Narrative Analysis – Madison Marshall

The Women In Black

The Women in black was directed by James Watkins who is also known for his work for Eden Lake and My little eye. The film was realised in the early months of 2012. The film The Women in Black is set in the early 20th century’s following the story of Arthur Kipps and his supernatural encounters. The almost timeless horror film has many conventions of the horror genre and follows a slightly unconventional narrative. This could be seen as a non-linear structure, I will be analysing this point along with the idea of binary opposites and Vladimir Propp’s theory of the 8 character roles. To add to these I will also be discussing other points which link to the narrative and other theory’s that link to the structure of The Women in Black.

Woman_in_black_ver4The film opens with a scene of 3 young girls having a tea party, this automatically starts an enigma of who are these girls? And what is there significates? During the scene the girls walk towards a window and jump. This opens the film with death and sets the tone for the narrative. The unconventional opening sets up the idea of a non-linear structure within minutes of the film. This introduction also creates sadness and a sense of danger for an audience which engages them and wants them to watch more. This death imagery is shown throughout the film which creates a clear narrative.  The next form of death we see is a flash back from Arthur our protagonists memory of the death of his wife. This short scene of his wife’s loss gives us sympathy towards him and sets him up to our “hero”.  This piece of history that we are given about Arthur is a piece of the puzzle that forms his story.  This is almost rewarding to an audience as they feel like they have been given an insight to Arthur and that automatically makes it more interesting and engaging.

As the film progresses there is a very important between Arthur and his boss Mr Bentley, these scene helps to create the narrative setting as he talks to Arthur about him being set work in the small village Crythin Gifford and at Eel Marsh House. This creates an enigma also as we want to know what this new place is and how it contrasts to the London setting we have seen so far. It also creates a essence of fear as it is human nature to fear the unknown. Mr Bentley could be seen as a “dispatcher” which links back to Propp’s character theory and adds to the narrative. Linking back to the setting we see Arthur travel from London to the grim Crythin Gifford. This drastic change leaves us feeling unsettles which is a relation to how Arthur’s emotions. This is a good way to display a point of view to the audience and adds to their interest. Following this scene we meet a collection of character, the most striking out the inn keepers Mr and Mrs Jerome. They show two different reactions to Arthur; Mrs Jerome is very warm towards him which is a contrast to Mr Jerome which could show that they are distant and in a failing marriage. As the scene continues we are lead to a room which is shown at the opening of the film, we are left with Arthur standing in the 3 girls room from the opening. This answers one of our enigmas and gives the audience a sense of fulfilment. This is a way to interacting with the audience and making them feel involved.woman in black rr

As time passes we are introduced to Samuel Daily he befriends Arthur and helps to tell the story by giving slight parts of information so the audience can develop their own picture. Sam is our “helper” as he gives Arthur help and aids his needs. Soon after out first encounter with same we are introduced to another change of setting. Eel Marsh House, as Arthur begins to search this dark and large house we are constantly seeing a silhouette of a dark women. This adds an enigma of the women in black? Who is she? What is she? This is a great development in narrative as we have so many questions to ask and leaves us on the edge of our seat needing to be answered. Many symbols are used to portray to horror genre such as the crow, the portraits and the classic cobwebs.

These are all used to add to this idea of fear as we are constantly reminded that this is a horror film we should be nervous. As the scene inside the house continues we are faced with many glimpses of the black silhouette and this adds to the theory of prop as this create is a “villain”. It also promotes that we need to fear this thing and we should worry for Arthur. When Arthur returns to the village he sees a young girl much like the girls from the start of the film die in front of him. This creates the enigma of Could these deaths link? This is also a Proairetic code as it is a form of action which adds to the narrative.  The death of this girl leads to the village hate of Arthur; they begin blaming him and hiding their children again another enigma. This also creates a binary opposite of villagers and him and believers and non-believers of the paranormal world.

As Arthur visits the house more children from the town begin to die which could link to the narrative following their beliefs. As the horrific events in the house escalate we meet Elizabeth Daily who helps Arthur greatly which could create an argument that she is also a “helper” but she could also be seen as a “donor”. As we as an audience but also as Arthur take her information as a clue to the mystery that is unfolding in front of us. This adds to the narrative as it leaves us with a source to the women in black and also leaves us with a possible way to defeat her. As Sam and Arthur do their best to reunite Jennet (the women in black) and her son Nathan. This leaves us with the story resolved, or so we are lead to believe. After the harrowing conclusion to Jennets story we stage setting to a train station. As this scene reaches its climax we see Arthur’s son Joseph walking away from his father and then see him on the train tracks. Arthur tries desperately to save his boy but ends with him losing his life also. This adds a sadness which we felt at the start of film but as the event plays out we seen Arthur reunited with his wife so creates a happy ending almost. This could possibly make the women in black the “princess” to the film.boy and girl

Overall I believe I have made clear links to the narrative stricter that is seen in the women in black. The theory of character roles is present throughout the film. Tadorofs equilibrium theory is also present to the narrative create the calm, disruption, calm ideal during the film. A non-linear structure is clear as the film opens and closes with death which could possibly be seen as circular structure. I also commented on the 5 narrative codes that are used in this particular film. I believe this film is very unconventional and engaging to an audience, creating many passionate connotations of sadness, loss, death and fear.

Madison Marshall


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