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.

Italian Storytelling

Published: 15 Mar 2014

The notion is simple.

The kinds of films that exhibit folding have narrative as its first class citizen, being by far the most common class of film. When you focus on narrative, elements of the story themselves become agents within it and things can become complex, engaging and powerful. Noir in all its variations depends on this.

A different way of building a film world is to focus on people, making the personalities the first class citizens. In the usual recipe, these people transcend the constraints of the world we find in the folded case. In narrative-based films, the story's needs are paramount and the people involved — however real and powerful — are at the mercy of those forces.

With personality driven work, the people literally bend the word. They make the narrative, not the other way around. I've called this the Italian tradition, and its main inventors/practitioners are Italian-American filmmakers: Coppola and Scorcese.

This way of building a film has its own vocabulary and dynamics.

What I'm describing here is different than what are called character-driven stories. They are simpler in concept and can fall into many of the categories we are defining. Such stories focus on souls in the world and how they are transformed. This Italian notion is much narrower: the souls define and likely transform the world to some degree.

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© copyright Ted Goranson, 2014