Summer SAVY 2017, Session 4/Day 1- Theory, Criticism, and The Force (Rising 6th/7th)
Students of Theory, Criticism, and The Force:
Friends, thank you for an exciting and content-packed first day! I’m thrilled by your enthusiasm – both for Star Wars, which is near and dear to my heart, but also to learn new ways of reading and interpreting content. The tools you’ll acquire by week’s end will not only change the way you imagine the story of Luke Skywalker, but the ways in which you will interpret stories for the rest of your life.
Today’s focus on Structuralism affords us a base line to respond to narrative content. Structuralism argues that meaning is derived from the structure of a story; from recognizable forms or patterns. As one of you suggested, a structural analysis might appear at first glance to be a summary of plot, but a random sequence of events does not a structure make. You know that structure demands a template – and you also know that that demand for a template is one of the drawbacks of structural analysis; not all media consumers have the same frames of reference for story structure.
You’ve mastered Aristotle’s three-part form, where all events have a beginning, middle, and an end. This simple formula will prove invaluable, especially as we tackle larger forms and structures.
We also examined Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, using both Campbell’s terminology and the language of screenwriting guru Blake Snyder; I’m particularly delighted that you so took to Snyder’s cycle of “Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis.” We’ll use Snyder’s language to take apart Star Wars over the course of this week.
And it was fun to use these tools to take apart three different stories! We completed a structural analysis of the film Finding Nemo, a key sequence in the film How To Train Your Dragon, and a stand-alone episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The episode that we watched and dissected today was dedicated to Akira Kurosawa, a filmmaker to whom George Lucas was as indebted as he was to Campbell and Aristotle.
I know you’re all eager to begin Star Wars. I’m sorry that our faulty DVD player delayed this key part of the course. Tomorrow we’ll dive in to the film – and we’ll do so with two additional lenses of analysis at our disposal: Formalism and Semiotics. I’m looking forward to this!
Mr. David Lee
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