Representations of Race

I’ve always been aware that Race has been an issue in film. I’ve never really known why though. I grew up watching Will Smith on tv and films featuring Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Morgan Freeman, to name but a few. So when i looked into it for the purposes of this exercise i was surprised to learn that it’s not as much of an issue as it once was.

I get that, like gender issues, there was a problem with the representations of black people in film. Though i don’t believe it to be valid now. I’m inclined to agree with Stanley Crouchs article on the subject

Recently there was a race issue with the feature animation The princess and the frog, the latest Disney film. It features a black princess (hurrah! Everyone shouted). But wait a minute she falls in love with a white prince! I thought of this as a great interpretation of the melting pot of America. Disney have had a bad rap in the press, with Walt Disney himself being thought to be a racist. But hey, people are still not happy (surprise,surprise). Blogs and forums everywhere have people shouting about why the prince isn’t black. “Is a black man not good enough to be prince?” “Why is the prince white but the bad guy is black?” “Disney had their chance to incorporate a black prince, instead they chose the controversial route”.

I think Disney would be at a loss no matter what they did. I have a feeling that if they had an entire cast of black people they would have been accused of over-compensating. People just love to complain don’t they?!


Representations of Gender

I had a look at what mediaknowall as well as some other websites had to say about gender issues in film and to be honest its nothing new. I do believe that how the media in general portray male and females shape our conceptions of what it means to be either gender. However, I personally believe that most of us grow out these ideas (eventually) and recognize them as misconceptions as we develop our own personal identity. It’s undeniably a problem on television with game shows, documentaries, anything on BBC3 (maybe just my opinion) and advertising portrayal of both sexes. I do not, however, think that the feature film is a problem..any more.

Jillita Horton (link on mediaknowall) writes how she’s pissed that women are always portrayed as weak and helpless. I’m pissed at her ignorance. If she had done her homework before ranting and raving, and maybe watched a couple of films featuring women she will maybe realise that we are not always portrayed as defenseless, stupid women. She doesn’t name any particular film so I’m hoping she’s stuck in a time warp and only watching films pre-1970. I’ve made a list of films in which strong, intelligent, independent women feature.

  • Sigourney Weaver in Alien 1986 (this is a given really)
  • Jodie Foster in Contact 1997
  • House of flying daggers 2004
  • Million Dollar Baby 2004
  • Run Lola Run 1998
  • Any Tarantino film…

These are all examples of strong women playing parts that pre-70s would normally feature men. Times have changed and it would seem some people are still not happy. I say get over it and if you really want to complain about issues in film look into RACE representations, this in my opinion is more of an issue.

Vladimir Propp film analysis

Vladimir Yakovlevich Propp was a Russian and soviet formalist scholar who analyzed the basic plot components of Russian folk tales to identify their simplest irreducible narrative elements.

I’ve chosen the film Robin Hood: Prince of theives (Action, 1991) to analyse in Propps manner.

When Robin and his Moorish companion come to England and the tyranny of the Sheriff of Nottingham, he decides to fight back as an outlaw.

Character Types:

  • The Hero, Robin Hood (Kevin Costner)
  • The Villain, Sheriff George of Nottingham (Alan Rickman
  • The donor, this could also be Azeem (Freeman) He gives Robin Hood the promise that he will lay down his life for him in recognition that Robin once saved his life.
  • The Helper, Azeem (Morgan Freeman)
  • The Princess, Marian Dubois (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio)
  • The dispatcher, Robin’s comrade Peter, as he is dying at the start of the film, asks Robin to protect his sister Maid Marion. Robin then makes the journey from Jerusalem to Nottingham to honor his promise.
  • The false hero, Will Scarlett (Christian Slater). Im not sure if he can be classed as a false hero but he starts of as the leader of the merry men, an unlikable character. The “good” guy you just dont like.

Spheres of Action/Preperation

  • A member of the community leaves home. Maybe this could be seen with Christian Slaters Character Will Scarlett. He is jealous of his half brother Robin Hood. He is ignored by his father in place of Robin. Not exactly leaving, but he is pushed aside.
  • A rule is imposed on the hero. Robin Hood is banished from Nottingham. A bounty is placed upon him.
  • The warning is discounted. Robin Hood and his merry men continue to rob from the rich and give to the poor. He also storms the sheriffs castle to save Maid Marion.
  • The villain attempts to discover something about the victim (hero). The sheriff employs the “talents” of Mortianna (Geraldine McEwan) his mother who can foresee the future. To keep tabs on Robin.
  • The villain discovers something about the hero/victim. Mortianna discovers Robin has brought back a “painted man” (freeman) and foresees her own death.
  • The villain tries to deceive the hero/victim to gain an advantage. The sheriff tells maid Marion that if they marry he will let Robin Hood live.
  • The victim is deceived by the villain and unwittingly helps him. Maid Marion doesnt exactly help the Sheriff but she is deceived by him. His promise to let Robin live was a lie and he tries to have him killed anyway.

Sound in Film


    • Any sound, voice or piece of music that comes from within the world of the narrative.
    • Sound or music that comes from something within a scene, such as a piano sound coming from a piano.
    • Music or sound effects that appear to eminate from the world of the film. This is in contrast to the music score for example, which accompanies the movie but clearly does not come from within it.

Non – Diegetic:

    • Also called “commentary sound,” it is sound which is represented as coming from a source outside the story space.
    • Sounds, such as music or a narrator’s voices that come from outside the space of the narrative.