Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction

Watched Stranger Than Fiction last night for the first time - strangely intelligent, satisfying and funny and sad all at the same time. What struck me (besides Dustin Hoffman's appearance - he does seem to edge towards existential films) was the use of the narrator. Normally I hate these as they give away too much. The medium of film is about the imagery not the dialogue or some narrator giving away all the meaning (a la one version of Blade Runner, or that film with Kate Winslet - Little Children).

Stranger Than Fiction needs to use it, and does so just as you'd expect, however, I liked it - I liked its use of imagery, the personification of the watch, the quirky nature it brought to Crick and on the narrator herself.

And I especially liked this bit:

I'm being followed by a woman's voice.

They just stare at each other for a momment.

Okay. What is she saying?

She's... she's narrating.

Harold. You're standing at the water
cooler. What is she narrating?

I... I... I had to stop filing.
Watch. Listen. Listen.

Harold continues to organize papers into files.

The sound the paper made against the
folder had the same tone as a wave
scraping against sand. And when
Harold thought about it, he listened
to enough waves every day to
constitute what he imagined to be a
deep and endless ocean...

Harold stops organizing the papers. He turns to Dave.

Did you hear that?

You mean, you filing?

No. The... the... The voice.


[Oh God]... Dave it's, it's, it's...
The frightening part is that sometimes
do imagine a deep and endless ocean.

Aside from how brilliant I think this extract is (and the to-and-fro of the script between narrator and Harold) the narrator's dialogue acts as a brilliant narrative show-don't-tell. This alludes to how very unhappy Harold is in his life, how his job goes forever on - which leads very nicely to the conclusion.

It is that kind of immediate narrative description that I'm beginning to pick out of Murakami's writing: pick up the theme, deliver it succinctly with a nice ole simile or metaphor, relate it to the character and move on.

Note: Script extract from available script at SimplyScripts.com

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