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Emma SuttonCritical Responses to Media Products
The audience responds to a media product in many ways, the approaches can be the way they analyse the: Genre Narrative Semiotics Representation In this article I will be looking at these four areas when analysing Leon, The Professional, Pulp Fiction and Tangled.
Narrative There are 3 theories that make up narrative. Todorov, Strauss and Propp. I will be using these theories in Quentin Tarantinos Pulp Fiction.TzvetanTodorovs theory is that the story follows these 5 stages of narrative. Exposition Inciting Incident Rising Action Climax Denouement The narrative doesnt have to follow that order but they all include these stages.
Vladimir Propp, a literary critic, studied fairy tales and suggested that they all follow a specific narrative structure. He discovered that there is a certain type of character to use in every narrative structure. The characters that are involved are: The Hero The Villain The Princess The Dispatcher The Helper The Donor The False Hero
The last theory is Strauss theory. Strauss studied myths and tribal cultures and examined how stories reflect the values. This is called Binary Opposition. Binary Opposition is the conflict between two qualities.
Leon: The Professional is a film created in 1995 by Luc Besson. The film is about a 12-year-old girl called Matilda (Natalie Portman) who teams up with a hitman named Leon (Jean Reno), who lives down the hall, to avenge her family after a corrupt DEA agent Stansfield (Gary Oldman).
The film follows a Linear Narrative and has the three act structure.
Act 1 is the Exposition/Inciting IncidentThe Exposition in Act 1 is setting up the film so it shows the location and introduces the characters. The setting for this film is New York, the characters are the Protagonist- Leon, the victim/ heroine is Matilda and the antagonist is Norman Stansfield. This shows it follows Propps Theory of Character types where they are the same.The Inciting Incident is the incident that sets the plot of the film. In Leon it is when Stansfield kills Matildas family.
Act 2 Rising ActionRising Action is the part in the plot where it has a series of incidents that create suspense and interest in the narrative. In the film Act 2 includes Leon training Matilda to be an assassin, He kills all of Stansfield men and Stansfield discovers where Leon and Matilda are living.
Act 3 Climax/ Falling Action/DnouementThe Climax in a film is the most intense point in a film in the development of a film. For Leon the climax is when Stansfield attacks the apartment. Falling Action is the part of the film that is after the climax. The Falling Action for Leon is when Leon kills both himself and Stansfield and Matilda escapes to the safety of the school and is protected by Tony.Dnouement is the final part of the film where everything is explained or resolved. In Leon the Dnouement is when Matilda plants the plant into the ground to represent a new life.
The genre of Leon: The Professional is an Action-Thriller. I am going to use Laceys Repertoire of Elements to show how the audience know the genre.
Setting- The setting is New York which is a metropolitan city. Action Thrillers are set in metropolitan cities because they are very big and busy which makes it more lively than calm like in the countryside. We can tell it is New York as it shows iconic buildings like The Empire State Building and the Twin Towers. It also shows New Yorks yellow taxis.
Character- Like all films they have a Protagonist, Antagonist and a heroin/victim. For Action the Protagonist is Leon who is a Hitman. The heroin/victim Matilda a 12-year-old girl who lives across from Leon. The antagonist is Norman Stansfield. These characters are not like the action movie tropes; the main protagonist is normally a handsome, powerful man but in Leon: The Professional the main isnt handsome but is powerful. In this film however the heroin is a 12-year-old girl. This breaks gender representation as the females in an action thrillers are seen as a sexy, and the main love interest to the main protagonist but because she is 12 she breaks the stereotypes because she is only a child. The antagonist in this film is a corrupt police officer. Its ironic because police are seen as the good guys and people who protect but they are the bad guys.
Iconography- Its set in a run-down area of New York known as Little Italy where there is a lot of gangsters live. This means there would be a use of guns and drugs involved. Guns are used in an action film as they are used during fights. Drugs are used in action films as they are used amongst gangsters and are the main causes of violence as people get into trouble when they use them.
Style-The film starts with an establishing shot of the location where its set. During the shot it plays calming music to create a mystery. It then cuts to an extreme close up of glasses and remains in extreme close ups to keep hold of the mystery. The music changes every time it introduces a new character. For Leon there is no music played when he is introduced to keep the mystery remaining about who the character is. Is he a bad guy or a good guy? When Matilda is introduced they play a calm, gentle tune to show she is a good guy but also the victim of the story. She is sat behind a railing to show that she feels imprisoned behind bars and cant escape from her life. When the antagonist is introduced the music changes to a deeper, scarier tune. It shows the back of his head to remain the mystery of who this character is because all the audience know is that he is the bad guy. At the beginning when Leon is working on his job there is a scene when he holds up a knife to a mans neck. In that scene one half of the man is black where Leon is holding a knife and there is a light on the other half where he is holding the phone. Darkness means death and light means life so it shows that one thing could kill him and one thing can save his life. There is also the use of the colours yellow and green and when put together they can make a sickly looking colour. This is the colour of the drug Stansfield takes before he kills everyone. During the scene in the bathroom the colours are yellow/green to represent Stansfields mind by saying he is ill minded when he plans to shoot Matilda.
Directed by Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction (released in 1994) follows non-linear narrative structure following 4 interrelated stories about a prize-fighter named Butch (Bruce Willis), young lovers, Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) and Pumpkin (Tim Roth), two career criminals Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules (Samuel L. Jackson).
Although the story is in a Non-Linear Narrative it still follows Todorovs theory of the 5 stages of Narrative. If it followed in a linear Narrative this is how the film would look.
Exposition: In Pulp Fiction the exposition is when Butchs father gives him the watch many years ago. It then goes to the present day with Vincent and Jules doing their job shooting crooks that are late with their payments to their boss.
Inciting Incident: For the Inciting Incident it is when Vincent accidentally shoots Marvin in the head getting blood all over the inside of the car. They then have to go to Jimmys house so they dont get caught. While at Jimmys house they phone their boss to tell him what happened and he sends his cleaner Wolf to sort out the mess.
Rising Action: After leaving Jimmys, Vincent and Jules go to a diner that then gets armed robbed by the young couple Pumpkin and Honey Bunny. Jules gives all his money to the couple and tells them to leave the diner. Vincent is then given the task to look after his boss Marcellus, wife Mia. While he is babysitting her they go to a 1950s themed restaurant called Jack Rabbit Slims. There they have some food and join a dance competition. When they return home, Mia has a drug overdose and Vincent goes to Lances house where he then gives her an adrenaline shot to the heart.
Climax: After double crossing Marcellus by winning the fight, Butch has to now lay low by living in a motel with his girlfriend Fabienne. He discovers that she hasnt packed his fathers watch so he then returns to his apartment to retrieve it. During his time at the apartment he discovers a gun on the kitchen counter. He then hears a toilet flush and Vincent exits the bathroom only for Butch to shoot him. On his way back to the motel he is stopped at a traffic light where he is seen by Marcellus. He hits Marcellus with his car and he is then chased to a pawnshop. The owner captures both of them and ties them in the basement. They are then joined by a security guard named Zed and a man in a bondage suit named the gimp. Zed then rapes Marcellus in another room leaving Butch with the gimp. Butch escapes but then just before he leaves he returns to help Marcellus, by killing Maynard and leaving Marcellus to deal with Zed.
Denouement: Marcellus says to Butch they are even as long as he leaves the city and never returns and to never mention anything about the rape. Butch leaves the shop on Zeds chopper returns to the motel to pick up Fabienne and leaves Los Angles together.
PostmodernismPostmodernism is a movement in art and philosophy and social science where society is no longer governed by history and progress. Instead it is highly independent on past work before WWII.
Intertextuality references to other forms or genres.
One technique that is used in Postmodernism is a Pastiche. A Pastiche is an imitation of another work, artist or period.
In this scene there is Intertextuality with the film The Seven Year Itch (Billy Wilder 1955).Quentin Tarantino made a pastiche where the actress is recreating the iconic scene with the actress Marilyn Monroe.