Classical and Postclassical Narrative

Essay by KatieWebbiUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, November 2014

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Webster 5

To what extent does postclassical narrative differ from classical narrative? Compare and contrast one classical film and one post-classical film.

It is undeniable that the types of films being released and audience expectations have changed hugely over the years. Between the 1920s and 1960s, the Hollywood studio system dominated all aspects of film production. Consequently, they needed to create films that were appealing and accessible to the masses in order to maximise profits (Gomery, 1999: 247-252). These classical Hollywood films had similar traits such as: characters with clear goals and personalities, a tight chain of cause and effect, dual plotlines, appointments and deadlines, a clear opening, a strong closure, invisible narration and style and narrative clarity. However, when the studio system declined in the 1960s these storytelling methods were altered. Warren Buckland describes post-classical Hollywood films as being:

'not structured in terms of a psychologically motivated cause-effect logic, but in terms of loosely linked, self sustaining action sequences often built around spectacular stunts, stars and special effects.

Complex character traits and character development....have been replaced by one-dimensional stereotypes, and plot-lines are now devised almost solely to link one action sequence to the next. Narrative complexity is sacrificed on the altar of spectacle. Narration is geared solely to the effective presentation of expensive effects' (1998: 167).

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle has been seen by many critics as a prime example of this. Nevertheless, I believe that all films, no matter what year they were made, utilise the characteristics of the classical Hollywood narrative in some way as without them there would be no story. In this essay I will be comparing and contrasting Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (McG, 2003) by investigating the extent to which they conform to the conventions of the classical Hollywood...