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September 1998, Week 5


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Scott Hutchins <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 28 Sep 1998 21:34:59 -0500
TEXT/PLAIN (90 lines)
_Evil Dead II_, like _Sunset Boulevard_, is narrated by a dead character:
Professor Raymond Knowby.
Scott Andrew Hutchins
Oz, Monsters, Kamillions, and More!
Frances:  I've led a pretty boring life compared to yours.
Freddy [the neighbor]:  Mine was pretty boring, too.  I've just got a
knack for picking out the interesting bits.
                                    --David Williamson
                                    _Travelling North_
                                    Act Two Scene Three
On Fri, 25 Sep 1998, Donald Larsson wrote:
> Ed O'Neill comments:
> > On the "narrative flaws" in _Saving Private Ryan_, I think
> > the logical coherence of Hollywood film is often
> > over-emphasized.  General audiences are quite a bit more
> > flexible in what they expect than devoted fans and even
> > scholars.  Those in the latter group tend to want to
> > construct rules and theories, while the general audience
> > often doesn't care.
> >
> > And filmmakers, of course, will do whatever they think will
> > elicit a strong response, narrative logic be damned.
> >
> > After all, _All About Eve_ switches narrators, _Sunset
> > Boulevard_ is narrated by a dead man, and _Brief Encounter_
> > includes a scene at which the female narrator is not
> > present:  presumably no one ran screaming from the theaters
> > clutching their heads in total incomprehension.  Even _The
> > Usual Suspects_ was just a joyride, as far as most audiences
> > seemed to be concerned.
> A very good observation, but I think further distinctions need to be
> made and they need to be placed within personal and historical contexts
> that are beyond my powers to attempt right now.  Briefly, I'd agree
> that narrative coherence has only the importance that filmmakers,
> critics and audiences want it to have--to varying degrees.  For
> example, having a first-person narration that provides information that
> the teller could not directly know is a long-established convention:
> CITIZEN KANE does it; so does TITANIC.
> On the other hand, I think that some screenwriters and directors have
> obsessed more about narrative logic than others, and I suspect that
> such obsession has been more typical of a bygone era that was governed
> by formalist norms of the work of art as unified whole, a set of norms
> that hasn't disappeared but that was considerably weakened by the onset
> of postmodernism.  Some of the more famous, if apocryphal, debates
> about the nature of film art have dealt with issues such as whether a
> scene taken from inside a fireplace won't make the audience imagine
> that it's about to go up in flames!
> Finally, there are those directors (and writers too) who like to tweak
> the conventions and play with the norms.  SUNSET BOULEVARD is a good
> example of a writer-director who loved to do that kind of thing.
> Don Larsson
> ----------------------
> Donald Larsson
> Minnesota State U, Mankato
> [log in to unmask]
> ----
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