Narrative Theorists - Teaser Trailer
A2 Media - Teaser Trailer - Narrative Theorists - Toderov, Levi-Strauss, Propp, Barthes, Binary Opposites
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Narrative Theorists - Teaser Trailer
Toderov’s Narrative Theory
His theory follows the idea that the narrative follows certain different
stages for the protagonist. There are five different stages:
1. A state of equilibrium.
3. Recognition of disequilibrium.
4. Resolution of the disequilibrium.
5. A new state of equilibrium.
For teaser trailers, this only partially works. This is because if the teaser
trailer gave away the new equilibrium at the end of the film, it would
therefore give away the ending of the film and spoil it, and so there
would be no point of going to see the film and the teaser trailer would
be unsuccessful. However, part of this narrative theory can be applied
to a teaser trailer. If the trailer shows the issue/disequilibrium to be
featured in the film and perhaps the attempt to find resolution, then
this will be more interesting to the audience, since they will be asking
questions about what may happen to the protagonist and whether or not
they will be able to resolve the disequilibrium.
Levi-Strauss theorised that film narratives need to contain opposite
themes that are alternated between in order to progress the
narrative. There are two main types of these:
Conceptual opposites (themes throughout the film, e.g. good/evil)
Physical opposites (physically seen in the film, e.g. light/dark)
Perhaps one of the most common examples of this in a film, is the
conventional character opposites of protagonist/antagonist, which
appears in many different forms in nearly every single film.
For teaser trailers, featuring these opposites works well for the
audience to gain a basic idea of the narrative that will feature in
the film, by showing the protagonist and the antagonist. This shows
the conflict that will feature, and will make the audience wonder
more about this conflict and therefore will make the teaser trailer
more successful by sparking this interest and making it more likely
for them to find out more about the film, and so the teaser trailer
will have fulfilled its purpose.
Barthes had a theory called the ‘Enigma Code’ and it said that media text contains
elements of mystery about them that makes the audience intrigued about it and it makes
them ask questions about the text so that they will find out more about the text. This
applies to other forms of media product other than film.
He also theorised about five different codes that were woven into any narrative:
The Hermeneutic (HER)
The Proairetic (ACT)
The Semantic (SEM)
The Symbolic (SYM)
The Cultural (REF)
The Hermeneutic is the one informally known as the ‘Enigma Code’, since it refers to any
element of the story that is not explained. This can easily be applied to teaser trailers,
since teaser trailers often exclude elements of the film’s story, in order to attract an
audience, so the audience can find out the answers to those questions when they watch the
The Proairetic code, or the ‘Action’ code, builds tension and suspense and refers to action
in the media product. This code can work in conjunction with the Hermeneutic code to
develop the tension and keep the audience interested. This would also work in a teaser
trailer, since showing certain parts of action from the film will keep the audience
interested, especially if it does work in conjunction with the Hermeneutic, since the action
featured might create more questions, making the audience more eager to find out what
happens. For instance, in an action scene featured in a teaser trailer, e.g. a fight/chase
scene, tension is built (ACT), however, we do not see what the outcome of the fight is, and
we do not know what happens to the protagonist, leaving an unanswered question and
developing some intriguing enigma (HER).
The Semantic code refers to deeper meanings (connotations)
behind certain elements. It would be more likely to see this sort of
thing in a whole movie, where certain elements have greater
meanings in the film, e.g. colour theory: a certain recurring colour
in a film may have a deeper meaning to it, which is the
connotation. However, it could perhaps be applied if a certain
element is prominent to the film and important to main narrative.
The Symbolic code is very similar to SEM. However, it elaborates,
and proposes the use of opposites to show contrast and deeper
meaning to develop the tension and characters. This is similar to
Levi-Strauss’s theory of ‘Binary Opposites’. This can be used in a
teaser trailer to show the audience the antagonist in the film and
the protagonist, giving the audience a basic idea of what journey
the protagonist will be facing to try and defeat the antagonist and
restore equilibrium, and so the audience will want to follow that
journey and find out what happens (linking back to the HER code).
The Cultural code: this refers to anything in the media text that
makes a reference to an external body, primarily cultural.
Barthes’s codes seem to have strong similarities with the
other theories aforementioned. They also relate a lot to
teaser trailers, so this may be worth considering when
creating our teaser trailer. This will help us make more
educated decisions when deciding on the elements that we
will show in our teaser trailer, and if some of these theories
(when applied to teaser trailers) should be followed or
contradicted to better fulfil the purpose of the teaser
trailer in advertising our film, to make it more successful.