Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Action Adventure and Binary Oppositions

Binary Oppositions

The theorist Levi-Strauss suggested that conflict drives narrative, so it is made up of a series of binary oppositions

Good vs Evil
Man vs Woman
East vs West
Black vs White

And so on…

Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)

Rich vs Poor (upper class fight the peasants and pirates)
Good vs Evil (bad pirates fight good pirates or civilians
Living vs Dead (Living pirates fight the cursed dead pirates)
Water vs Land (action takes place on ships and on land)
Military vs Pirates (soldiers battle with the pirates)
Man vs Woman (Elizabeth Swann vs Jack Sparrow)

The Mummy (1999)

Good vs Evil (Rick and the others fight Imhotep, who conveniently dresses in black)
Man vs Woman (Rick vs Evelyn – they don’t always get on, and this is where some of the tension and enjoyment come from)
East vs West (well, Middle East vs Britain and the USA)
Black vs White (Rick wears a white shirt; Imhotep wears black and, interestingly, when Evelyn is with him, she wears black too; moreover Bey wears black and initially he seems a threat, but later, it has connotations of mystery)The modern World vs the Ancient World (Rick etc vs Imhotep)
Technology vs Magic (guns, aeroplanes vs Imhotep’s magic)
And so on…

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