The Dark Knight shares some similarities with the typical narrative of a superhero film. There is low and high points for the protagonist. The Dark Knight is a superhero film, no question about it, but the way that events are structured and the timeline of the film are quite different. The typical hero’s journey narrative follows are structure or sort of ring. This ring explains the full narrative of the story and how events should be laid out. One event that is completely different in the Dark Knight compared to other hero films and story’s is that the end isn’t happy or good. The Dark Knight ends with Batman becoming outcast and painted as the villain. Typically, the hero’s life would return to normal with a key difference or change. In Dark Knight however, the hero is shunned and disgraced by the villain. In addition, the crisis scene shows how Batman, the ‘hero’, is powerless against the villain. The scene I’m talking about is the boat bomb scene where the passengers on the boat have to blow up one or the other. Batman is completely powerless in the situation as it is up to the passengers to decide who lives or dies. However, some parts of the film are similar. In the approach scene, there is a massive car chase in which the villain is captured, which seems pretty typical for a hero narrative. This shows how while some parts of the film do follow the typical structure, overall The Dark Knight takes a chance and strides to add a little bit of spice into the mix.
Narrative plays a large part in our understanding of Pan’s Labyrinth. Del Toro uses the Narrative in Pan’s Labyrinth in a different way as he shows us the ending at the beginning of the film There’s a few ways that understanding the narrative is so helpful in understanding the movie as a whole:
- Understanding the narrative can help us to understand what the director wants us to feel and think while we as the audience watch the movie. It also helps us to understand the message that the director is trying to convey. In Pan’s Labyrinth the message is that disobedience is the only way we can truly be free as when we see Ofelia dead at the end of the film she is resurrected in the underworld.
- It can help us to understand the central themes of the film which, in the case of Pan’s, has the theme of disobedience over a totalitarian and fascist government oppressing the weak common people. Captain Vidal is basically a caricature of fascism, killing and beating the weak. Ofelia is the embodiment of disobedience. She disobeys Vidal like when she steals her brother from him or when she misses the dinner and gets dirty and loses her dress. She also disobeys the Faun when she doesn’t kill her brother and this ultimately leads to a “happy” ending where she gets reunited with her family.
- The rule of three is the typical narrative structure for films. Act 1 is where the characters and story are set up. At the end of act 1, there is a problem that completely changes the protagonists world. In Pan’s, this is when Ofelia finds The Faun in the labyrinth. Act 2 shows the character trying to sort out the change in the world but by the end of act 2 they encounter a large challenge. Act 2 in Pan’s is when Ofelia tries to complete the Fauns tasks and prove herself but she fails to complete one and angers the Faun. Act 3 is normally when the protagonist puts the world back to normal and the protagonist learns something. However, Del Toro plays with Act 3 as he shows the climax at the beginning when Ofelia dies.
- Different narrative structures can sometimes help us to understand the film. Pulp fiction for example has different story’s running at the same time that link up later in the film. This can help us to understand the film from different perspectives. In pan’s, the fantasy side and the real life side are running parallel to each other and in some cases are interconnected.
- In pan’s the generic character conventions aren’t how we would normally expect them to be. While there are definite generic characters (Ofelia – Protagonist) certain characters act in different ways than the other characters that fit that archetype. The Faun for example could be considered the wise old man that we see in most fantasy films however in most of those films, we trust the old person and thew ya re kind to the protagonist however we see the Faun shouting and getting angry at Ofelia, a clear diversion from the industry standard.
- This is the part of the story (normally about 25% of the run-time) that introduces the characters and movie universe.
- The Monsters Inc. universe is established and we are introduced to the main protagonists, Mike and Sully.
- At the end of act one, there is a disruption to the characters lives.
- Sully finds an open door and a child called Boo runs out and Sully has to get Boo back into her door.
- The protagonist(s) try to fix the world and change their lives back to normal
- Sully bonds with Boo but him and Mike go back to Monsters Inc. and but Boo back into her room. However, Randall captures them and Boo and banishes mike and Sully into the human world.
- Denouement – The world is fixed, but the characters have changed.
- Boo is returned, Sully and Mike realise the value of friendship, Randall is arrested.
- Protagonist – Sully – Main character that we follow that learns something at the end of the film – tries to get Boo back through the door while hiding her from the other monsters
- Sidekick – Mike Wazowski – Helps protagonist in his quest – must help Sully in hiding and returning Boo to the human world.
- Antagonist – Randall – Wants to get rid of the protagonist and hinders the protagonists mission – Tries to kidnap Boo from Mike and Sully and use her to generate screams.
- Dispatcher – Boo – Person who gives the protagonist a task or quest – Boo escaping the door into the monster world means that Sully and Mike must get her back into her room without anyone noticing her.
- The false hero – Henry J. Watermoose – Betrays the protagonist at the climax of the film – Near the end of the film we learn that he and Randall are working together to harvest Boo’s screams.
- The girl – Boo – The “reward” for the protagonist at the end of the film – Returning Boo back to her home gives Sully and Mike gratification and makes them better people as a result.
Conflicts and Themes
One of the most important themes throughout the movie is friendship. This is shown throughout the movie as only when Mike and Sully work together can they help boo get back to her room. This links to the central conflict of the movie which is when Boo escapes, creating an external conflict between Mike and Sully and forces them to form a strong bond together along the way.
The main theme however is good vs evil. One of the main ways this theme is shown is in the slogan of Monsters Inc. “We scare because we care.” which illustrates the theme perfectly as the protagonist must find a synergy between the good and evil and meet in the middle which, by the end of the film, is when Sully and Mike found out that laughs create way more energy than screams.