«Film Narrative» - Great Essay Sample

«Film Narrative»

Everything in the world is influenced by time. Cinema is no exception. Features of film narration have changed recently. It has happened, because people have changed the way of their thinking and, in total, the way of their living. In modern culture dominated by new media (especially television and the Internet), experiences are becoming increasingly fragmented and it contributes to the shift in the way of presenting stories which under the influence of such experience have become complex and opaque. These complex stories have also big impact on folk-psychological way of understanding (Buckland, 2009, p. 1). Thereby, through the films this new way of narration influences every person.

In order to understand, what has changed in the way of film narration, it is necessary to define what the narration in film is. Narrative theoretician Gerard Genette (1990) has indentified trilogy of elements that make up narrative for film. He speaks of narrative as being composed of order, duration, and frequency. The ordering has to do with placement – placing of various characters in motion, developing some combination of events. Frequency has to do with replacement and repetition. Duration for Genette means that narrative can be constructed in one of five manners: compressed time – narrative constructed in compressed summarized form in which much is covered in far less time than it would take to actually occur; ellipsis – focusing on what to leave out of a narrative is an important necessity in character centered scripts that attempt to cover many years in a character’s life; screen time and narrative time are equal – what we see is exactly what we get in terms of duration; stretched time – screen time stretches the actual time of the story beyond the bounds of the time; the pause of zero moment – a time-out from the narrative in which “nothing” happens. Although, it may seem that nothing has changed in the narrative features of film, because we have the ability to watch films with all these narrative elements, in fact, the narration of most films has changed its essential sense. Films have changed not in form but in the transferring of information (Horton, 1994, p. 94-98).

To see this shift it is necessary to consider Hollywood films. Bordwell, and Thompson describe Hollywood film as an “excessively obvious cinema made up of a linear cause-effect narrative built around a central protagonist, and demonstrating consistency of character, and the need for successful resolution” (Hayward, 2006, p.64). However, Hollywood films, that were some years ago, are not those that we watch nowadays. They have become sexier, more violent, and more profane (Bordwell, 2006, p. 1). Moreover, in them are used other narrative methods to gain the attention of the audience. The most frequently used method is replacement of narrative elements by impressive special effects. To tell the long story is not in fashion any more. To impress the audience is the goal of modern filmmakers (Lavik, 2009, p. 145). For example, in the film In the Mood for Love by Wong Kar-wai all the efforts are directed to create a narration consisting of gaps, unreliable cues, and retardations in order to impress spectators (Buckland, 2009, p. 10).

However, there are many others modern narrative methods. To understand their importance, it is necessary to consider them in the context of films. Firstly, one of the new narrative methods is frustrated time narration that has been used in two of Charlie Kaufman’s screenplays –“Adaptation” (2002) and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004). This narrative method based on indeterminate articulation of time - a tension between, on the one hand, a desire to overcome time as a variable and, on the other, the demand for narrative clarity and the irreversible nature of projection time (Buckland, 2009, p.9). Secondly, one of the new narrative methods is the creation of sharp contrast between two characters. It is showed in the Andrew Lau’s Infernal Affairs (2002–3) trilogy of films. In those films are two main characters

Yan and Ming, who deny the truth of each other. The spectators are free to make the choice between them (Buckland, 2009, p.10). This narrative method is closely connected with the theory of individualism that states that every person is free to make choice independently. Thirdly, very interesting modern narrative method is mind game. Many Hollywood films are complicated or pretend to seem such by presenting inconsistency in their plots or different intriguing moments. The great example of it is Lars von Trier’s film The Boss of It All (2006). The film is a comedy which deals with the story of the head of an IT organization hiring a failed actor to play the “boss of it all,” in order to cover up a sell-out. This film is full of riddles and intriguing moments (Buckland, 2009, p.13). This method has a great impact on the attitude of spectators to the film. Buckland W (2009, p.13) states “Mind-game, played with movies” fits quite well a group of films I found myself increasingly intrigued by, not only because of their often weird details and the fact that they are brain-teasers as well as fun to watch, but also because they seemed to cross the usual boundaries of mainstream Hollywood, independent, auteur film and international art cinema. I also realized I was not alone: while the films I have in mind generally attract minority audiences, their appeal manifests itself as a “cult” following”.

To sum up, narrative features of the films have changed in recent time, which is clearly seen from the examples from the films, because of the changing of the goals of the cinema and changing of the way of the attraction of spectators.



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