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SCHOOL OF LETTERS

STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS OF THE NARRATIVE PATTERN OF THE MOVIE 500 DAYS OF SUMMER

Based on the essay introduction to the structural analysis of narratives by Roland Barthes
RAHUL RAJAN 3/1/2011

Motivation factor in the thread

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Motivation factor in the thread

Roland

Barthes declares in the very first sentence of his essay Introduction to the

structural analysis of narratives that the narratives of the world are numberless . But in movies we can trace the three act narrative structure very clearly in a well defined linear narration whereas in a non -linear, it is hard to extract a clear cut three act narrative pattern. Here in this movie we see an absolutely spliced up narrative. From the name itself it is clear that it narrates the story which happened in 500 days. According to Barthes faced with the infinity of narratives, the multiplicity of stand points - historical, psychological, sociological, ethnological, aesthetic etc. - from which they can be studied . It clearly opens the multidimensional aspect of viewing or analyzing a structural narrative. The aesthetics of every script is based on the motivation factor, which guides both the viewer, to watch the movie till the end in the real world and the protago nist to go forward in the reel world. 500 Days of Summer is presented in a non-linear format, each scene being introduced by the number of day in the 500 days (488, 240, 1 etc) . The plot has been rearranged in a chronological order which searchs for the reason that made Summer to jilt her lover Tom, who is our hero. the film opens with day 488, the scene where Tom and Summer are seated at a bench and the audience sees Summer's ringed finger as the two hold hands. The very close-up of both of their hands together with the voice over narration which goes along with the shot creates the false notion that they are engaged. The scene then jumps to the 1st day of 500 day sequence, where the narrator introduces the char acters in detail and also a brief sneak into their childhood where we see the major events that moulded the characters of Summer Finn and Tom Hansen. The language of Narrative: The medium cinema has its own method of communicating. It is the shots that communicates or narrates here. According to the linguist Martinet the sentence is the smallest segment that is perfectly and wholly representative of discourse . In visual medium shots take the place of sentence and hence a shot or a combination of shots is the smalle st segment in the language of cinema, which has the ability to deliver a lead at the semantic level, into the continuing narration of the film. Shots and levels of meaning In cinema a shot radiates meaning on multiple levels. Meaning is read at integrated levels in movies. It can be active and passive. The shot, the dialogue and action are the primary level signifiers and they actively communicates to the audience whereas the art works, colour, music and sound effects are the secondary levels of communication in cinema and they are passive. These passive elements create the essential mood for cinema.

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s s e ys at s s Tom Hansen s ood and the only reminder to his past c life The narrator speaks about the faults that he made while ac uiring the so called the realities of the world . The narrator says that his present day character and the notion, that he has about the perfect lady and happiness stemmed from the miss reading of the movie the graduate and the early e posure of sad British pop music.The shot is so composed that a boy is watching TV with high concentration and he has a sad face. The sad e pression on his face + the track in movement of the camera + the dialogues coming from theTV + the narrators narration + the background score anchors the character Tom Hansens behaving nature and also his attitude towards life. Such a powerful shot when gelled with the possibilities of cinema deliver a lot of information to the narrative structure of the film.
 

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This shot of Summer Finn comes immediately after Tom s shot and the continuing narration immediately states that Summer holds the opposite view bout life. So from this point the motivation factor starts to build up. How did they meet? How did the fell in love and how did they end up engaged? About the shot: Technically the shot is a track in shot. In the shot summer is shown cutting her pretty long hair which she loves the most. From this activity it is clear that she loves giving pain to what she loves or she loves to throw away beloved ones from life with the ease of cutting the hair with sharp scissors and feel no pain. The divorce of her parents adds as a booster to her flirting attitude that we sees in the movie. Thus these shots are the once that generates the characterization of tom and summer in the movie and this can be traced as Act 1 in the narrative structure. With this brief and precise intro we directly enter the movie. Michael Hauge in writing screen plays that sell affirms that there must be a clear specific, , visible motivation or objective which the hero hopes to achieve by the end of the story. The real motivation for Tom Hansen is to meet the real one in his lif But the false notion that e. the narrator creates in audience s mind deviates us from this motivation factor and instead they channel us to the 500 days that Tom spend with Summer.

 

 

 

   

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The determination of the shots: Here in 500 days the inter cut method of narration is employed. Most of the time past and present life of Tom, juxtapose each other to build the narration and end up delivering elements of story to the continuing plot. According to Barthes, the essence of function (here shots) is , so to speak the seed that is sows in the narrative ,planting an element that will come to fruition later . Every building block of a story introduces or shows a new notion that will come up as a primary or secondary turning point at some point in cinema. In 500 days the changing attitude of Summer to Tom can be traced from different shots. They are shown at different points of time as it is weaved in a non -linear fashion. Actually this nature of Summer Finn to dispose the individuals and the things that she loves more with ease was shown in the very first shot that we discussed earlier. Narrative discourse in movies: The thread is modified to communicate on many levels. The tools that a director uses to deliver the thread fully are many. There will be many signifiers in a shot. These signifiers are leads of the thread. The major supporting elements that help a shot to communicate are: y y y y y y y Dialogue Acting of characters Music and background score Voice over (the sound of narrator narrating the story) Camera movements The colour scheme selected according to the mood The props, costumes and hair style.

In a shot where we see Tom has gone wild with the break up. Here in the shot the sound of breaking plates shows the violent mood of Tom. We conceive this at the end of a buildu p. Tom s sister is seen cycling through the streets quickly. The shorter the shot duration the greater will be the punch factor. A sense of suspense and thrill is created. We move along with the character and the friends of tom with their defeatd attitude to calm down Tom glorify the tension. All this buildups converges at a single medium close up shot of Tom s sister in which she quickly turns to the direction of breaking plates. Thus in movies, functions will be represented by units higher than shots. S ometimes a scene is necessary to convey a situation, a mood or an idea. Synopsis of the movie: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel star in director Marc Webb's, nonlinear romantic comedy about a man who falls head over heels for a woman who doesn't believe in love. Tom (Gordon-Levitt) is an aspiring architect who currently earns his living as a greeting card writer. Upon encountering his boss' beautiful new se cretary, Summer (Deschanel), Tom discovers that the pair have plenty in common despite the fact that she's

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seemingly out of his league; for starters, they both love the Smiths, and they're both fans of surrealist artist Magritte. Before long Tom is smitten. All he can think about is Summer. Tom believes deeply in the concept of soul mates, and he's finally found his. Unfortunately for Tom, Summer sees true love as the stuff of fairy tales, and isn't looking for romance. Undaunted and undeterred by his breezy lover's casual stance on relationships , Tom summons all of his might and courage to pursue Summer and convince her that their love is real. Cast
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Zooey Deschanel - Summer Finn Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Tom Clark Gregg - Vance Minka Kelly - Girl at Interview Matthew Gray Gubler - Paul Rachel Boston - Alison Geoffrey Arend - McKenzie Chloe Moretz - Rachel Hansen

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Marc Webb - Director Jessica Tuchinsky - Producer Mark S. Waters - Producer Mason Novick - Producer Steven J. Wolfe - Producer Alan Edward Bell - Editor Andrea Von Foerster - Musical Direction/Supervision Eric Steelberg - Cinematographer Hope Hanafin - Costume Designer Laura Fox - Production Designer Michael H. Weber - Screenwriter Mychael Danna - Composer (Music Score) Rob Simonsen - Composer (Music Score) Scott Neustadter - Screenwriter

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