Narrative Codes and Binary Opposites
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Narrarive codes
This French critic devised five different narrative codes that
we can use when analysing media products;
The audience will recognise an action code in a media text
as it is used to indicate what is the next logical step. It
advances the narrative e.g the buckling of a gun belt in a
western film signifies the start of a gun fight.
Mystery code or Enigma code:
This code is used to explain the narrative by controlling
what and how much information is given to the audience. It
grabs the audience’s interest and attention by setting up
enigma or problem that is resolved during the course of the
narrative e.g. someone's murderous hand in the opening
sequence-who does it belong to?...
The Semic code
This code is all about signs and meanings in a
text that tell us about its narrative and characters
e.g. in a horror film, the supernatural would be
signified by the fear of light/garlic and increase
in body hair etc.
The Cultural Code
This code is used in order for the narrative to
make sense to a culturally and socially aware
audience. It makes reference to elements from
the real world that the audience will recognise
e.g. Aston Martins and Martinis in James Bond
Code of Oppositions
This code refers to a narrative that relies on binary
opposites e.g. black vs white, hot vs cold, male vs
female, nature vs civilisation, war vs peace etc.
Strauss believed that the way we understood certain
words depends not so much on any meaning they
themselves directly contain but by our
understanding the difference of the word and its
opposite. He then produces the theory of Binary
This helped an audience to establish bad and good
characters within a film.
Binary opposites are frequently used in films, especially in
the horror genre, many of the films include binary
oppositions in their plots. The understanding of the word
‘villain’ depends on the difference between that word and
the opposing word ‘hero’. Good and evil are the most
common binary opposite shown to the public through the
media field on different platforms, sane and insane,
rational and irrational and human and supernatural are
also common binary opposites known to the public.
I think within our thriller film, we will use Strauss’
theory due to the fact we aim to show the opposites of
human and supernatural with Bertie being possessed
by the devil and trying to fight it and hero vs villain
which are both Bertie as Bertie in his human form
know what he’s doing it wrong and tries to put a stop to
his actions (hero) however the devil side to him being
the villain keeps trying to kill and possess others.