Narrative Film

Michael O'Malley, Associate Professor of History and Art History, George Mason University



The exercise here is about movie "narrative"—the ways movies tell stories. We will explore the development of modern movie narrative, through the site Telling Stories on Film, where you can try your hand at editing a silent film.

Telling Stories on Film: Edwin S. Porter and the Invention of Movie Narrative


When you have finished going through Telling Stories on Film, consider the following questions. You should describe the process of editing a film and refer to the films described in the exercise.

  1. Which way of telling a story is more true to life? Why?
  2. Which is the more "natural" way to tell a story?
  3. What are the implications of modern movie narrative? What has it done to the way we see the world?

Updated | April 2004