The method of storytelling in the film

As a fan of the film, I’ve been thinking a very simple question, what is a good film? What is the curial standard? What makes a movie success? There are a lot of things that people concern in a film, color, music, photography, acting, editing, and special effects. However, there is only one thing will attract my attention every time, which is the story. I believe that it is impossible for a director to create an incredible film without a fantastic story. The relationship between story and film is like that of seed and plant, the job for the filmmakers is that make the seed become a flower or a tree. Brian(2004, para. 1) points out that’ Film has developed out of a narrative and dramatic tradition in which the art of storytelling is a central concern’. Even if people can meet some films which have no story to tell, but for the majority of the audience, storytelling is always an essential thing for them to understand a film.

Then, what is a story? Philip(2011, para.4) says that’ So, a story goes somewhere. It follows, with purpose, one or more characters through a series of events. By the end, it arrives at a target destination, fulfilling its reason for having been told’. Brian(2004, para.3) states that’ A story entertains by posing a question and finding complicating and surprising ways of holding back the answer: plotting, ellipsis, parallel action, multiple perspectives – are all designed to keep us in suspense’. It sounds like that there is a common rule for telling a story. However, what makes a story different?

Personally, I think that the answer is the method of storytelling.

I spent some time to review the list which records the film that I’ve watched, and I found that there are six popular methods can be used to tell a story in the film.

Here is my conclusion.

1. Tell a story about growth
Showing growth is a classic method in the film. In these films, the protagonist needs to leave his/her home and family, setting foot on a dangerous journey. The propose of this journey is about finding, exploration, change or revenge. At the end of the story, the life of protagonist will be different from the beginning. The examples of this method are The Lion King(1994), The Pursuit of Happyness(2006), Kung Fu Panda(2008), and The Croods(2013).

(The Lion King n.d.)

2.Tell a story about a challenge.

This method is similar to the former, but the different thing is that the challenge will be set up at the beginning of the story. Therefore, the whole film shows the process how the protagonist overcome the problem. Life of Pi(2012), Gravity(2013), Interstellar(2014) and The Martian(2015) are examples for this.

51fCPsx-G4L._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_3.Show the confrontation
This method emphasises the confrontation of two different people or two groups, showing their conflict and competition. Usually, the “superhero” films are the representation of this, such as Avatar(2009), The Avengers(2012), and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice(2016).

This method is popular in the romantic story. The story shows how a man and a woman become friends from the stranger and fall in love with each other. When Harry Met Sally(1989), Notting Hill(1999) and La La Land(2017) are the classic examples for this.

(La La Land n.d.)

This method is suitable for the biographical or the historical story. It shows a person’s whole life or a country’s old years. Once Upon a Time in America(1984), Forrest Gump(1994) and Boyhood(2014) are all this kind film.

6.Making a mystery
This method might be the most popular one for storytelling. The audience will experience the same thing with protagonists, they both don’t understand what is happening and try to find the answer to the mystery. Se7en(1995), The Bourne Identity(2002), Shutter Island(2010) all belong to this type.

Of course, a lot of films not just use one method above. I believe that a good filmmaker must be a good storyteller, they know how to tell one simple story with a dramatical way.

Reference list:

Brian, D n.d, ‘Storytelling and Film Fairy Tales, Myth and Happy Endings’, P.O.V., 18 December 2004, viewed 18 March 2017,<>.

Ffion, L 2014, ‘8 Classic storytelling techniques for engaging presentations’, SPARKOL, viewed 18 March 2017, <>.

La La Land, n.d. photograph, viewed 18 March 2017, <>.

Philip,M 2011, ‘What Is a Story?’, Jane Friedman, blog post, 27 September 2011, viewed 18 March 2017, <>.

The Lion King, n.d. photograph, viewed 18 March 2017, <>.

The Bourne Identity n.d.photograph, viewed 18 March 2017, <>.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.


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