Essays on cinematic narrative. The focus is a set of dynamics collected under the concept of folding, a related system of techniques to model agency and causality.

External Reference

Published: 14 Mar 2014
Revised: 12 Mar 2015

This is perhaps the simplest fold to describe. You have the story in the movie, and you have some other story that you bring to the movie.

Perhaps it is a recent event, like 9-11 which has its own collection of stories. You can build a movie, whose story depends on you reacting in a certain way, whether 9-11 is explicitly referenced or not. An example would be how movies handle terrorists after 9-11.

Or it could be less visceral. Many people saw Cleopatra and read into it the love story of the actors Burton and Taylor. The filmmaker adapted the script daily to help in this.

We have a lot of teen horror movies that reference prior horror movies, all the way back to Dracula and Frankenstein (but oddly not Golem).

Myths and religious iconography are ripe for these folds; the external reference need not be a story per se. It could be a stereotype, all of which by definition are external references. But to be folded, it has to have some narrative structure of situated quality. An example of the latter is any contemporary use of the New Zealand mountains to evoke some qualities of Middle Earth.

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© copyright Ted Goranson, 2014