Finished Horror Opening Sequence 2010

Preliminary Exercise 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Applying Propp's Theory to Mean Girls

Propp's Theory
Vladmir began by basing his theory on russian folktales. His theory was mainly for fairytales and folk tales however he came up with different function that can be applied to fictions and lots of films.Vladimir Propp developed a character theory for studying media texts and productions, which indicates that there were 7 main character:

  • The villain (struggles against the hero)
  • The donor (prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object)
  • The (magical) helper (helps the hero in the quest)
  • The princess (person the hero marries, often sought for during the narrative)
  • Her father ( who rewards the hero)
  • The dispatcher (character who makes the lack known and sends the hero off)
  • The hero or victim/seeker hero, reacts to the donor, weds the princess

From this he then broke down films into small sentences and suggested that all films have a similar narrative structure that they follow. He came up with 31 key components of a fairytale which are used in all different films today and split into 4 spheres
  • 1st sphere: The Introductory Sequence
  • 2nd Sphere: The Body of the Story
  • 3rd sphere:The Donor Sequence
  • 4th sphere:The Hero's return
Problems with Propp's Theory
Problems with Propp's theory is that this theory was made a very long time ago so its now a new era and with that there is new technology to consider which is why sometimes it does not fit with the structure. Also there are new film writers and many different genres therefore they are more complexed and do not fit with the theory as it was orgianlly for folktales and fairytales. Valadmir was also criticised for removing all verbal considerations as folktales were always oral, therefore the theory did not consider tone or mood so all fairytales were exactly the same according to the theory. His theory of a structuralist approach to a narrative was also looked at by Claue Levi-Strauss who looked at connections between story elements eg theme and characters. Therefore he developed Propp's theory further and pointed out many problems.
Propp's Theory applied to Mean Girls

Villain-The plastics

The Helpers- Lizzy and Damien
The Father- Family and People and School

In the first part of the film Cady would be the part of the hero she is introduced immediately and is the protagonist of the film. We also meet her and her family who have left Africa and cady is about to start her first day at a high school this fits with sphere 1 part 1 of Propps theory
Cady is then told not to be friends with the plastics by Damien and Lizzy and this is when we find out ‘1st sphere part 2’ the interdiction is announced

They invite Cady to have lunch with them in order to meet her which shows that the interdiction is violated which is ‘sphere 1 past 3’

We are then introduced to ‘The plastics’ that would play the villain according to the theory. This also fits with the 1st sphere part 4 ‘Villain tries to meet hero’.

The plastics then find out that Cady has moved here from Africa and that she likes Aaron in her maths class this would relate to ‘sphere 1 part 5’ where the villain has now found out information that she is vulnerable and easily influenced and likes Regina’s ex.

The Plastics have now made the Cady, the hero part of there group in this way Cady turns quite evil which highlights a flaw in Propp’s theory because she has now turned into one of the villains for part of the film. Hovever the fact she has been tricked and is now turning into one of them corresponds to ‘Sphere 1 part 6/7’

The Hero is also tricked because Regina tells Cady she can’t go with Aaron because its against the girl rules and then Regina gets back with Aaron knowing Cady likes him

In ‘Sphere 2 part 10’ the hero decided on counteraction, Cady plots to get Regina back my doing horrible things to her and is helped by Damien and Lizzy
In Sphere 3 part 12 the hero is tested this is like when Cady is tested by Regina where she flaunts her boyfriend that Cady wants but Cady has to stay strong in order for her counteraction to work
After Cady sets up all these plans to make Regina unpopular she soon finds out and this is where the hero and villain are now in direct combat 'Sphere 3 part 16' Regina hates Cady and visa versa
The hero is then branded 'Sphere 3 pasrt 17' Cady is the new plastic however this is not a good thing and does not fit with a hero's description
The villain who is Regina is defeated and nobdy likes her anymore this fits with 'sphere 3 part 18'
So now Regina wants to get her own back so decided to hand in the burn book which is full of horrible things about people and give it into the headteacher corresponding with 'Sphere 4 part 21' Hero is persued
Regina the says thats she is the burn book when infact that was set and pretends shes very upset by what has been done which is like 'Sphere 4 part 24' false hero claims success of true hero
The difficult talk of 'Sphere 4 part 25' is that Cady is exposed as being mean and everyone turns against so she has to not lie anymore and get her friends back and to be liked
This is resolved by true hero 'Sphere 4 part 26' when she goes to the prom in order to do her speech and not take the crown but share it with everyone
Everyone likes her again and this is 'Sphere 4 part 27' the true is recognised
Everything then changes Cady becomes like a normal girl the plastics break up and everyone has joined new groups and have a new appearence which fits with 'Sphere 4 part 29'
Although not every part fits, considering this was made a long time ago alot of functions fit with a modern film Mean Girls. I think the main thing that does not work is the thought that the hero must go on a physical journey and leave home because this could be percieved differently in new films. For example Cady did not leave home but she changed and went through a mental journey in Mean Girls.