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This weeks readings about reliable versus unreliable narrators and the idea of the ‘cinematic narrator’ have gotten me thinking about the films of David Lynch, especially his later films Lost Highway, Mullholland Dr. (which we will be watching in a few weeks), and INLAND EMPIRE.They seem pertinent to this discussion¬†about reliable vs. unreliable narrators because they all seem to throw the idea of narrative reliability out the window. None of the above mentioned films make a ton of narrative sense, and the idea of a “cinematic narrator” becomes problematic as well because, I would argue, that Lynch himself becomes a cinematic narrator of sorts. There is such a wealth of interesting material in Lynch’s later work and also a wealth of material that seems to run counter to much of the critical readings of this past week that it definitely raises an interesting question about how narration does work in these films, especially when it comes to the reliability of the narrative. These questions of narrative reliability also bring up interesting points to consider about exactly what we can conceive of as reliable in the films, if we can’t trust that there will be ANY kind of narrative coherence or reliability what can we trust? This might best be considered as two related but distinct questions, but does this complete unreliability leave us with nothing but a film full of signifiers with no signified? In other words, are we left with scenes that have no meaning beyond their existence, and if so what does this mean for traditional narrative storytelling?

Some of this material might be covered in a few weeks when we watch Mullholland Dr. but if not this is certainly an interesting topic to consider exploring.

One Response to “Research paper topic idea #2”

  1. Jason – I think this is a good topic which goes beyond what we’ll be reading in the coming weeks. Definitely look ahead to Murphy’s chapter on MD, and Bordwell’s chapter on art cinema, as these are key touchstones to reference. There’s a good deal of scholarship on Lynch that you can build on as well. Good luck!

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