The creation of narrative films is a result of decades of evolution in the film industry due to technological, economic, ideological, cultural, and artistic factors. Today, the modern filmmaking industry is quite different from what it was several years ago. More importantly, the influence of narration in the film industry marks one of the last century’s revolutions in film making. Various theorists, film makers, critics, and scholars in the film industry continue to offer suggestions and improvements into modern filmmaking. Narrative films tend to focus on how to tell a story. The central tenet in narrative film is telling a compelling story to the varied audiences through the way it arranges events in time. In addition, while films tell the stories, narrative films have come to provide the most elaborate experiences in cinema. This research paper offers an explanation of the factors that have influenced creation and development of narrative films.
The Influencing Factors
Over the past years, the growth of filmmaking has evolved, and this has led to the adoption of various forms in filmmaking, one of which is the narrative form of films. It is essential to understand that narrative films provide the audience with a series of consequently connected events. Narratives must have constituent parts that are relational. This means that one event will cause another event, which in its turn will entail another one. For this to happen, narratives must require narration and/or communication. Cinematic narration provides the most advanced form of narrative media as it is both visual and audio (Speidel, 2006). The films like the Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Joan of Arc of 1895 set a new era in narration. The main influence in these movies was the fact that films could provide a medium of historical narration. Narrativization of the past events provided a new framework in movie making (Salmi, n.d.). Thus, under this guidance, the Lumiere brothers changed the movie industry and enhanced the use of narration in order to tell compelling stories.
In addition, it is of the essence to keep in mind that the evolution of narrative films anchors on ensuring entertainment and this form is the key priority in narrative films. Further to, the modern films also aim at ensuring that the audiences remained aroused and have a sustained interest. With the desire to provide films that are readily comprehensible to the audiences, then filmmaking must change and lead to adoption of different aspects of filming. Thus, the question is what are the factors that led to the creation of narrative films?
Technological advances cut across all fields. As the history of filmmaking has progressed, so has been the film technology. The technological advancement in this industry created a new film maker and expanded the creativity in film production. It is essential to note that technology has broadened the available tools for filmmaking that suit film production. This marks the evolution in filmmaking that the French film theorist Louis Delluc described as the filmmaking methods and techniques, and the elements that are unique to film. With development in film making, equipment and facilities like cameras, sound recording tools, and editing techniques, the film makers became able to make more complex and advanced films. The driving factor behind the evolution of narrative film is the technological advancement that has changed with man’s initiative and invention. This has given filmmakers an opportunity to blend and integrate it into the filmmaking domain by choosing the most appropriate technology that can enable the telling of a more complex story. In addition, technological advancement has enhanced the growth of distinct styles, movements, and methods. However, it is vital to note that the skills of film makers has not changed with technology but as a result of the need to use the available technology to convey emotions, narratives, and produce desired impression (Piccirillo, 2011). Early films did not call for today’s technology in order to convey their messages. Edison produced the first films that were simplistic in nature, and this did not call for the adoption of modern technology into the film making. The evolution of narrative filmmaking and the technology behind came as a result of the Lumiere Brothers’ Cinématographe. They introduced innovative location shooting and ultimately led the filmmakers out from the studio confines (Bordwell & Thompson, 2008). This evolution, however, did not ensure the production of better films, but it set the foundation for filmmaking evolution.
The film makers’ need to provide scenes that would show details and emotions led to the evolution of the single-short films. The film Trip to the moon (1902) by George Melies adopted several single short scenes in order to enhance details. This film provided exemplary performance in the presentation of ideas, series of scenes that exploited the use of different stages and camera editing tricks. Thus, this enhanced the creation of films that exceeded the limits of space and time in theater. Later films, including The Cheat by Cecil B. DeMille, employed analytical editing tools and used multiple shots from differences distances in order to show the emotions and details of the captured scenes (Bordwell & Thompson, 2008). The use of new tools in filmmaking led to greater clarity in narration and reliability of characters. This presented a new step in the progress of filmmaking and the ability to tell more coherent stories. The evolution of synchronized sound made a change in the silent movie era. The advances in multiple-track sound recording and improvements in microphones offered new stylistic resources to the film makers. The film M, by Fritz Lange, is one of those that enhanced a revolution in this era of improved sync-sound. However, different film makers were able to tell different stories using the available technology of the time. The adoption of color in films underwent evolution just like the sound. Many films in the silent era did not use colors but involved the use of tinting and toning processes to enhance color to the frame. Colors enabled the filmmakers to enhance their clarity of the scenes (Bordwell & Thompson, 2008). Concisely, the technological advances in the film industry continue to change each day and the digital cinema era makes it change even more. The power to develop quality films has relied upon the filmmakers, and future technologies may enhance changes in narrative films.
Economic factors relate to the cost of making movies. Over the last years, the economic resources that are available to the film makers are some of the key influencing factors. The film and electronic media largely relies on the availability of resources. This factor is primarily related to production and development of fiction films. The development of films did not rely on any strategies nor did any invention require them to develop in any particular way. Various audiences have come to associate films with entertainment. This has led to the development and distribution of movies for profits, commercialization and industrialization of the filmmaking process. It is essential to note that this industrialization process is expensive and highly profitable. The laws of economics will dictate that the most profitable firms must attract large audiences in order to make profits. Thus, the evolution of the narrative films and the association to profitability is the key factor in its growth. Film makers will focus in making the narratives that will draw the audiences, in order to ensure sustainability.
In addition, economic factors also relate to the costs that the filmmakers incur in making a film. Thus, they will focus on how to minimize the production costs and maximize profits. In addition, film makers take account into the implications of the dominance of some narrative structures. In making narrative films, it is essential to design and build buildings and structures that will accommodate the films, to enhance and improve tools and equipments in order to suit the film production process (Newcomb, 2004). Film makers will focus on the methodologies that will ensure cost minimization and profit maximization. Since the central tenet in narrative movies is entertainment, film makers will create movies that will draw large audiences.
The ideological factors also emanate from the contribution of Georges Méliès’s ideas to narrative films between 1880 and 1905. In France, Georges Méliès grew to become one of France’s largest producers of fiction films. Some of most notable contribution in the film industry was the use of trick effects in movies. This was one of the most successive ideologies in the film industry in that time. In addition, Georges Méliès pioneered the production of the longer films and this led to eventual adoption of longer films after the year 1899. The market followed suit in the same ideology of longer films in the industry. One of Georges Méliès early narrative films that changed the ideologies was A Trip to the Moon (1902) and Cinderella (1900). These were movies in which he introduced the earliest distinct effects in narration. These films told elaborate stories of an incredible nature. Modern filmmakers give credit to Georges Méliès for having put in place distinct effects, and how he pioneered in techniques like dissolves, time-lapse photography, multiple exposures, and stop-action substitution (Towsen, 2009). The contribution of Thomas Alva Edison to narrative films also swept the film industry very quickly. In 1889, Thomas Alva Edison developed with the help of his staff the most elaborate technology that changed the film industry. The use of the Kinetoscope in showing photos that flipped in a sequence enhanced the development of a new ideology of showing images to more than one individual at a time. The era of the narrative films will not be complete without highlighting the contributions of D. W. Griffith’s ideas to narrative films from 1880 to 1910. D. W. Griffith’s ‘The Birth of a Nation’ made a significant contribution to the film industry’s development. He pioneered changes in the American film industry. D. W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms of 1918 led to the introduction of a new idea in film making; soft focus. D. W. Griffith also contributed to the use of symbolism in film making. He is a pioneer in the grammar of film making.
In a nutshell, the ideas from Méliès in the production of the motion pictures, coupled with those of other pioneers like Thomas Edison and the Lumiére brothers marked the begging of a new era in narrative films. Though the three had a different approach to film making, they made significant leaps in movie production. Ideological factors have enhanced changes in narrative structures. Ideologies constitute the beliefs that people hold true. It is the core of the understanding the world around us (Hill-Parks, 2004). The development of war films in the 1970 emanated from the social and political ideologies present at that time. For instance, the Vietnam War films reflected the changes in American culture. Authors such as Mike Cormack noted that maintaining an ideology was a long term process (Hill-Parks, 2004). Thus, ideologies were not things that people could establish through just one film or any cultural product. Several movies in the 1970s that reflected the ideologies of war included The Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), by John Wayne and the Apocalypse Now (1979). Thus, war ideologies in the films sought to address issues like the morality of wars. Some of the present day films such as The Black Hawk Down (2001) and Three Kings (1999) provide the outlook at the influence of modern war on the society (Hill-Parks, 2004). It is essential to note that ideologies exist in societies, and they emanate from cultural, political, and socio-economic background. The ideology that people have facilitates upholding ideals of the majority.
Culture is an outgrowth of the society (Hill-Parks, 2004). The cultural perceptions towards certain ideologies tend to shift with time and these calls for shifts in making movies and narrative films. Thus, cultural aspects will reflect in the movies, and how film makers go about providing themes that people of different cultures uphold. Some of the first films by Edison were as a result of the culture of the nineteenth century. It is essential to note that cinema exits just like any social institution (Anonymous, n.d.). It provides the means to which social contact occurs among people. It is through film that societies understand the cultural issues of time. Another significant cultural aspect that emanated from the films of the late 1800s is the shift in acting roles. One of the crucial factors that cultural changes brought was the rights that women gained during late 1800s. This led to the creation of women actors. D.W. Griffith is one of directors that changed this industry by training new female actors. The Great Train Robbery (1903) is one of the last century’s most influential movies. It highlighted on the social life of the time. It lays the foundation of social vices of the time. The role of women in films started in the movie Carmencita (1894). At the time, production of scandalous films was not part of the day’s film culture. Since the films revealed Carmencita’s legs, prohibition started in the era of motion pictures.
It is clear that sex in films at the time was not part of the societal expectations in movies. An Unseen Enemy (1912) is another film that also featured women in films. The May Irwin Kiss (1896) is one of the movies that introduced kissing to films at the time public kissing could lead to prosecution. The French film Après Le Bal (1897) by Georges Melies introduced nudity in a scene where a maid helps a person to undress for a bath. The view of sex at the time depicted the cultural values that the society maintained at the time. Sex was a highly regulated behavior in the Hollywood era (George Mason University, 2012). However, as times changed, sex narrative films increased, and the role of women in these films significantly increased. Historical factors indicate that the early cinema came as a result of art and architecture. This was clear in the Iranian cinema whose influence was architecture, and the rich poetic tradition that dates back to Persia (Butler, 2007). In addition, the influences to narration under the artistic framework come from the addition, the expression of the emotional drama in films, sensual shrills, and romantic fantasies in the Indian movies make up the new artistic devices that they employ in order to pull audiences.
The main theme behind narrative films is the presentation of ideas that convey a comprehensible message to the audience. Thus, artistic factors constitute the basic tenets of filmmaking and how the filmmakers will go about designing the story and plot, the time of the movie, cause and effect, space and narration (Speidel, 2006). From the earliest days, making films showed two fundamental attributes; provided a powerful form of cultural and artistic expression coupled with the application of artistic factors in movie making. Filmmakers in the early days shoot films in studios in the late 1800s. The growing number of theatres continued to influence the creation of movies. It also led to the shooting of films out in locations, moving them from the studios. At the time, art that was performed in live theaters before film making started. This was in the plays and dramas. However, with the realization that film making could expand and become commercially viable, the production of films arose eventually leading to film making. An excellent example is that of Georges Melies, who at one time an art exhibitionist and used magic in theaters, later was becoming an icon in film production in France (Towsen, 2009). In addition, Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation is one of the films that illustrate the life in the era of Reconstruction. This is a film that painfully indicates the aggressive fantasies and hysterical anxieties and offers a demonstration of ‘American racism, attitudes about class, gender, ethnicity, heroism, play, work, and “the virtuous life” (George Mason University, 2012).
The film production methods of the late 1800 were inadequate as compared with modern film studios. Earl films did not play for more than 10 minutes. This inadequacy led to production of films that were short. Before the creation of narrative films, plays and drama were the main means of entertainment. The early cinema was a primitive cinema of attractions (Anonymous, n.d.), some of which did not use compelling characters or gave engrossing stories. Some of the artistic techniques that Georges Méliès employed in film production were superimposition effects, double exposure used in the Georges Méliès films, and stop motion techniques in the Edison film. These techniques changed the film industry. This eventually led to the production of narrative films (Towsen, 2009). It is essential that filmmakers establish the plot of a story, as it aids in the presentation of the narrative film to the audience. Narrative films present ideas in a cause effect manner through the use of characters. Human beings connect to events in a natural manner through causal motivation. Thus, with the use of narrative films it is easier to suppress effects by use of suspense in order to provoke curiosity.
Development of narrative films is not accidental flow in the culture, but the need to provide movies and films that make stories. Thus, the evolution of the film industry, more particularly the narrative films, is a result of the changing needs of the society, ideologies adopted by the film makers, the cultural aspect, artistic values that the film makers need, and economic and cost factors. However, it is essential to note that the most fundamental driving force is technological advancement that has led to the integration of sound and motion pictures. This technological advancement resulted in the evolution of editing technologies that have accentuated clarity and precision in telling stories that evoke emotions and make an impression across all audiences. In addition, it is through stories that people perceive the world around them. The need to make this possible is a driving factor in making of movies.