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The first idea that came to mind directly relates to the readings we’ve had to read for this week’s class: Voice-over narration in Film Noirs and Neo-noirs.  I conceived of this idea before reading the Kozloff article and then realizing that on the first page of his article he basically outlines the type of paper I probably would’ve leaned towards writing. Sweet. But, perhaps a specific application of Kozloff’s theory to the genre of film-noir and its eventual hybrids. Perhaps there exist fundamental differences between film-noir’s usage of the voice-over and its possible reinvisioning in many neo-noir films? How does French New-Wave use voice-over differently in its use of the film-noir genre? I keep thinking about the movie Blade Runner where the original theatrical version used voice-over, but the director’s cut eliminated it. In what ways did the voice-over hinder the narrating of the fabula? There are more questions than answers at this point, but I think that further, detailed research on this subject could find some interesting and instructive results.

My second idea deals with how the notion of star power and other transtextual motivations affect the spectator. For example, I remember seeing M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening and how I could not accept Mark Wahlberg’s “nice” character when all other movies that I have seen starring him have cast him as a “bad” guy. I was unable to separate my knowledge of Mark Wahlberg and his prior film work from a different type of character he was portraying. Also, I came into watching the film knowing that Shyamalan consistently throws ‘twists’ into his films, and when one didn’t appear in its conventional sense, I was a little bit disappointed. I’m not sure how much critical literature there is out there on this phenomenon, but perhaps I could take a more general stance and investigate how all forms of paratextual and transtextual information cues the spectator towards and understanding of a film even before seeing it? Coming back to the example of The Happening, how did the trailers, the promotions, the website, etc… all communicate aspects of the fabula? What aspects were presented? Why? Why are aspects left out of trailers? These are basic questions, I know, but hopefully they can lead me to discover the nuances of paratextuality and allow me to incorporate all that we know so far about narration, fabula, syuzhet, and style into an analysis of said elements.

One Response to “Research Paper Ideas”

  1. Scott – these are both good ideas. A lot has been written on stardom as a film phenomenon, but not too much that I know of on narrative comprehension & its relationship to stardom. You can think about it when it’s an actor playing against type, or drawing upon well-known associations with previous characters. I think the key is to explore a specific example where the “star text” is an important framework for narrative comprehension – I’m not sure the Wahlberg example works fully.

    The voice-over topic seems more promising – the chapter of Kozloff is from her full book on the topic, and I think looking at films with unusual use of VO would be good. Blade Runner offers a good comparison, and you should definitely check out Badlands, which she mentions. In noir, it is interesting in terms of reliability, identification, and focalization – examples like Sunset Boulevard are particularly intriguing, as are other examples of questionable reliability. Good luck!

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