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Death and Run Lola Run

What struck me the most while watching Run Lola Run were the deaths. It seems obvious to me that death is treated in Run Lola Run the same way it is in games. In games, you can just reload from your last save point if you die. You can die and die and die and continue to become ‘alive’ again. You can fail at one level until you finally succeed and move onto the next one. I’m just imagining a game in which if you die, you die forever. You have one shot. I doubt it would be successful. Death is avoidable. Death is repeatable. Death in video games is way more in line with what Ndalianis refers to as Neo-Baroque than the Classic model (more open versus closed).

Also, death seems to manifest itself in many different ways in games. In Resident Evil 4, you literally die when zombies kill you; in RPGs, you run out of health points (HP); in Super Mario Bros., you die when you get hit by a creature or fall down a hole. However, death is just one possible ending of a session. In games, death seems to be equated with failure too. In Goldeneye, your session can also end if you fail to complete an objective. In Resident Evil 4, your session can end if the girl you’re trying to protect dies or gets kidnapped. (Also, what precisely is a session? From when you turn the game on to when you turn it off? Here in this post, my use of session means from when you start until you ‘die’).

Death is never final in video games and that is one of the attributes that makes this medium unique from Television and Film. I was thinking about this too: Are video games more like Film or Television? I’ll relate it particularly to one game I played: Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil 4 reminds me of a serial narrative like Lost in a lost of ways. The game is split up into chapters, and those chapters are split into smaller segments, each defined by a save point. This reminds me of a serial narrative in that it is split into episodes, and each episode has its own closed arcs (operating on a episode-episode basis) as well as a progression of information adding to the mythology of the multi-episode arcs (and in Resident Evil 4’s case, arcs that span across the series of games). Also, there seems to be some correlation between the rise of DVDs and games like Resident Evil 4.  When I watched the first season of Lost, I must’ve watched the whole season in two days, watching episode after episode after episode until I was finished. The relationship I see is that DVDs and Video Games allow for more viewer participation. On a DVD, you can pause, you can zoom in, you can rewind, fast-forward, watch certain scenes; you can pick episodes to watch. In a game, particularly Resident Evil, you can save a lot and come back into the game anywhere you want (as long as you have a save point and enough memory on the memory card), generally, you can finish a sequence and then save afterwords, so you can literally play as much or as little as you want. I think what’s important is that the viewer / the player is given the power to choose their interaction with the text.

Cut Scenes and Resident Evil 4

Jesper Juul, in his article, Games Telling Stories?, makes a quick reference to contemporary games’ usage of cinematic cut-scenes: “We should also note that most modern games feature cut-scenes, i.e. passages where the player cannot do anything but most simply watch events unfolding. Cut-scenes typically come in the form of introductions and scenes when the player has completed part of the game.” Over break, I played one of my favorite games of all time, Resident Evil 4, for the eighth or ninth time. It just never gets old. I played it so much that my mom promptly referred to me as “Killer.” If you’re not familiar with the game, it’s a third-person survival/horror game where you are a government agent sent to a remote part of Spain to rescue the daughter of the American president. As it turns out, a religious cult infected the preisdent’s daughter with a contagious viral parasite, with the idea that they will send her back to her father and she will release this parasite onto the US (one reasoning being to stop the US from arrogantly policing the world). In the game, you are the agent and you shoot zombies with very powerful guns.

But beyond the excitement of constantly being on the run from zombies, the game does have many narrative elements, first being a quite complete story that actually adds to the mythology of the preceding Resident Evil games. There are developed characters (from other games in the series, too), the game is presented and broken up into chapters, and Leon, the main character, is your focalizing agent. Now, from reading the articles, calling Leon a focalizing agent may be a misuse of Bordwell and Chatman’s notion of the term, and in much the same way that those two apply literary theory to films and then adjust, apply film theory to games encounters similar problems. Anyway, I want to focus on the cut scenes of Resident Evil 4 and the extent to which many of these cut-scenes emphasize interactivity as opposed to a cut-scene which, for the most part, operates under strictly cinematic terms.


The usual cut scenes I have encountered operate, as I mentioned above, cinematically, meaning that the interactive nature of the game stops and you, the audience AND the player, can sit back and relax while receiving story information. In my head, I’m seeing cut scenes from first-person shooters, like Goldeneye, that are created to look like the scenes are shot cinematically, but also progress the story. The link above is what I find to be an excellent example of how games use, but expand upon, the capabilities of other media.

To begin with, the cut-scene features some pretty nifty “camerawork”. It starts with a tracking shot which turns into a pan around the character (Leon, the protagonist). Then it cuts to a medium shot of Leon turning around (crossing the axis) and then goes to a long shot. Also, this cutscene does advance the story of the game, but also advances the story of the mythology (Krauser was supposed to have died in Resident Evil 2; he’s working for Umbrella: a secret organization developing virus that turn people into zombies). So it is cinematic and fits in with the cut scene’s use in games as Juul states.

What the cut scene here does is provide the user a new level of interaction with the storyworld. First, the button pressing. This is the critical difference. The button pressing obviously forces player involvement; you cannot advance the story unless you press the buttons. If you don’t press the buttons fast enough, the army guy will kill you and you’ll have to try it all over again. Further, it amps up the suspense, which is critical in survival-horror games; the point is to try to incite thrills, fright, and feelings of suspense within the player (trust me, play this game with the lights off after midnight…it is scary). Also, my favorite move, is the button cues that make the player rapidly press one button. For example, at the end of the video, you have to rapidly press A and then B and then A again for the army guy not to stab you in the throat. Also, the music and the camerawork all incite player interaction: as the army guy bears down on you, the camera closes in on the knife and the music heightens, all of which are supposed to make the player mash the buttons faster and with more immediacy. Your character, or, since I find myself often identifying with the character, YOU will die if you do not mash the button fast enough.

Second, a lesser point, but I think it merits some discussion, is that I believe the makers of this game were keenly aware of the lack of player interaction during cut scenes. For example, I must’ve died 5 or 6 times the first time I played through the game because I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that even during the cut scenes, you still had to interact. Also, its suspenseful, because you never know when you’ll have to press buttons during the cut scenes, because most of the cut scenes don’t use that technique. It’s a self-conscious manipulation of a gaming convention adjusted to the survival horror genre, while maintaining its essential storytelling functions.

If you haven’t played this game…it’s good. You should check it out. (They have it for Wii too where you use the WiiMote as the gun).

Narrative Complexity and House

I was searching the web this afternoon and stumbled upon a very interesting article on Cracked.com about the ease of constructing an episode of House. House is a show that fits into Calabrese’s television narrative prototype of “Variation on a theme”. If you read the embedded image below, hopefully you can see how much House works this way (and enjoy a few laughs at this sarcastic and humorous article).Variation on a Theme

The original article can be found on Michael Swain’s blog on Cracked.com:


As I was reading through the three articles that focused primarily on what defines the increasingly common television practice of narratively complex…well, narratives, I found interesting the discussion of what role the viewer occupies within television, particularly within the general framework of Newman’s PTS, Mittell’s concept of Narrative Complexity, and Ndalianis’ use of the “five narrative prototypes.” Each of the articles offer very similar notions of the role of the viewer and I’d like to outline some of those qualities right now.

Newman’s notion that “out of industry constraints comes aesthetic strategies” certainly operates on the level of the viewer. I mean, the primary goal of the television industry is to get people to tune in, and tune in consistently. So, Newman looks at the ways in which these PTS (Prime-Time Serials) are constructed so as to engage the viewer’s attention primarily through compelling characters and the “forging [of] an emotional connection with them.” For example, in episodic “Beats”, the point is to provide new information in order to amplify the viewer’s desire to know more. Another example would be the 4-act structure of television narratives (due to commercial breaks). In order to maintain viewer engagement, techniques such as plot twists and complications, recapping, and repetition all serve the purpose of keeping the viewer tied down to they’re seats, and, as Newman writes, “Rememeber your goal. It’s to pull ’em back from the refrigerator.” So, basically, Newman says that the television industry, one that requires a high level of viewer participation, structures its narratives in a way that maintains interest through gratifying and pleasureful emotional connections to the text.

Ndalianis discussion of the viewer’s role is likely the least comprehensive of the three articles, but she makes an interesting assertion that the rise of serial narratives has followed the rise of global economics, with corporations operating within a captialist system dominated by interactions with “multiple countries and multiple media.” She reckons that viewers are treated as consumers in a media market: the intended goal is to provide the consumer with a product that inspires further consumption (i.e. repeated viewing). More directly dealing with the multiplicity of global economics, Ndalianis asserts that viewers must be more capable of navigating multiple ‘texts’ in order to “give coherence to an individual episode with a series,” or just to give coherence to complex narratives and their multiple storylines that span across a series of episodes. What Ndalianis suggests is that viewers need to learn how to understand the complex narrative structures of the contemporary television serials. She is also suggesting that this is symptomatic of an important global shift, both culturally and societally.

I think that this insistence upon a more active viewer is very much in-line with Mittell’s article and his use of the “operational aesthetic.” The basic idea behind the operational aesthetic is a de-emphasis upon “what will happen?” and an emphasis on “how did he do that?” This notion automatically requires a more active viewer who can simultaneously engage with the storyworld while “marvelling” that its narrative construction. Put succinctly, the shows require a formally aware viewer who can recognize the narrative spectacles being shown before them. Mittell suggests that this style of viewer arises out of 1) fan cultures almost obsessive (maybe too strong of a word) viewing practices, 2) The implementation of time-shifting technologies (TiVo, DVR, DVDs) that place the control, literally and figuratively, in the hands of the viewer, and 3) the accessibility of information via the internet and the formation of a “collective intelligence” of devoted fans (i.e. Lostpedia: a wiki for everything LOST-related). Furthermore, one point Mittell makes concerns these formally aware viewers and their ability to “gain competency in decoding stories.” For example, in LOST, flashbacks are focused upon one character per episode (generally) and are cued by a nifty sound effect. A viewer who watches multiple episodes will recognize this technique and become to comprehend this particular intrinsic norm of the show.

In summary, what I think these three articles succeed in showing is how viewers of these complex serial narratives are formally aware of the spectacle they are seeing (a self-conscious device often used by the show’s collective “implied author”), are actively viewing, and continue to view based upon emotional connections with characters and the engaging question of “how did he do that?” (an engagement with narrative structure). My only question, and this is a very basic one, is how do viewer practices change across media? We’ve watched so many films in this course, how do viewer practices of film differ from those of television? This is a question Ioana and I posed in our discussion questions and I think would be an interesting and logical point to “dive in” to this topic. My sense is that the answer will be quite complex, with some major differences. While not going into too much detail because I am exhausted right now, I imagine that the mode of viewing (theatre vs. TV) affects things.  Roland Barthes talks about how the theatre lulls the spectator into a pre-hypnotic state, which is an affect not often felt in one’s livingroom. However, due to the accessibility of television and films on the internet, as well as, DVDs moving film viewing experiences from the theatre to the TV, film, as well as TV, is experiencing a shift towards more active “viewership.” If an increase in active viewing coorelates with the emergence of more complex narratives, I think that this trend is more evident is TV, but just by thinking about movies that we have seen thus far (particularly Memento and Mulholland Drive), film seems to be moving in that direction. I mean, the revelation that Mulholland Drive was a TV pilot turned film speaks volumes about A) TV’s propensity towards more complex narratives and B) the influence that TV is having on filmic narratives, specifically in Mulholland Drive‘s use of a TV narrative as a subjective representation of events from the mind of a delusional woman (if you wish to believe that theory, which is the simplest to accept, and thus I accept it). In that sense, Mulholland Drive uses the Neo-Baroque idea of open, polycentric format of serial TV, and reverts it into a subjective device of character with the model of Classical, Aristotelian narratives, which are self-contained and closed narratives.

That last paragraph was way more stream of consciousness then I intended, haha. Anyway, just some food for thought.

Mulholland Dr…a few days later

Mulholland Dr. has spurred numerous conversations since we saw the movie that have got me thinking more and more about the genius of this movie. I’ve always been a David Lynch fan (Blue Velvet is one of my favorite movies of all time) and had never successfully made it through the film before our screening, hence, I had never known that the “twist” was going to occur. This film, more than others we’ve seen, has led to many many conversations, and I was thinking about why that is. Why does Mulholland Dr. seem to elicit discussion and conversation days, and probably weeks after its initial viewing? And what are these conversations about?

For me, the conversations were not about interpreting the movie or comprehending the movie, but way more consistently about the experience of viewing the movie and and the question of “How it made me feel?” Once the blue box was opened and we, the spectator, were out of the “dream” world, I was so disoriented by that point that I gave up interpreting and comprehending; I just began experiencing. Since the fabula and syuzhet became incomprehensible, I think that my mind shifted towards an awareness of Bordwell’s notion of style and particularly how this style evoked an emotional response from me so rare, it seems, in contemporary Hollywood films of the present.

I want to talk about my emotional response to the “Winkies” sequence towards the beginning of the film because I feel like that unravels some of issues I want to get at. If I were to rank the scariest moments I’ve had while watching a film, this would rank in the top 5, without a doubt. Why is this moment so scary? The framing narrative about the dream (which cued me to that fact that when the man walked behind Winkies, he was certainly going to see the figure in his nightmares), the pacing, the POV shots, and the inevitability of the homeless-nightmare man sliding out from behind the wall. I also think this moment scared me so much upon first viewing because the film is not a horror film, so all of the schemata and extra-textual knowledge that a spectator comes with is absent. You are not expecting the fright. Think of it in another way: In “The Sixth Sense,” we are taught, from the beginning of the movie, that we are meant to be frightened, and that we’re dealing with death and ghosts, etc… Jumps and bumps and scares are expected. But its not the same way with Mulholland Drive.

My natural inclination upon leaving the screening was to find answers, you know, sort out in my head what actually happened in that movie, and I did find answers. But after having discussions with fellow classmates, why is there such an urge to comprehend the incomprehensible? What has stuck with me the most from this movie are two things: 1) images, details, and very small things that strike me in a way that cannot be described by words. I’m talking about Roland Barthes’ “Third Meaning” or the Impressionist’s notion of Photogenie. That undefinable, mysterious feeling that certain filmic images evoke in a viewer, but a feeling that our language cannot sufficiently explain. For example, ever since the movie, I’ve been thinking about the sequence where the guy spits out his espresso into a napkin. Just something about that sequence transcends the film in a way I can’t explain; you know, I recognize it by negation; my inability to describe it highlights its presence. I found myself feeling this way quite a few times during the film. 2) The second thing that sticks with me still is the overall emotional response I had to the film. I don’t feel like I need to fully comprehend the film, or need to interpret the film to look for meaning; I just need to (as cliche as it sounds) feel the movie and experience it. I found that I was able to separate myself from the fabula and syuzhet and solely let the style guide my experience and guide my emotional responses, and I don’t think that happens a lot. I’m interested to hear if anybody else had similar emotional experiences or if they experienced the film differently that I.

Research Paper Proposal


1. Examine voice-over narration and its uses specific to Film Noir.

2. Examine voice-over narration in Neo-Noir

3. Examine the ways in which Neo-Noir uses voice-over narration (if at all) differently than the status quo Film Noir. Is there more subjective narration? Unreliability from the narrator? How is voice-over narration re-envisioned in Neo-Noir of the 1980s – 2000s and how does voice-over narration function differently in these films? Voice-over Narration, while primarily a narrational tool in Film Noir, also serves as one of many stylistic choices. While this next statement is not a fully formed idea yet, I wonder how Bordwell’s framework of Narration and Syuzhet + Style fits with Film Noir, since one of its distinct tools of narration is also an element of style? I’m not sure if the distinction is worth pursuing further.


I will begin the research paper with a discussion of voice-over narration and narrators in Film Noir. I will explain these terms in their theoretical contexts primarily with the help of Sarah Kozloff’s essay, “Invisible Storytellers: Voice-Over Narration in American Fiction Film.” Terms will include (but are not limited to): homodiegetic, heterodiegetic, embedded narrator, first-person narrator, and Bordwell’s “fabula, syuzhet, and style.”

I also think that a brief explanation of Film Noir (i.e. how the genre formed, generic conventions, when it was prominent) should be included.

1. Kozloff lays out my intentions for the first section of the paper perfectly in a quote from her above essay:

We shall see that [voice-over] narration can serve a variety of functions, including recreating/referring to a novel’s narrative voice, conveying expositional information, and aiding in the presentation of complex chronologies. We shall also see that this type of narration can greatly affect the viewer’s experience of the text by ‘naturalizing’ the source of the narrative, by increasing identification with the characters, by prompting nostalgia, and by stressing the individuality and subjectivity of perception and storytelling.

I wish to use specific examples from quintessential Film Noirs to illustrate only those above qualities of ‘Noir’ narration that will be the most instructive for a comparison between ‘Noir’ and ‘Neo-Noir.’ The films to be used are central to the genre, and I believe that all use voice-over differently: Double Indemnity, Out of the Past, Sunset Boulevard, Mildred Pierce, The Big Sleep. Five films feels like too many; these examples may change once further research is done. Basically, the films that best allow for comparisons between Noir and Neo-Noir will be the ones used. Kozloff notes that in Double Indemnity, the focalizer, Walter Neff, provides voice-over through dictation into a Dictaphone (where as in the novel, Neff writes a memoir). Further, Kozloff notes how Sunset Boulevard uses voice-over in a more self-conscious manner, more so than most noirs. My basic goal of this section is to firmly establish the ways in which voice-over is commonly employed in Film Noir while providing concrete textual examples to highlight these attributes of voice-over narration. Other texts to be used will be J.P. Telotte’s book “Voices in the Dark: The Narrative Patterns of Film Noir,” Ian Cameron’s “The Book of Film Noir,” Mark T. Conrad’s “The Philosophy of Film Noir,” James Naremore’s “More than Night: Film Noir in its Contexts,” and Edward Dimendberg’s “Film Noir and The Spaces of Modernity.”

2. This section serves to examine voice-over in Neo-Noirs and their evolution. To start, a brief explanation of Neo-Noir and its attributes must be given. Admittedly, more research needs to be done to pinpoint Neo-Noir films that employ voice-over narration or other devices that function similarly (i.e., Memento’s black-and-white sequences discussing Sammy Jankis; The Usual Suspect’s framing narrative in the police station). These examples may not work, but what I am primarily interested in is how Film Noir of the 40s and 50s utilized voice-over narration, and then how Neo-Noir re-envisioned those functions of voice-over narration to complement their new style. An interesting case could be Blade Runner, where voice-over was used in the original cut, but in subsequent cuts has been removed. What were the advantages for the voice-over? Did removing them from later cuts diminish the spectator’s understanding of the narrating character and his circumstances? How were those same internal thoughts conveyed without voice-over? Potential films to be looked at include: Chinatown, L.A. Confidential, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Memento, The Usual Suspects, Reservoir Dogs. Including the books mentioned under section 1 above, the book “Neo-Noir: The New Film Noir Style from Psycho to Collateral” by Ronald Schwartz will be used.

3. This section is the least developed of all the sections because further research will need to be conducted. Once the movies are watched and studied, the task of this section is to look at the comparisons between Noir and Neo-Noir (with respect to voice-over and its overall narration) and then make inferences and hypotheses based on the information found. But, as I’ve stated before, I am most interested in examining the ways in which Neo-Noir uses (or doesn’t use) voice-over narration differently than classic Noir.

Hopefully, this description gives a clear, yet vague idea of what I aim to research and uncover via this research paper. Any ideas or insights would be much appreciated.

Pushing Daisies (c) ABC

Let’s put it simply: Leslie and I are in love…with Pushing Daisies, and it was that mutual affection with a quirky show about the pie-maker Ned waking up the dead that brought us together on this project. I think my primary reason for liking the show is how different it is from mainstream TV programming, with the stylized mise-en-scenes, the interesting characters, the unique premise, the blending of the detective genre, and the humor, etc… Enough said.

Like Leslie mentioned in her post, we encountered some technical difficulties, which were frustrating, like spending hours in the library trying to get Snap Z to screen capture with sounds, to spending hours in Axinn using Snap Z, but having files too large to save to the desktop and having to start from scratch. I think that if anything good came from all that trial and error is that I now feel like a professional Snap Z wizard.

So, our basic idea was to take Ned, the innocent, shy, and lonely pie-maker, and make him a devious, calculating murderer (using only the first three episodes). We wanted to to use the story-book, third-person-omniscient-esque narrator and re-edit his narration in order to depict Ned as having been a murderer since his childhood. As Leslie mentioned, we tried to follow the intrinsic norms of the show: for example, beginning with childhood exposition and also employing “The Facts were these” when narrating a murder. Difficulties definitely arose because of editing around the sound, the music, and the dialogue, but I think what was important for Leslie and I was to construct a cohesive narrative solely using editing, that differed remarkably from the show itself.

So, here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWtiNvhbzKw . Enjoy

Protagonist in The Prestige

You know, I’ve thought about this all weekend, and I couldn’t decide my answer to the question posed at the end of class on Thursday (Who is the protagonist?) until I finished reading Bordwell’s “Three Dimensions of Narrative Film.” On page 90, Bordwell lays out a series of statements that generally categorize who a protagonist is; in other words, a set of schemata that spectators intuitively recognize as signifiers of which character is the protagonist. The remainder of this post will focus upon whether Angier or Borden is the protagonist (Cutter’s role in the movie is not un-important, but I see stronger cases for either Angier or Borden and would rather focus my discussion upon those two characters).

Statement 1: “The protagonist may be the character with the greatest power.”

I don’t believe that this statement easily resolves the question. What first comes through my mind is another question, that being “the greatest power…over what?” The greatest power over their craft? Magic? I would say that Borden wins out. He has dedicated his life to being a magician, on stage and off, to an extent that causes his wife’s death, and the eventual death of his twin brother. Angier could be argued the better showman (although this claim can be countered by Borden’s stunt involving Angier’s drunk double), but certainly his reliance upon Cutter for magic, as well as his decision to turn to science (a decision I have literally zero problem with), reveals Borden to be the better Magician.

Further, at the end of the film, it is Borden (arguably, the better Borden: the one who truly loved Sarah, and maybe the innocent Borden in the question of who killed Angier’s wife at the beginning of the film?) who remains alive to take care of his young daughter. Although, it is hard to say who lost more: Borden, who lost a brother and the woman he loved, or Angier, who had to kill himself 100 times. Also, Cutter, in my opinion, was on the side of Borden at the end, having chosen between the better of the two magicians. Also, the ‘power’ held by each magician changes constantly throughout the film. In one scene, Angier sabotages Borden’s act; in another, those roles switch. In one scene, Borden’s Transported Man trick in superior; in another, Angier’s device stumps even Borden (Note: Borden always could figure out Angier’s tricks UNTIL Angier resorted to Tesla’s machine).

All in all, I believe that Borden best fits this definition because he ends the film A) Alive, and B) with some future (his daughter), and C) all the reasons above.

Statement 2: “The Protagonist may also be the character with whom we tend to sympathize most keenly”

This question also is a rather difficult one to answer. I remember the first time I watched the film, I sympathized with Angier’s revenge motive up until it is revealed that Angier, well ‘one’ Angier, was alive while ‘one’ Borden was sentenced to death AND his daughter was in Angier’s custody. I mean, a man’s wife dies due to a stage ‘accident’ and, driven by his grief, he attempts to get revenge. I get that as a motive. But, I believe that Angier takes it too far by sending Borden to his death. Angier is always motivated by revenge and becoming the better magician. I came to sympathize more with Borden at that point, although in many ways, Borden takes it too far as well. He lives his tricks, his art to such an extent that his obsession leads to the death of his wife, a women he loves, and his brother, the “Borden” who, however, when you read his last lines, is truly sorry for what he’d done:

“So… we go alone now. Both of us. Only I don’t have as far to go as you. Go. You were right, I should have left him to his damn trick. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for a lot of things. I’m sorry about Sarah. I didn’t mean to hurt her… I didn’t. You go and live your life in full now, all right? You live for both of us.”

I think that apology, as well as realizing that Angier set Borden up, threw all of my sympathies behind the surviving Borden. Then, I had no problem with Borden killing Angier at the end. Also, I feel like it helped me that Cutter’s sympathies fell towards Borden. So, round two goes to Borden.

Statement 3: “The Protagonist may be the character with whose value system we are assumed to agree.”

In my opinion, I don’t think we as audience are supposed to agree with either Borden or Angier’s value system, but rather Cutter’s value system. I think that Cutter is the most reliable of the three narrators of the film and, like I’ve mentioned above, sympathetic towards Borden and his values. So, Cutter gets this round by a longshot.

Statement 4: “The Protagonist may be the one who is most affected or changed by events.”

My inclination is to give this round to Angier because his wife’s death turns him from a loving husband into a man unstoppable in his quest for revenge. He will kill himself 100 times in order to outwit Borden. It seems like real magic (science) is posited in the negative, while Borden’s honorable magic (that is, honorable to the art itself) is more esteemed and positive. Borden is not willing to take his competition with Angier to the same extent. Also, Angier dies (negative) and Borden lives (positive) and gets his daughter back (positive). I’d say this round goes to Angier.

Statement 5: “One quick measure of how narration can suggest who is a protagonist involves registering how long a character is onstage.”

I have no concrete answer to this statement, although I would assume that Angier and Borden share a very similar amount of time on screen together. Also, if one has more time on screen, it certainly wouldn’t be by an amount large enough to make the decision an easy.

So, overall, I would see Borden as the protagonist, but in a lot of ways, many probably not mentioned here, Angier could also be argued convincingly for the title of protagonist. Lastly, I think that the film purposefully leaves this ambiguous, or maybe another discussion needs to be raised concerning the possibility of dual protagonists here (but maybe somebody did already, and if so, awesome).

Good Ole Barty Fink

After perusing Aaron and Leslie’s blog posts about Barton Fink, particularly Aaron’s point concerning the impossibility of separating the objective fabula from the subjective, I remembered a website that I found when looking for help to uncover the truth behind Barton Fink, and I figured that I would pass it on to the class.  I’ve copied and pasted the link: (titled “A Viewer’s Guide to Barton FInk”) into my blog for easy reading. I guess the connection to the past readings that I made with this article was with regards to George Wilson’s “Transparency and Twist in Narrative Fiction Film” and his discussion of subjective shots and sequences. I think that this article shows how subjective inflection can be conveyed without the use of, say, traditonal POV shots.

Research Paper Ideas

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.

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