Film and narrative
in Beginning film studies (second edition)
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This chapter acknowledges the centrality of narrative to the aesthetics and economics of film industries globally. Thus, while an early part of this chapter considers non- or even anti-narrative strands of cinema (these ranging from the early ‘cinema of attractions’ to surrealist and other avant-garde experimentation), the majority of its space is dedicated to exploring and evaluating key aspects of cinematic storytelling. Successive sections consider analytical approaches to character (particularly formalist and cognitivist strategies), to cinematic staging of time, and to endings in cinema. The last of the substantive sections is devoted to ‘narrative and power’: who, exactly, narrates a film, and with what worldly consequences? To test the adequacy and usefulness of those approaches to narrative presented earlier in the chapter, the case study that follows is of the form taken by storytelling in Inception (2010).

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