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September 2001, Week 3


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 20 Sep 2001 09:24:34 +1000
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Microsoft Corporation
Linda Aronson <[log in to unmask]>
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Dear List

An interesting issue in non-linear forms (which often tend to be multiple or
parallel narratives, jumping in and out of time frames etc) is the matter of
truncation.  Very often there are so many stories to handle that the stories
are truncated at Turning Points in what would be their three act structure -
with some very interesting effects   A very clear and witty example  is in
Crimes and Misdemeanors - where Woody Allen deliberately takes the three act
structure for a traditional Hollywood love story (Boy gets girl, boy loses
girl, boy gets girl back) and a Hollywood Crime and Punishment-style
thriller (Villain Commits Crime, Villain is hunted and feels pangs of guilt,
Villain is caught and Punished)  and turns them into Boy gets Girl, Boy
Loses Girl, End of Film (!) and Villain Commits Crime,  Villain is hunted
and feels pangs of guilt - and Villain lives happily ever after(!)   The
clear and stated moral being that life isn't like a Hollywood movie.
Another interesting example is  The Sweet Hereafter, which  has eleven
stories in nine different time frames.  This stops a lot of the stories at
what would normally be their first act turning point  - to make them end on
a question, which, in a three act model, would really be the 'start' of the
story ( most clearly, the central story of the surviving girl who rejects
the chance to get revenge).     In the flashforward story of the lawyer in
Sweet Hereafter, the story ends at what, in the traditional Western model
would be its Second Act TP - closest point to despair before rallying for
final battle - where the lawyer, of his daughter, says that his love has
'turned to piss'.   There is no third act battle towards love and
reconciliation.   City of Hope uses truncation into one act and two act
stories, too.  The new palette of effects truncation provides is

Linda Aronson

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