The Todorov Narrative Theory within Bond

Todorov’s Narrative Theory

Izetan Todorov was a Bulgarian structuralist linguist publishing influential work on narrative from the 1960’s. Todorov suggested that stories begin with an equilibrium or status quo where any potentially opposing forces are in balance. This is interrupted by a series of events; problems are solved so that order can be restored to the world of the fiction. Todorov claimed that conventional narratives are structured in five different stages.

  • A state of equilibrium at the outset
  • A disruption of the equilibrium by some action.
  • A recognition that there has been a disruption.
  • An attempt to repair the disruption
  • A reinstatement of the equilibrium.

This type of narrative structure is very common to us and can be applied to many ‘mainstream’ film narratives including the James bond films.

The Opening Sequence of James Bond ‘Quantum of Solace’ follows Todorov’s theory as seen below

  • The equilibrium in this opening sequence is the protagonist agent (James Bond) as he is the character that the viewer wants to succeed. The villain in the plot is the man chasing after Bond in an attempt to kill him.
  • The disruption in this is the car chase between the two rivalling characters as the villain tries to kill James aggressively in this chase. There is continuous conflict shown between the two of them as they shoot each other in order to force each other to crash. This disruption hints that there will be numerous obstacles on the way causing the enemy to try and stop him from succeeding.
  • At the beginning of the film, there is a moving establishing shot of the island to set the location and take the audience through the surroundings. At 0.56 and 0.59, there is an ECU of the actor Daniel Craig then a dark shadow casts over his face to show a sense mystery of this character. This use of minimal lighting is very effecting at representing the characteristics of the character. Also with the shot, idealises the determination and sorrow in his eyes, which is very effective.
  • The whole clip is very fast-paced and at 1.41, there is a wide shot of all three cars which packs in all of the action so the audience gets front row seats of this action as it is all placed in front of them. At 4.07, there is a high angle shot of the villain tied up in the trunk of James’ car. The effect this has is by showing the difference in power with the protagonist standing over the villain and the camera looking down on him makes him seem vulnerable and weak in comparison to the very strong, calm and collected Bond.
  • The use of having the protagonist in a formal and expensive suit carries out the tradition conventions of his persona within the Bond films. The Aston Martin DBS acts as the props in the clip as it provides action and represents wealth and class.
  • The Resolution is when the character the viewer wants to succeed (James Bond) shoots down and counteracts the other car and villains causing a collusion from a cliff killing the villain and manages to get the other villain tied up. However, the typical conventions of a hero always seem to get out alive and unharmed.
  • From this opening sequence, it is obvious that there will be a lot of disruption throughout the film, as the main character seems to have made many enemies and conveys that it is falls under the action film genre.
  • All of the James Bond films follow Todorov’s theory as they have the agent and villain(s) that fight out a battle of hatred towards each other. Often there is a female involved and participate in a journey throughout the film consisting of car chases and brutal fights to try and complete the main aim of the film.
  • However, the new equilibrium is not always full of complete happiness as he is betrayed by his love interest ‘Vesper’ but in every film manages to come out of it alive, but the equilibrium will be restored as it is guaranteed that he will survive every obstacle thrown at him and will go on to fight again.

This is a clear view that the James Bond films follow the theory of Tzevetan Todarov as it starts with equilibrium, a disruption along the way but finishes with a new equilibrium.



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