September 11, 2008

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Delicatessen is a good film. More than that though, it is a good narrative.

One of things I was most impressed by was how quickly I accepted the world of Delicatessen for what it was. I didn’t question the plausibility of the situation, and the characters appeared realistic as individuals operating within that fantastic world. The most interesting aspect though, revealed itself when I tried to summarize the film to my suitemates. I was half-way through rambling about a community of tenants led by a butcher that have turned to cannibalism to survive in a sort of post-apocalyptic society when I trailed off at their expressions. One of them politely clarified that I watched this film for a class. I realized that a simple summary (at least as I told it) of the film’s events sounds horrible, like some sort of low-budget, straight-to-video, waste of celluloid.

So standing there, sounding like an idiot in front my friends, I started to fully appreciate the full scope of narrative, that is, how a narrative is not simply the story per se, but rather a complex compilation of performance, visual elements, etc. that establish tone, create mood, and indeed conjure up a whole new world. Now that I write this, it all sounds obvious, but it took a crazed, post-apocalyptic group of cannibals to make me start to understand the distinction. That’s a good narrative.

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