Chapter 4 Studyguide Fabula, Syuzyet and Style Fabula

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Chapter 4 Studyguide
Fabula, Syuzyet and Style
Fabula: embodies the action as a chronological, cause and effect chain of events

Putting the Fabula together

  • Crime: the investigation of a crime involves establishing certain connections among events

  • The fabula is a pattern that perceivers of narratives create through assumptions and inferences

  • The viewer builds the fabula on the basis of prototype schemata i.e. identifiable types of persons, actions, locales

  • A film’s fabula is not materially present on the screen or soundtrack


  • The films systematic use of story devices: canonical, genre, linear, non-linear


  • Consists of a particular pattern of events (actions, scenes, turning points, plot twists)

  • Manipulation of causal intervention

  • Dramaturgy of film: the organized set of cues prompting us to infer and assemble story information

  • The Syuzhet and style interact in the course of cueing and channeling the spectator’s construction of the fabula

  • Denotation and connotation “become fellow travelers in the story”

  • Denotation: the literal or primary meaning of a word, in contrast to the feelings or ideas that the word suggests.

  • Connotation: he associated or secondary meaning of a word or expression in addition to its explicit or primary meaning: A possible connotation of “home” is “a place of warmth, comfort, and affection.”.

  • Logical, temporal and spatial nature of syuzhet

  • Gaps are created by choosing to present certain pieces of fabula information and to hold back others

  • A detective story calls attention to its gaps , makes us fret over the lack of certain data

  • Omitted fabula information will become important later

  • Retardation cues spectator’s comprehension

  • Revelation of some (not all) information can arouse anticipation, curiosity, suspense, and surprise

  • In a crime story crucial murder evidence emerges piecemeal

  • The case can’t be solved too quickly

  • Resolution is suspended until conclusion

Transtextual motivation is a strong factor in determining a film’s narrational options. All films exploit disparities between fabula and syuzhet, but different genres do so in different ways
The Detective film (Serial) vs. The Melodrama (The Wire maybe)
Detective Film: Serial

  • Cause of Crime

  • Commission of Crime

  • Concealment of Crime

  • Discovery of Crime


  • Beginning of investigation

  • Phases of investigation

  • Eludication of crime

  • Identification of criminal

  • Consequences of identification

The detective film justifies its gaps and retardations (delayed story development)

  • Controls knowledge

  • Self consciousness

  • Communicativeness

  • The genre aims to create curiosity about past story events

  • Suspense about upcoming story events

  • Surprise with respect to unexpected disclosures about either story or syuzhet

  • We learn what the detective learns when he or she learns it

We are not allowed access to the detective’s inferences until he or she voices them

Unless the detective is baffled or turns out wrong
The activity of piecing together cause and effect in the crime fabula constitutes the central formal convention of the detective tale
Privileged access to his character and motives
Romance becomes another factor. The detective is attracted to the Femme Fatale even if he suspects them of deception, betrayal or even worse (Could be why listeners interpret Sarah as “in love” with Adnan.


  • Subverts everything to broad emotional impact

  • Pity, iron, and other dissociated emotions

  • Maximizes the viewer’s urge to know what will happen next—and, especially, how any given character will react to what has happened

The emotional expressiveness of the film issues partly from the narration’s tendency to be omni--communicative
To wring every emotional drop out of the fabula situations the narration employs omniscience
Various characters discover what viewers already know
Unrestricted knowledge:
Crosscutting different plotlines

Following several characters from one locale to another

Expand range of knowledge

Film can still manipulate knowledge in as complicated a fashion as detective stories

Syuzhet will inform us of initiation of a chain of action and then skip over some time or move to another line of action
Detective Film:

Presupposes stable but concealed emotional nexus (A hates and kills B, but pretends he did not hate or kill
The melodrama assumes violent and overt changes of emotional attitudes

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