Understanding the difference between story and discourse

Watch Christopher Nolan discuss the narrative structure of his film Memento (2000). I think you’ll especially enjoy his visual representation of the film’s structure. My hope is that this clip will help you understand the difference between story and discourse. After watching the clip, how would you describe the film’s story? How would you describe the film’s discourse?

Another option is to watch the pilot episode (S1 E1; 09/25/14) of Shonda Rhimes’s How to Get Away with Murder, which is available on Netflix and abc.go.com. After watching the episode, how would you describe the show’s story? How would you describe the show’s discourse? Can you think of another example from film, television, or literature that helps you understand the difference between story and discourse? How so? You needn’t limit your comments to answering these questions; they are here just to get you started.

DUE DATE:  Sunday, February 19

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One thought on “Understanding the difference between story and discourse

  1. Christopher Nolan explained the structure between the story and discourse in his film Memento. The story is about a man trying to solve the mystery of how his wife was murdered. While the discourse is the two narrative sequences that unravel the film. One is in black and white and progresses from chronological order while the second is in color and moves reverse chronological order. The clips alternate back and forth and they meet with one another at the end of the film.

    The same narrative structure is seen in How to Get Away with Murder, the story revolves around one central murder that is shown in the beginning while the discourse has two narrative sequences. The show starts with reverse chronological clips and it alternates with clips that are taking place in chronological order.

    Both the film Memento and the show How to Get Away with Murder offer a discourse that manipulates the story in the presentation of the narrative. Another example of this is seen in La Niña the story is a about a Columbian guerrilla fighter who is trying to forget her past. The discourse consists of two narrative sequences, the one that starts the story is reverse chronological order and the second is presented in chronological order.

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