Narrators and Narration

Let us talk about Bordwell’s view on narrators. He states that narrative in film should not be understood as being told by a narrator. He argues that it is the organization of a set of cues for the construction of the story. Does it really matter whether we understand narration as being told by a narrator or not? Well, I think if, like Bordwell, we understand that films just provide us with a set of cues with no narrator, an intention on how to interpret the events within the narrative is undermined. If we don’t understand that someone who has a particular point of view is telling the events within the syzueth, we undermine the influence that this point of view has on our understanding of it. If we don’t acknowledge the presence of a narrator or multiple narrators behind film, we undermine the fact that films don’t only tell stories but also want to convey an ideology and morality.

Bordwell would argue that this point of view is not a narrator but a way to give or suppress information subservient to the fabula. However, Bordwell doesn’t mention that this point of view affects how the information is being transmitted and how we receive it.  In Strangers in Paradise the fact that the story is being told from the point of view of immigrants makes us see the events taking place in the syzueth naturally. If that story was told from the point of view of a middle-aged middle class white Caucasian, we would interpret the behavior of the main characters as uncommon. Thus our stand on the fabula differs depending on how it is narrated. How it is narrated is affected by who narrates: the narrator. Thus acknowledging the role of narrator is vital to understand how differently a viewer can experience the same story.

The Narrator sometimes also transmits an ideology alien to the fabula. Borwell argues that the syzueth is strictly used to refer to the fabula. However, he ignores that the narrator many times goes beyond the fabula and convey ideas, which must be interpreted by the viewer. His example of the sequence in October is perfect to understand how the idea of power is built without necessarily giving an input to the fabula. There is a narrator behind that sequence who is asking the viewer to interpret his/her point of view.

Acknowledging the role of the narrator in film is vital to understand how it influences the viewer. As viewers we are not only led to understand a narrative but many times we are guided to have a moral stand on it. This interaction is guided by an omniscient or sometime plural voice, which I call the narrator. Bordwell bases his theory under the expectation that filmmakers work under a set of norms rooted in clear genre’s norms, narrative techniques and stereotypification of characters. He describes the viewer as someone who is used to these conventions and thus comes to watch movies with a set of expectations. ( eg. Expectations about genre, three-act narrative.) Films not always play with genre or narrative expectations and stereotypes; Sometimes films don’t only to cue the viewer to the narrative. Bordwell disregards the existence of films, which want to have a psychological effect on the viewer. In these films the viewer is not only comprehending the narrative but also interpreting it and contextualizing in a broader ideological scope.

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