Removal (main project)

Preliminary Exercise

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Applying Levi-Strauss to the opening of "Pale Rider" and "Die Hard I"

Claude Levi-Strauss was a French anthropologist and film theorist. He considered how storytelling is used as a means of coping with the fundamental contradictions and irresolvable difficulties of a society. Each culture therefore produces its myths: a story which is not true, but something which is repeated so many times it becomes part of a culture's reality or 'common sense'. He studied the structure of stories. He analysed how meaning might be derived from narrative structure by looking at connections in story elements, eg. themes & characters. He also proposed that if one element is identified as giving one meaning, there must be another element which is not that meaning. More specifically, the meaning must be the opposite. He said that story elements which give meaning will usually appear in pairs. For example a story will typically be organised into binary opposites such as "Hero/Villain". My task was to analyse two films which contained binary opposites using Levi-Strauss' film theory.

"Pale Rider" (Eastwood 1985)
  • Settlement/Wilderness
  • Spiritual/Everyday
  • Calm/Chaos
  • Domestic/Savage
  • Natural/Man-made
  • Forest/Desert
  • Silence/Noise
  • War/Peace
  • Civilians/Armed robbers
  • Country people/Town people
  • Stormy weather/Good weather
  • Fire/Water
  • Fast riders/Slow villagers
  • Darkness/Light
  • Still shots/Moving shots
  • Disturbed/Undisturbed surroundings
"Die Hard I" (McTierman 1988)
  • Hard-working cop/Affluent upper-class
  • Group/Couple
  • Chatty/Reserved
  • Young/Old
  • American/Foreign
  • Technology/Old-fashioned wits
  • Cocky/Modest
  • Criminals/Police
  • Men/Women
  • Wits/Brute force
  • Efficiency/Idleness
  • Formal/Informal
  • Home/Away
  • Marriage/Career