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October 1998, Week 1


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Scott Hutchins <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 1 Oct 1998 13:34:16 -0500
TEXT/PLAIN (106 lines)
My suggestion as to why James Ryan could see the battle in his imagination
is that he had seen combat, so the Omaha Beach section was based on
collective memory and the stories he would have heard about the battle.
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 Tue, 29 Sep 1998, Damian Peter Sutton wrote:
> I think that it should be pointed out, re: narration and tha
> first/third person, that the history of cinema is replete
> with instances of the narration switching from character to
> character, and to leaving characters completely. This is
> shown by the continual use of distanciation and estrangement
> by filmmakers such as Robert Bresson and Jean Luc Godard.
> In this way, narration is structured in Hollywood films by
> its presence in others.
> The argument should not be:
> Why doesn't Spielberg continue with narration through one
> individual? Or give us privileged information beyond the
> character?
> but:
> When Spielberg changes narrator, what is the reason for it,
> and how does this advance the story?
> It's a semantic point, but every film which comes long like
> this sparks the same debate, which only goes to show that
> consistent narrative through a single person is a paradigm
> established partly by its own absence.
> If there are inconsistencies in Spielbergs reasons for the
> change of narrator, (not just the spoken narrator, but the
> character to which the spectator is sutured) then there
> should be sufficient grounds for criticism.
> As to mystery films, Charles Derry's point is apt. If we are
> to continue to believe that film excites the scopophilia of
> the spectator, the generalised pleasure of the investigative
> look, mystery films seem ideal in exciting the audiences
> curiosity in such a way. The investigative look, however,
> still exists in other films, and the device of disguise and
> revelation (what will Ryan be like/act like, when we meet
> him) is apparent in all films. It should surely follow that
> the change in narrator not only keeps the audience
> 'working' to understand, but constantly excites and satiates
> the scopophilic tendencies through the novelty of
> points-of-view.
> Changes in narration like this are best exemplified in
> sequences themselves, and in particular the
> shot-reverse-shot.
> Some S-r-S sequences require the agency of the characters,
> (with the camera over the shoulder) to develop the
> continuity. But in sequences in which the plot places another
> character as the viewer of a spectacle in which the narrator
> is a part, the logical pattern of shots to satisfy the viewer
> is the point-of-view shot from the second character.
> This may sound confusing, so here's an example:
> In the circus scene in Quo Vadis  (LeRoy, 1951), the
> spectator is asked to follow the narrator Marcus, who is
> forced to watch his lover be killed in the circus. The shot
> pattern switches from him, to his lover, to her champion in
> the circus, and the Emperor. Each holds the narration for
> the period of their 'viewpoint'. In fact, the sequence is as
> much about the battle for narration as it is about the fight
> for life/honour.
> (This textual analysis is clumsy, I'm afraid, but I'm a
> little fuzzy)
> It's wrong to place the narration in one character, because
> few filmmakers do it themselve, and most provide the
> narration for the investigative gaze of the spectator to 'act
> as narrator for themselves'.
> ----------------------
> Damian Peter Sutton
> [log in to unmask]
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