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Non narrative

Related: stream of consciousness - abstract novel, abstract film, abstract art - anti-novel - documentary film - narrative - plotlessness

Key texts: The Destruction of Plot and Narrative (chapter 4 in Vogel's Film as a Subversive Art

The episodic narrative tradition which Aristotle indicates has systematically been subverted in the 20th century modernism. This is particularly true in the experimental cinematic tradition where the folding and reversal of episodic narrative is now a commonplace. Moreover, modernist writers and modernist film directors seem more concerned that plot is an encumbrance to their artistic medium than an assistance. [Sept 2006]

When I first read Laura Mulvey’s essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” the title started me thinking whether there was such a thing as non-narrative cinema, and I guess non-narrative films can be labeled contemplative cinema or cinematical essays.

Another key text concerned with the subversion of conventional narrative and plot is Amos Vogel’s chapter 4 in his Film as a Subversive Art, titled the destruction of plot and narrative, in which he cites writers Kafka, Beckett, Joyce, Burroughs, Proust, Robbe-Grillet, Ionesco, and filmmakers Bresson, Godard, Skolimowski, Bertolucci, Fassbinder, Eistenstein, Man Ray, Richter, Epstein, Brakhage, Peterson, Bartlett, and dadaists and surrealists Tzara, Breton and Bu˝uel. At the end of this chapter, Vogel adds that the commercially successful films are still the ones that employ 19th century plot structures such as Gone with the Wind, The Sound of Music and Love Story.

The complications of defining documentary genres

Narrative serves as the basis for defining fiction film genres, but documentary is traditionally a "non-narrative" form. The narrative-based notions of setting, props, plot, and stock characters serving as the basis for generic definition do not apply. Instead, the key to defining a documentary genre must originate elsewhere. This becomes the challenge because a documentary genre can be determined by its intention or purpose, its subject, and even its style. The end result is a variety of ways to approach defining a documentary genre.

Intention or Purpose
One way to define a documentary film genre is by its intended purpose. In other words, how will the film be used by either the filmmakers or the audience and for what purpose? [...] --http://www.realityfilm.com/study/genredoc.php [Oct 2004]

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