Content and Discourse Analysis in Narrative Film : a Case Study of Sun Tzu's the Art of War in Red Cliff I (2008) and Red Cliff II (2009)



Chang, Wai Hoong (2009) Content and Discourse Analysis in Narrative Film : a Case Study of Sun Tzu's the Art of War in Red Cliff I (2008) and Red Cliff II (2009). Final Year Project (Other), Tunku Abdul Rahman University College.

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The objective for conducting this research is to examine the narrative perspective on films. Narrative is a tool used in every film to help audience’s comprehension in order to gain access to the understanding of a story. In addition, films are also capable to portray certain ideology. This research intends to examine on the narrative construction and narrative portrayal on a historical war film by the name Red Cliff which consists of part I (2008) and part II (2009) directed by John Woo. However, it is reminded that the two parts of Red Cliff will be discussed as one film throughout this research because the story runs in continuity rather than apart. Two theories on narrative systems are used to find out narrative construction and narrative portrayal: The first is Russian narrative Formalism that focuses on ‘Causality’ and ‘Parallelism’ while the second is Structuralism that uses ‘story’ and ‘expression’. The methodology used is content analysis, more into qualitative form. Narrative construction has adopted two branches of Formalism; ‘Causality’ and ‘Parallelism’ to construct comprehensible and meaningful narrative structure. Red Cliff has proved that it uses Formalism in its narrative. Firstly, ‘Fabula’ is defined as the location of centrality of cause- and- effect within a whole narrative; meaning that throughout the film there is only one cause and one effect. Secondly, ‘Syuzhet’ is known as an emphasis on minor events or subplots to support the ‘Fabula’. It de- centralizes happenings into bits by bits slowly connected into a whole narrative. Thus it serves as a subset or ‘moments of narrative progression’ to the understanding of ‘Fabula’. Through data collection of the film into narrative segmentation of major events, it is confirmed that Cao Cao’s intention viii to invade Sun Quan and Liu Bei in the Northern land is the cause to the consequence of his defeat in the end indicates as ‘Fabula’ while the planning of war strategies and the establishment of connection between characters of protagonists and antagonists in the middle of the film is ‘Syuzhet’. This proof of interconnectedness between ‘Fabula’ and ‘Syuzhet’ is further endorsed by Aristotle’s ‘Syllogism’ showing that cause- and- effect and the deep continuity in Red Cliff are prevalent. Narrative construction also lends the way of ‘Parallelism’ in which John Woo exposes symbolisms that tie similarities between subjects and objects to convey moral values, for instance, greed brings about destruction, unity and cooperation, respect freedom and human’s fate. John Woo has the tendency to compare human beings with animals’ personalities or other materials. There are five obvious symbolisms identified. The first is the comparison of a chirping canary ambience that calls to peace but when it chirps in the state of nervousness and then flies away, this indicates chaos is about to happen in the film. Next is the various signs in which Red Cliff portrays that show Cao Cao’s defeat, for instance of two occasions are the assassinations of his great Naval Generals Cai Mao and Zhang Yun and when Xiao Qiao pours the entire cup of tea out as a warning to Cao Cao of his invasion will end up as emptiness. In addition, another symbolism is the comparison of Cao Cao with a tiger’s characteristics like cunning, fast, brutal and like a villain. Another is when the time Zhou Yu strengthens the alliance power by comparing themselves and their limited armies with strands of grasses because unity is the core spirit to win a war. Lastly is John Woo’s favourite auteur symbolism by using pigeons to denote freedom as Sun Shang Xiang wishes to choose her loved one by herself and also to be free from living in a palace for an extended period making her life boring ix and meaningless. Now to examine about narrative portrayal on how Red Cliff portrays Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, two branches of Structuralism is used: ‘Story’ and ‘Expression’. Evidences are found through Red Cliff on dialogues and/or scene descriptions together with visual manifestations. The data are categorized accordingly by the samples of four excerpts of The Art of War. They are laying plan, waging war, the attack by fire and the use of spies. It is proved that Red Cliff has the correlation with the quotes by Sun Tzu in The Art of War by analyzing the story and expression (visuals and auditory forms).

Item Type: Final Year Project
Subjects: Language and Literature > Literature (General) > Broadcasting
Language and Literature > Philology. Linguistics > Communication. Mass media
Faculties: Faculty of Social Science, Arts and Humanities > Advanced Diploma in Mass Communication (Broadcast Communication)
Depositing User: Library Staff
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2019 07:14
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2022 03:52