The structure of repetition, as Meir Sternberg (1978) defines it, consists in the repeated presentation of a fabulaic event along the text continuum. It has three types of component members: (1) forecast (e.g., command, scenario); (2) enactment (representing the forecast’s objective realization, as communicated by an authorized narrator); and (3) report (about an enactment, a forecast, or another report, all delivered by some character). This research examines the repetition structure in cinematic narrative: specifically, in heist, adventure, and military operation films. Throughout, the argument proceeds with special reference to these genres, as well as to the cinema’s medium, practice, and conventions in general, often citing literary parallels or precedents for comparison. It examines the different elements that serve to (re)compose the repetition structure for certain ends; the types of member brought together within the structure; their size, number, forms of transmission, order of appearance, representational proportion, and possible interrelations (overlap, partial overlap, contradiction, expansion or summary of a previous member). Above all, the analysis relates these interplays themselves to the structure’s functions at the level of plot, meaning, and rhetoric, notably including their generic variations, as exemplified by the three focal genres.

This article is based on parts of my doctoral dissertation, “Repetition Structure in the Cinema: From Communicational Exigency to Poetic Device” (Tel Aviv University, 2010). For details, see the appendix. I would like to thank Meir Sternberg for his generous and invaluable guidance in all stages of this research, from a BA seminar through an MA thesis and a PhD dissertation to this present publication.

This research was supported by the Open University of Israel’s Research Fund (grant no. 47802).

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