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Types and Myths in Plots

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Good morning. So, we continue with our discussion of plot, and yesterday we had been talkingabout various levels of plot, we have also discussed a number of theoreticians relatedto the concept of plot. So, we will continue from there. I would like to draw your attentionto Roland Barthes, a very significant theorist,and his book ‘An introduction to the structural analysis of narratives’where and I quote Barthes, “narrative may incorporate articulatedlanguages, spoken or written, pictures, gestures. It is present in myth, legend, fable, short story,epic, history, tragedy, comedy, pantomime, painting cinema.The history of the narratives begins with the history of mankind”.Now, narrative may, this is what we have beentalking from the beginning of this lecture on narrative and plot; narrative could beverbal, written or visual. This is what Roland Barthes is trying to say, pictures tells usa story, gestures tells us story. Narrative is present in myth, legend, fable, short story.Even clothes tell you a narrative. People research on those things as well, so thereis no field where narrative is not present, everything tells a story.From there we will go on to seven kind of primary plots.So, we have already seen the theories of plot, definitions of plot, now let’s look at various, and wehave also seen levels of plot, we have also seen what Gerard Genette talks about plotand time; order, frequency, duration. We have also seen the narrator, who is the narrator;the unreliable narrator, the reliable narrator, the homo-diegetic, hetero- diegetic and intra-diegetic;so three levels of narration and voice-oversNow, here we talk about seven primary plots.Now you can look at these, some of the stills,we have Christopher Reeve, doing Superman on us and the plot is not Superman plotbut the kind of plot is Achilles'.Now, why Achilles'? Why Superman also Achilles here?The Achilles' plot. He has a weak spot. And what weak, weak spot is that?Student: Achilles’ heel is weak spot.And in Superman?Students: Krypton.Krypton is a weak spot; so, all-powerful heroes, indomitable,undefeatable.It also tells a story of overcoming all odds, but then protagonist has a weak spot.So, in Achilles it ends with the tragedy, and in most superheroes’ movies, you know wewant to see them winning; so we do not have but they do have a weak spot.Can you think of more examples from popular culture?The Achilles' plot, can you think of more examples?Student: In Spider-man how with Mary Jane Watson, he tries to stay away from her, becausehe feels that the super villains would use her against him, something.But that is the case even in Batman.So perhaps but not this, here it is actually a physical weak point; so supermanis a very good and very strong example.Perhaps Ironman, ironman could be seen as another good example, his heart is his weak point.We also have the Cinderella plot.You can think of the Julia Robert’s character in Pretty Womanand also Rocky Balboa, his narrative.So, stories of transformation and transformation usually for the better.The underdog rises against all odds, just like Cinderella, this is called Cinderella plot.Again these plots tell you, rags to riches story and invariably have fairy tale ending.Can you give me more examples, apart from Rocky and Pretty Woman?My Fair Lady, My Fair Lady is a Cinderella plot.Anything else in recent times?My left foot by Daniel Day Lewis, an Irish film forwhich he won the best Oscar award, again is the Cinderella story; rags to riches, theprotagonist rising and making it big against all odds.We have the Jason plot; the Jason plot is about quest.See all these are classic narrativesfrom which we take these names and apply to our film studies, so our readings of narratives.So, Jason plot means quest for a cause and this is something that we have seen in Joseph Campbell’s,the Hero with the Thousand Faces also. So, good examples would be Thelma and Louise,although it ends in a tragic way; both of them die at the end, but still itis a quest for something. So, they here they are on a quest for their identities.Lord of the Rings, again a classic example.John Waynes’ ‘The Searchers’ is another example where there is a quest.The hero is on a quest for something. It is a very ambiguouskind of a movie; whether he really wants what he has been searching for or whether he wantsto destroy it, but still there is the plot for, you know a quest. There are plot tracing the hero quest.And Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, again tracing or going back to Jason myth.So, I would suggest that you watch Taxi Driver, because this is the movie that wewill be discussing quite frequently. What does he search for, Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver?What is he looking for? What is the quest in Taxi Driver?A single man fighting, waging a war against the corrupt system,the immediate quest is to rescue a young girlcaught in the web of prostitution played by Jodie Foster.The Faust myth, the Faustian plot, who was Faust? Who was Faust? Doctor Faustus', a German legend;he made a plot with the devil in exchange for something, he will pledge his soul;after 24 years or so you have a complete control over my soul,you can do whatever you want to do with my soul.And here we have example in Wall Street, where a young Sheen almost pledgesaway his soul to; watch this movie we will be talking about. So, the story of temptation,a sinister kind of bargain and then protagonist faces a moral conflict; the Faustian plot.In a lighter way, ‘The Devil wears Prada’ is again you know you give a one year of your life to me;which magazine is that, Runway magazine, Runway magazine and the editor asplayed by Meryl Streep, Ann Hathaway, the young rooky and you give me one year of yourlife almost like pledging away your soul and I will give you, you know the doors of heaven,doors of unlimited success would be open for you.Al Pacino, playing the actual devil inDevil’s Advocates to Keanu Reeves advocate, the lawyer.Rosemary’s Baby is another example of Faust myth.Who is the director Srinath?Student: Polanski.Polanski. Watch the movie; it is a very ambiguous film,based on a novel by Ira Levin.So, you really are not sure that who is the Satan here,who is the devil here; whether is the husband or outer, or may be husbandhimself is one of the victims or representative of Satan, who knows, but a very strong example.The Orpheus myth, now the myth of Orpheus myth tells us that Orpheus attempted to rescuehis dead wife, Eurydice from the underworld. He took perilous journey to retrieve her andhe gets her back, but on one condition that while on the way out, he should not look at her;but he cannot resist the temptation, he turns around, looks at her and loses her, forever.So, the Orpheus myth tells you about or the theme tells you about loss.Inception is the very good example of the Orpheus myth. Memento again has elements of Orpheus myth.Watch Memento, we will be talking about the film quite often here.Romeo and Juliet myth; now need not necessarily end tragically, but boy meets girl, more hereis the very popular plot in many parts of the world. Love is requited, therefore wecall it Romeo and Juliet, not because they end up tragically but it is the story of thetheme of requited love. It may or may not have a tragic or happy ending, I mean it could work both ways.In Sleepless in Seattle, boy meets girl andthey end up together against all odds, so that is happy ending.Titanic, of course is the classic example of Romeo and Juliet plot.They take all the elements.From our own culture, I can think of Amir Khan’s first film, Qayamat se Qayamat tak, it is a totally, they takethe template of Romeo and Juliet and set it in contemporary times.Tristan and Isolde theme and that is also the title of a movie, I think, James Franco's.Love defeated, the idea is the love is defeated and unrequited, usually ends in a tragic endingat least for one of the partners. So, you have James Caan misery where he plays a successfulwriter and is kept in captivity by an obsessed fan;she would not let him go and is a horrifying tale.And then Tristan and Isolde theme in Fatal Attraction, Michael Douglas and Glen Close's,dangerously attracted towards someone married, Michael Douglas and then what happens.However, you must remember Romeo and Juliet depicts tragedy in pure and honest love,whereas the Irish legend delineates tragedy in guilty love.So, please do remember that these are two contrasting episodes.And so these are the seven primary plots.Any questions you would like to or any observations here?Student: Does the movie Shakespeare in Love fall into this category?Which category?Student: Tristan and Isolde because in the end;Love requited.Student: But it is a tragic ending in the sense since shealready has been pledged to marry off to other noble man.But already taken, yes combinesan element of Romeo and Juliet as well as Tristan and Isolde, not in out and out, butusually that is what is happening in contemporary times. They are not taking the classic template,but they are playing around with genre. So, one of these days, I am going to discuss filmgenres where the categories are very well maintained and then genre blending and genre bending.So, why is Shakespeare in love the way it is, because it is scripted by whom?Tom Stoppard, whose play Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoots’ Macbeth, we have already discussed.Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead, so Tom Stoppard is the dramatist who is veryfond of playing around with Shakespeare, therefore the kind of plot you get in Shakespeare in love.Well, Inception can be loosely categorizedas the science fiction movie. Do you not think so? It is a science fiction; it is the futuristic,dream within dream within dream, what is that. But then it can be categorized as myth you know,the plot is also based on a draws on the Orpheus myth.So, you cannot just be dismissiveof these plot categories, perhaps there is the blending of these categories but they are there.So, the template is there, it is what the screenwriter, the director, whenthey collaborate and what they do with the elements.And what’s Ghost? You remember Ghost, Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze; well I would callit requited love, lost love, Romeo and Juliet trajectory.Student: Are bildungsroman's movies are Cinderella plot or story perceived?Which movie?Student: Bildungsroman movies, are they all in Cinderella plot?Bildungsroman movies are all about coming of age.Lord of the rings is the Jason myth that is quest for something;the hero takes a physical journey, which isalso his spiritual journey, ends of in learning certain life lessons.So, there you can saythat this is a very good example of bildungsroman where hero actually learns about somethingand takes the journey, physical or spiritual. To actually say that all these plotsmust fix bildungsroman categories is stretching it too much.You tell me.Student: I do not think it fits in.Into any of these categories? Well it could be a case of genre blending then.Student: The Jason plot, it can be the quest for something very intangible also, identity.Absolutely, therefore I was thinking, therefore, we talked about Thelma and Louise.Thelma and Louise are not on a quest for some pot of gold orthe mysterious ring, powerful potent symbol of any power or wealth.What are they on?What is their quest all about?Identity.One day they just feel they have had it enoughwith very weak men in their life. So, they do not want to put up with that anymore, so they take off.It could also be a spiritual. So, we have to be very careful about it, themovie may not take you on a journey. So, it need not be a road movie, but it is the journey.‘Rain Man’, what kind of a plot would that be? It is the road movie, it is a buddy movie.But is there are plot somewhere?Well you do not have a brother plot anywhere,but it could be perhaps the blending of certain genres.Rain Man, actually is the very good example of genre blending.Student: It comes under that because how they go toVegas and they do all of that, and that sort of, it is kind of underdog story as well,the Rain Man if you want it to put it in one way.Rain Man, Yes.Jason Plot comes closest to the plot of Rain Man.Student: Horror or Zombie or Survival does not come in to any other things, right?Horror and zombie, I gave you the example of Rosemary’s Baby which is the Faustian bargain.So, that is a very good example.Now, think of all these zombie movies.What is happening here? Is there a bargain? However understated, whetherit is explicitly stated as in Rosemary’s Baby or implicitly there; perhaps it couldbe because all these horror movies, they take that templates from legends of the Great Satanand then you think Satan devil and Faust cannot be far away, so, perhaps it is goes.No, I said that there was the time when classic narrativecould be understood along these terms. So, these are the seven primary plots.Now the trend is that, that we defies the genres; so when you start defies genres, unless you are lookingat the very, out and out classically made movie like Lord of the Rings, we do not have a classic plot.So, classic plot does not exist anymore but what we are witnessing now is case of genre blending.Therefore, plots blend, the primary plots are also blendingitself and it has to whether we will have monotonous kinds of movie all around.Well, ‘Seven’ is also loosely Jason plot; there is a quest, there is a quest for something,there are life lesson learned at the end, about ourselves.What I would suggest is thatyou read narrative friction by Rimmon Kenan, Narrative friction: Contemporary Poetics.And Gerard Genette, we have been talking about Genette’s Narrative Discourse from the beginning.So, those are the two classics that I would like to talk and I would like you to consider.