Perhaps no term is more central to film history, criticism, and theory than "narrative." Yet narrative is hardly specific to the cinema. Storytelling is a defining trait of human experience and communication. Much of the world's information has always been delivered in story form, whether recounted as personal experience, historical events, imagined fiction, or a mix of all three. Art, entertainment, and instruction have all relied on narrative structures regardless of their form or media, yet the cinema, appearing as it did in the late 1800s, quickly proved itself particularly adept at incorporating and adapting a wide variety of narrative strategies from literature, theater, photography, journalism, and even comic strips. From the beginning, telling stories clearly was a major concern for filmmakers. Almost as quickly, the cinema's ability to present intriguing stories was evaluated by critics and audiences alike. Thus, narrative has always been a key component in how we watch, think about, and write about the cinema, and the history of that narrative theory is a fascinating side of film studies.

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