TCF340/BordwellThompson/Narrative Form (Discussion)

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  1. How do Bordwell and Thompson (B/T) define "form" in its general sense? And how is film a "system"?
  2. Apply B/T's four principles of film form to Day for Night:
    1. Function: What function do Ferrand's dreams serve?
    2. Similarity and repetition: What is one motif that recurs in the film? (And what is a motif, according to B/T?)
    3. Difference and variation: How does the film make use of variations?
    4. Development: B/T note, "Another way to size up how a film develops formally is to compare the beginning with the ending." So, how would you say the beginning and ending of Day for Night signals the film's development?

First shot: (larger image)
Last shot: (larger image)

Narrative form

B/T define narrative form as "...a chain of events in cause-effect relationship occurring in time and space." Discuss/define each phrase of this definition, providing examples from Day for Night:

  1. a chain of events in cause-effect relationship
  2. occurring in time and space

Plot and story

  1. What does the word "diegesis" mean? (Pronounced die-eh-GEE-sis.)
  2. What is the difference between "plot" and "story", as B/T are using those terms?
  3. Describe the plot and the story of Day for Night. How do they differ in terms of temporal (i.e., time)
    • Order
    • Duration
    • Frequency

Classical Hollywood cinema

  1. What are the five or six principal characteristics of classical Hollywood cinema, according to B/T? List them.
  2. Individual characters as causal agents
  3. Desire
  4. Change in characters
  5. Appointments/deadlines
  6. Opposition that creates conflict
  7. Closure
    • Does Day for Night qualify as a classical film? Why or why not?


  1. David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction, 9th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010).

External links

  1. Frame grabs from Day for Night.
  2. Wes Anderson American Express Commercial (Day for Night parody, password protected)
  3. TV Tropes: listing of numerous narrative conventions.