Archive for March, 2014
Hitchcock would say, “In crook stories, it’s the necklace. In spy stories, it’s the papers.” It’s the driving force that gets the narrative going, but ultimately becomes irrelevant towards the films climax. Up until this moment, as far as I am aware, the MacGuffin has been a singular event in cinema’s narrative… but what if this device is a non-singular event?
Visually we take two large orbs, one large orb is black, the other large orb is white. These two large orbs represent our MacGuffins, the central points of interest from which everything else is expanded from, and added to.
What stems from these two large black and white orbs are opposing shades, counterpoints, smaller in size, but more relevant to the films overall narrative. In this way, and this way only, are the black in white points interconnected, it is by their counterpoints. So a black point, would have white counterpoints stemming from it; while the white point had black counterpoints stemming from it in inverse.
I know this all sounds confusing, and might not make much sense at the moment, but allow me to illustrate it in a narrative context. Let’s alter Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo or, if you are unfamiliar with that narrative, imagine A Fistful of Dollars by Sergio Leone, (they are basically the same story). In these stories, you have two warring clans/families living across from one another… that is until a lone man tries to capitalize on their struggles… Ultimately though, what seems to happen when “the lone man” enters the narrative is that the MacGuffin, the plot device, ends up becoming a singular event centered around his desires to obtain cut-throat capital reward.
What seems more interesting to me, is what seems to happen when “the lone man” element is taken out. What happens when we are just left with the two warring clans/families? One family has something, (a plot device, a MacGuffin), that the other family wants. These two families, and more importantly, their plot devices/MacGuffins, represent our large “white and black” points. But what of the small counterpoints stemming from the white and black points? Again, the large black point stems small white points, and the large white point stems small black points. These are ACTIONS committed by the families on one another to achieve the said plot device/MacGuffin. Ultimately, these small, counterpoint actions are more important that the “large black and white” points from which they spring. These actions, however you choose to manipulate them, will determine the course of the narrative. What’s more, since the MacGuffin seems to be a plot device that diminishes in size of importance over the course of the narrative, I’d expect it to maintain the same attributes here. So say we are producing a “warring clans/families” narrative, (without the introduction of “the lone man”), the importance by which say each clan placed value on said MacGuffin/plot device would ultimately diminish and be overshadowed by the actions committed against one another over time.
This is how I see the MacGuffin working in dualism.