fantastic Cinema : dissonance and narrative

Depending on the point of view that translates to the camera, a story can sometimes take detours surprising. Here are a few examples of what may be termed “dissonance narrative”.

Have you ever wondered where were the images that you see in a movie ? We all know for a fact that they are the result of an artistic company, where an assembly complements a shooting; some connoisseurs of the medium are the same in ability to explain plan by plan the techniques used to arrive at such a result. But have you ever wondered what justified in the diegesis (inside the universe of the story) the presence of these images on the screen ?

In our everyday life, we accept to hear a word and then make the share of things in his speech, from the moment we identified who was the issuer. However, we do not perceive systematically the works of art with the same critical approach. We assume as a convention is established, a stream of images can be projected on a screen in order to deliver us a story, without it being previously mentioned in the formal framework delineating this story in his point of view, its dramaturgy, and the rules inherent to the universe. We ask, for example, not necessarily the question of how a book can “speak to us”, or how can be explained the concept of the omniscient narrator, and even less how he was able to accumulate as much information on the story told. A book, it speaks for itself. In the same way a film speaks to us, through the stream of consciousness of his images.


As we will see with the various films mentioned, the choice of point of view can affect the interpretation of a scene, but may also redefine the entire temporality of a narrative. In order to better understand the (or) bias on the part of the narrative in a film, it is important to distinguish two notions, namely, that from the point of view of guiding the narrative, and from the point of view guiding camera.

Thus, a story may focus on the events experienced by a particular character, a protagonist, and an account of his emotion; for all that the camera not be a replacement for the eye of this character. For example, in the It Follows de David Robert Mitchell, we follow the plot from the point of view of Jay, but the heroine appears on the screen as if the camera-narrator spoke of her in the third person.

However, a filmmaker may choose a subjective point of view to place the camera, for reasons both aesthetic and logical vis-à-vis the dramaturgy, and make us live the events through the eyes of a character. This choice may cover the whole of a film, as is the case in Maniac de Franck Khalfoun where the frame corresponds to the field of view of a serial killer, during an hour twenty-five minutes. In the same vein, the principle of found footage such as Cannibal Holocaust or REC, will follow the same rules with regard to the framework and cutting, with the difference that their images do not correspond to those perceived directly by a human eye, but would be more considered as “parts to convictions”, taken from a camera, we thus informing on the formal framework of the subject film, to the extent that the circumstances of his existence.

If the large family of found footage is quite enlarged in the last ten years, it should not be forgotten that the subjective point of view of a camera does not necessarily a vocation to cover the total duration of the film. This process can concern only one or more sequence specific, as evidenced by Strange Days of Kathryn Bigelow. In this polar cyberpunk, the scenes in a subjective camera correspond to the clips recorded from the cortex of various characters. The traffic of these clips in a Los Angeles futurist serving as the main plot in Strange Days, we can say that here the process is integrated to the plot and the universe of the story.

Among the scenes the cult of the cinema of terror, we can cite the first few minutes of Halloweenwhere John Carpenter is filming a massacre from the point of view of Michael Myers, the masked killer. The viewer feels more than ever the choices imposed by a filmmaker, without the possibility of escape from the horrible spectacle on which his gaze is fixed. Such as the killer trapped in his impulse deadly, we assist helpless to the events while sharing by empathy a part of his guilt. The process also allows to preserve the identity of the killer, and will become one of the codes out of the slasher. Here this code is all the more justified as it reinforces the shock of the revelation, which concludes the sequence, to know that Michael is still a child when this occurs trauma founder of its criminal nature.

The subjective point of view can go back to several moments in a film, and complete the process narrative. This is the case of the Peeping tom of Michael Powell, where plans adopting to the times, the place of the character of Mark and that of the lens of his camera, we put them in a position of empathy embarrassing, while questioning our own impulses, by establishing a parallel between the position of the voyeur, and our position as spectator.

The bias of the camera’s subjective point of view can also be used to enrich the cultural context in which a work has been developed, as much as the one in which unfolds the narrative. Thus, in The Prey, the filmmaker Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego offers a framing mimicking the first-person perspective of a video games says first person shooter, in order to locate the characters of teenagers snipers in the cultural references that merges with their view of reality.

If he is a master of the genre cinema that has been associated for forty years to the subjective point of view, it is well to Dario Argento, ready to develop a technical device ambitious for the time of a scene, as evidenced by his giallo Opera. The camera follows the gaze of a raven circling in the interior of an opera; the motion is that of a pendulum, focusing down on the spectator that he will attack. It therefore follows the trajectory of the bird of bad omen, symbolizing the fate if embattant in this kind of story criminal, savoring the seconds leading up to the revelation of the choice of his victim. Beyond the technical prowess of the sequence-shot, we see here the moment of poetry macabre issued by the maestro Argento, who trace by the visual link between the thriller and the fantastic, instilling the idea of the presence of insidious, a depth inhabited in the setting of a higher authority hovering over the plot, governing the arise of the death.

In Dario Argento, the bias of the subjective point of view can also be used to preserve the mystery of a plot, and thereby participate in the fun red herrings and truths that are truncated, such that the public expected of a crime novel. In The Chills of anguish, one discovers the first crime scene since the place of Marcus, the main character; we do not, therefore, from the outset of all the elements concerning the murder committed, and will therefore have to make our place as a spectator was in charge of the investigation at the same time as Marcus. Also, as the investigator, we discover that there is a difference critical difference between what we believe to have seen, and what was actually there before our eyes. Not to spoiler totally the end of the story, I would just say that what you have glimpsed through the eyes of Marcus as a simple table, there was perhaps not a…


The viewer perceives in the “dissonances-narrative” proposed by Dario Argento, on the question of the place of an objective reality within a story. Thus, the world in pictures would be, above all, a projection of expectations, doubts and the ramblings of the protagonist that we follow the point of view. We have seen with the examples above that these dissonances brought, therefore, an interpretation of the events, while integrating in the temporal continuity of their stories. However, this effect of dissonance, interpretation, multiple-choice event, can manifest itself in one and the same scene, and disrupt the temporality and linear logic of a narrative, as is evidenced Shining of Stanley Kubrick. In a memorable scene, the character of Jack crosses the threshold of the famous chamber 237, and ventured into the bathroom where a mysterious woman waits for him. The camera follows the gaze of Jack, and so discover at the same time as him, the unknown that comes out of the tub to come and kiss her. At the beginning of the scene, the woman appears young, beautiful, evanescent; after the kiss, she is suddenly become old, hideous, the body in putrefaction. The scene opens and closes with the same framing, the same point of view of Jack, yet we can perceive two contrasting visions of the mysterious woman and two possible interpretations of the kiss by Jack (a version quite sensual, the other much less ragoutante.)

If Kubrick uses the temporality of an entire scene to show the views of the mind of its protagonist while deforming space-time (the female body aging and decaying of a second to the other), other filmmakers are content with a few images of fragmentary cleverly placed, to disorient the public. Many critics have referred to as Gus Van Sant’s to cheat when he presented Psycho as a remake faithful to the plan near the classic ofAlfred Hitchcock. Indeed, it is enough to compare the two films to see the differences in the cutting; and among these differences, an addition to jumps especially in the eyes of the viewer attentive in spite of its brevity. When Norman grabbed a table by the wall to watch Marion undressing in the bedroom-side, an image comes to intrude stealthily in the middle of the show voyeuristic seen through the eyes of the mentally ill, namely, the vision of a cow, in the middle of the road, in the rain. Here is a strange fragment authorised by the assembly, which gives us a glimpse into the psyche confusing the killer’s schizophrenic.

This kind of visions, sometimes symbolic, sometimes surreal, is generally located outside of the space-time of the story, out of continuity, linear; so we can interpret these visions as annexes to these stories, and a supplement of soul aesthetic as much as the state of mind of the film. One of the best examples of this kind of appendix to the poetic is found in Blade Runner, in which occurs the appearance of a unicorn galloping in slow motion in the forest. While the film of Ridley Scott takes place in a futuristic world where some androids have revolted against their human creators; it is disturbing to note that this is the unicorn dream, which comes to be the skepticism and the questioning of metaphysics of Philip K. Dick, the author of the original novel. Where does this vision ? Is an element programmed into the memory of the androids ? A reminiscence of a golden age past in the minds of humans ? A dream that emanates from the film itself ? A film can he put the dream in the middle of the story he is trying to tell us ? Anyway, this unicorn still exists today as one of the most enduring images of the film of Scott, thirty-five years after its release.

When we look at a film, we accept the set of conventions that allows us to believe in this time-space including four-twenty-ten, a hundred and twenty or one hundred and eighty minutes. We accept that this space-time is enclosed by an end and a beginning, so that we do not necessarily have our own space-time so defined, in terms of the succession of the stories and trajectories dramaturgic readable. A dissonance narrative in a story can just highlight the trials of a filmmaker for this space-time, while provoking questions in the viewer, as to the consciousness in which the camera seems good. Think about-we always plot the side characters ? we revel us by anticipation of future events, with the complicity of the guilty ? Or let us look at the set of a look remote, as the god of the ants ?

In the same way that it is possible to conceive of two realities superimposed on our world, the one elaborated by our brain and the one from which escapes to the brain; the filmmakers invite us to consider their film with two levels of reality, the one depicted from a conscience that is internal to the narrative, the other an interview with beyond the limits of this consciousness. We take awareness of the possible presence of a gaze that govern the acts on the screen : is it our own consciousness of the viewer, projected in the artwork ? That of the director ? Or the need for this work to be completed by itself, by a floor of metaphysics ? Responding to the creed cartesian “I think therefore I am” with “I am seen, therefore I am”. If we were to individually establish a mapping of our brain, in our perception of the world around,in addition to our extrapolations to a wider universe, our thoughts parallel, our points of view in a row, our memories and our dreams. It would seem that a film can be endowed with a spirit as complex.



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