experience was being replaced in the comfort of everyone’s own living rooms. As television developed, it was predicted that cinema would be extinct and taken over by people just simply watching things from the comfort of their own homes. Cinema offered its widescreen experience which television in the early stages couldn’t compete with. The invention of widescreen settings on T.V started to let people use that and surround sound in the 90’s to create this “Home Cinema” package. Now in my opinion films like Star Wars and other MASSIVE blockbuster success stories are a must see on the big screen but just to be sure Cinema won on the size front, there was IMAX. Here is how the dimensions were looking to make it easier for everyone to understand.
TELEVISION – 4:3
CINEMA – 1:85:1
IMAX – 16:22
The television networks are getting bad press at the moment particularly the BBC which gives people less belief in T.V as a whole institution. With legal implications and allegations against them, BBC have had to rethink the way they regulate all broadcasting and to stop the mistakes of the last year or so happening again. Stories being leaked out and scandals within the hierarchy of British television have also called for higher censorships in both the managing of the network and of course the usual BBFC regulations. T.V has found itself locked in a battle against scandal and allegations that may give cinema the slight edge in the world as we know it today. Television is suffering heavily with seeds of distrust growing in the general public today.
This was a short introduction to the workings of script narrative (How genre’s and conventions of films are formed) and the small 20th century beginnings of Film and Television. They have continued their sibling rivalry to this very day and with introductions of Betamax, VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray and other things it would seem as though Television is vastly catching up to mimicking the cinema experience we enjoy. For now however that is the end to this Introduction blog and I hope the information was useful.