There are many ways to think historically about narrative cinema. There is the history of storytelling itself, from presenting a train pulling into a station to the rise of the classical realist film, the modern art cinema, and the thousands of alternative individual filmmakers working to challenge the limits of mainstream narrative. But there is also the intricate history of how film criticism and theory have addressed the cinema. Strangely, within the debates over realism, artifice, personal expression, and cultural determinations, certain directors return over and over as examples. Two of the most important filmmakers, for a wide range of narrative critics, have been Alfred Hitchcock and Jean-Luc Godard. No other directors figure so prominently in narrative theory of the past fifty years. Hitchcock's masterful narration provides many of the most canonical scenes for analysis from any perspective, and Godard's work has systematically challenged both commercial narrative cinema norms and film criticism's vocabulary. The heart of narrative film is still the cinematic practice that makes defining story, narration, and the role of the spectator so fascinating. The history of narrative film remains forever inter-twined with the history of film production, film criticism, and the theorizing of the spectator, whose glorious task remains to perceive, decipher, and finally comprehend the stories generated by those still, two-dimensional images flashing upon the movie screen.

SEE ALSO Criticism ; Early Cinema ; Editing ; Ideology ; Realism ; Semiotics ; Structuralism and Poststructuralism

Aubert, Michelle, and Jean-Claude Seguin, Eds. La Production cinématographique de Frères Lumière . Lyon: Editions Mémoires de cinéma, 1986.

Aumont, Jacques et al. Aesthetics of Film . Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992. Translation by Richard Neupert of L'Esthétique du film (1983).

Barthes, Roland. Image, Music, Text . Translated by Stephen Heath. New York: Noonday, 1977.

——. S/Z . Translated by Richard Miller. New York: Hill and Wang, 1974.

Bellour, Raymond. The Analysis of Film , edited by Constance Penley. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000. Translation of L'Analyse du film (1979).

Bordwell, David. Narration in the Fiction Film . Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.

Bordwell, David, Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson. The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960 . New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.

Burch, Noël. Life to Those Shadows . Translation by Ben Brewster of La Lucarne de l'infini: Naissance du langage cinématographique (1991). Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.

Casetti, Francesco. Theories of Cinema: 1945–1995 . Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999. Translation by Francesca Chiostri et al. of Teorie del cinema: 1945–1990 (1993).

Fell, John. Film and the Narrative Tradition . Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.

Kawin, Bruce F. Mindscreen: Bergman, Godard, and First-Person Film . Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978.

Metz, Christian. Film Language: A Semiotics of the Cinema . New York: Oxford University Press, 1974. Translation by Mark Taylor of Essais sur la signification au cinéma (2 vols., 1968, 1973).

Neupert, Richard. The End: Narration and Closure in the Cinema . Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1995.

Rosen, Philip, ed. Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology: A Film Theory Reader . New York: Columbia University Press, 1986.

Stam, Robert. Film Theory: An Introduction . Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2000.

Richard Neupert

Other articles you might like:

Also read article about Narrative from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: