Tag Archives: Reservoir Dogs

Nonlinear narrative – Art of script writing from a different dimension

Nonlinear narrative – Art of script writing from a different dimension

It is good to be back with the Friday Fundas section after a while. This week I would talk about a specific style of script writing known as Non-linear narrative.

Nonlinear narrative is the art of telling a story as a list of events that are not in chronological order. The earliest form of nonlinear narrative in India has been experimented in Mahabharata. While this type of narrative has been popular in novels and stories, it has not been so easy to master this in the films. Only in the year 1924 nonlinear film emerged from French the avant-grade in the film “Entracte”, Dadaïst film by René Claire.

Sometimes people confuse non-linear narrative with films that employ flashback sequences. While you could argue them as nonlinear narratives but they may not be equivalent to narrating events in a non-chronological order. Films like Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa used non-linear narration using flashback that was non-chronological in nature.

In a typical three-act play structure a film has a beginning, middle and the end. A nonlinear narrative also has the same but not necessarily in that order (quoted by Jean-Luc Godrad, French-Swiss filmmaker). In the 1990s Quentin Tarantino employed nonlinear narrative structure in his films like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. This made a huge difference to the viewing experience.

In Indian movies director Maniratnam in his movie Alaipayuthe very well exploited this. The movie used flashbacks and flash forwards and converged at a point, which made a difference to the narration and won many accolades.

In the late 90s entered Christopher Nolan whom I consider as a perfectionist of nonlinear narration. Recently I had seen the movie Following by Nolan. This was his first movie and made in a very small budget. But the nonlinear narration has been used very well. He never uses adages like “3 months ago” or “2 days ago” but cleverly used the hairstyle of the pivotal character and facial scar to differentiate between the timeline of the narratives. The story picks up from three points of a linear narrative and travels in parallel. It is just brilliant. He then went on to make Memento and the Batman series, which also heavily utilized the nonlinear narrative style.

A story becomes very interesting in the way it is told even if it is a same old story, which is been retold. Nonlinear narrative if executed well adds that difference and generates interest levels in the audience. Watch some of the nonlinear narratives mentioned in this article and let me know what you think.

Friday Fundas: Neo-noir films

Neo-noir films

Neo noir films refer to a category of the films that have a dark theme attached to it. The word is derived from the French word noir which means black and neo in Greek means new. These are new black films. These were derived from the film noir genre which was very prevalent between 1940 and 1950. From then on there have been many films which adopted this genre. Neo-noir films are usually characterized by a conflicting antihero who is pressured to take extreme and immoral measures to come out of it. It has a nihilistic angle of seeing negative side of a system or practice which would be normally considered as good. Usually these movies use a shadow effects and are shot in low light.

Hitchcock’s Psycho is an excellent example of a neo noir film. In the modern times Tarantino’s movies like the Reservoir Dogs, Pulp fiction and Kill bill come under this category. Although not many Indian movies have adopted this to a great extent, there have been movies, like Being Cyrus and Aaranya Kaandam which have adopted this genre and have been successful as well.

Friday Fundas: Cult Movie

Cult Movie

Often you hear people referring to certain movies as cult movies or cult classic. What does it signify, what are cult movies? Well there is no definite answer to this as this is largely debated for its classification. However there is a widely accepted definition for a cult movie which we can look at…

A cult movie is normally identified by the audience take on the movie. You would see there is a sub community of people who follow appreciate the movie, recite dialogues from it and watch the movie several times. Such a movie would be classified as a cult movie. Usually the cult movie may not do well at the box office but later through TV viewings it might become popular with a sect of people. However this is not a generalization. There are very popular cult movies in the mainstream cinema as well.

Another stark characteristic of a cult movie is its transgression. The movie does not follow the normal path between the good and the bad, but presents a entirely radical scenario in front of the audience that is beyond their imagination. Sometime the different scenario creates a very disturbing effect that it is difficult to accept for many people and appeals only to sect of people thus eventually becoming a cult classic. Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, Shawsank Redemption,  Gods Must be Crazy are few examples of cult classics which made well in the mainstream cinema as well and appealed to a wider audience.

The 1990 Amitabh Bachchan’s  Agneepath is a cult classic. The Tamil movie Aranya Kaandam released in 2011 can also be classified as a cult classic. The movie was a flop at the box office but gained popularity among a set of people through TV and DVD viewing.