“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
The history of storytelling is a history of many unknowns. Most of us probably imagine that storytelling began with cavemen sitting around a fire telling stories of great hunts of their past. In actuality we just don't know. There is no other thing that captures human's attention and keeps them mesmerized for hours. Some of our greatest childhood memories are probably listening to an elder tell a story to us. It has been done, most likely, from the beginning of time.
It is amazing to me to think of the first men and women telling stories to their families, clans, or even a whole community. Now we all know that not everyone is a good storyteller, but those who can deliver a strong presence when they tell their stories usually are considered some of the most important people within their groups. They are those we can create worlds with words, who can capture imaginations and take the listeners to to these worlds they created. Cave paintings are most likely evidence of early story telling, a way to help the storytellers remember what had happened. This is seen all over the world. Some tribes of people used to (and some still do) combined carvings, dance, music, and rituals with their stories...a primitive motion picture you could say. These things combined use all of the listeners senses completely enveloping them into the story. Story tellers have been the most influential and important people in the history of the world arguably. Even Kings and Emperors had the best come to them to entertain them.
Stories come in various forms like fairy tales, myths, legends, fables, historical, personal experience, and tales that are meant to teach lessons. These oral tales are typically broken into two (German) categories:
MärchenStories told with flat characters and mostly supernatural events. Usually seemingly grotesque events happen to these characters and takes place in lands that don't exist. Their are no real emotional value in it's characters. These are your Fairy Tales.
SagenThese stories take place in lands the listener may know or are supposed to be a real place(s). Events happen that will effect the listener in a emotional way making the stories more real. These are our Legends.
Essentially storytelling has been a way to connect with others. A way to be able to not only create worlds but to bring the listener into the mind of the storyteller.
So why did I write this short little look into storytelling? One I feel like every film maker and scriptwriter should understand a little bit of how stories have been told through out history to be able to truly understand the best way to deliver stories. People have remained the same, the way they act, the way they listen, and the way they imagine. The techniques of the greatest story tellers are some of the best lessons, even today, that we can learn how to intrigue an audience. And seeing a lack in creativity in Hollywood as of recent should be enough encouragement for film makers of today to truly become students of primitive storytelling.