Archive for category Film Theory

Montage, Memory, and Film.


A film consists of a series edits, even films in which there are little to no edits, (like Russian Ark for example), the mind continues to “edit” audio-visual information. As I believed I’ve touched upon earlier, it may be hard, if-not impossible to go into a film with what I would call a “blank slate”. We take information with us to the cinema whether we like it or not, and this information forms our opinion of the film. So if the individual cannot change, from left-right, up-down or center or a myriad of other combinations, how then do we provide universality to our film? Provide the “blank-slate”, or better yet, imagine a graph with an x-axis and a y-axis, these axis’ provide a structure whereby anyone with a set opinion, or schema, can chart themselves on. Now, here’s the kicker, what of the z-axis? My imagination runs wild, because I don’t think the z-axis should be finite, but infinite.

Take the concept of montage above:

A – Thesis

B – Anti-Thesis

C/A – Synthesis/New-Thesis

If “A” is a mirror, and “B” is a mirror, and “C/A” is also a mirror, then what you have is a cinema that becomes an endless hall of mirrors.

This is one possible way to achieve universality within cinema.


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Versatility in Narrative Variables.

When Beginning Sequence creates a Middle Sequence
And from this Middle Sequence an Ending Sequence is created.

How does one film in Narrative Film create:

Create a paradox when all sequences follow?


There must be versatility in the Narrative Variable.


Beginning: Say I’m outside a room with revolving doors. As a Variable Person One walks up from the left, and in through one of the revolving doors, subsequently Variable Person Three walks out the other revolving door and exits to the right. They are both the same and not the same Person.

Middle: From these revolving doors is a circular room from which Variable Person One and Variable Person Two, who is some distance ahead, hug the walls and walk clockwise back toward the revolving door. They to are both the same and not the same Person. As Variable Two Person exits room, Variable Four Person enters. Between Variable Persons One, Two, and Four, they are all the same and not the same person. Variable Four Person hugs the walls and walks clockwise with Variable Person One back toward the revolving door.

End: As Variable Person One reaches revolving door, Variable Person Five enters circular room and begins to hug the walls and walk clockwise back toward the revolving door. Variable Person One once outside exits to his left.

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The MacGuffin in Dualism: Additional Explanation

Q: “What is a MacGuffin, and how does it work?”
A: “A MacGuffin is a plot device which ‘gets the ball rolling’, ultimately this device usually becomes irrelevant. To illustrate how it works, I’ll use the analogy of a ball and time… when time begins in a narrative you have a single ball, this is your initial point of interest, your plot device, but as time goes on, this ball deflates as smaller balls, (actions), are resulting from the primary, deflating ball… at which point, when the narratives time has ended, the primary ball no longer remains and the smaller balls resulting from the initial deflating primary ball merge into an entirely new ball. This new ball is usually the films climatic conclusion, the narratives “duration-end”… but what’s interesting to note is this “new ball” could be considered a new MacGuffin from which another narrative could spring… infinitely, since the ball’s deflation/inflation is always in flux.”


So adding to the “MacGuffin in Dualism” and the recent light shed that MacGuffins can be trigger points to infinite plot loops. I propose this, say you have two MacGuffins circling round each other, each feeding off of each other bringing themselves into their demise AND their existence, infinitely. That to me seems a concept worth investigating.

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The MacGuffin in Dualism.

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.

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The “Phi” Film.



I’ve already proven an “like” infinite concept in film, that of:

Past + Present = Present 
Present + Future = Future
Future + Past = Past 

Loop this as many times as you feel necessary to illustrate said point. But what happens when you add in multiple pasts, presents, and futures?

What I’m imagining is what I’m going to call a “phi” build.


The difference is that the values of the mise-en-scene and editing variables between them grow larger in scale. So that at once, an infinite gradually grows more infinite as the films time span goes on.

So boiling it down into thirds, which I like to do:


This would really work well for a Mystery film for examples because you get a clue which builds upon itself, but the end would be rather ambiguous as to what the “answer” to said clue was.

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The “Multi-Film” Experiment.

A sequence using dialectical montage operates as such:

Sequence = Thesis + Anti-Thesis = Synthesis/New Thesis

But what if we play with this sequence, remove the Anti-Thesis from the equation and create some mystery to the sequence so that  sequence equates to this:

Sequence = Thesis + “X” =Synthesis/New Thesis

So take this in terms of a written scenario:

“A man is walking down the street, when someone from a passing alley mugs and murders this individual, this man falls to his death and the culprit runs away.”

(Note the written format: 1,2,1). Now take out (2):

“A man is walking down the street, this man falls to his death (someone either criminal? or spectator?) runs away.”

By taking out actions in film and having reactions being the point of all action, it leads to the beginnings of the audience having multiple interpretations of a single film… but this is only “part” of a bigger equation to solve. To truly create the “Multi-Film” one must push the use of intercutting to the extreme. So:

Sequence 1 = Interpretation on Sequence, which leads to a possible Sequence 2 & 3.

Interpretations on 2 & 3, intercutted, lead to possible Sequence 4 & 5 & 6 & 7.

Interpretations on 4 & 5 & 6 & 7, intercutted, lead to possible Sequence 8 & 9 & 10 & 11 & 12 & 13 & 14 & 15…

…and continue on this process as long as it can sustain itself.

I believe this is a possible way to achieve this type of film. Though I’ll have to experiment with it…

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Beyond the Outer Limits of Restricted and Omniscient Narration.

Let’s define “Restricted” and “Omniscient” Narration:

Restricted Narration” in film occurs when the film itself is filtered through the eyes of a character.

Omniscient Narration” in film has the aesthetics of many characters and/or no characters but an “auteur’s” vision.

These narratives have been mixed, Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest is an example, but the “mix” comes in “Narrative Gear Shifts” from 1) Restricted, then to 2) to Omniscient, then back to 1) Restricted, etc. What I’m proposing is developing a “Third Narrative Gear” whereby the spectator experiences both narratives simultaneously.  But how is this achieved?

The answer is in the division of “Visual” and “Audio” tracks. Or [V+A].

Say for example we are “Visually” experiencing a “Omniscient Narrative”, [V]. What we juxtapose it with is a “Restricted Narrative” auditory track, separated, but still relevant to the “Visual Track”, or [A]. The results are something uniquely cinematic. We may be “Visually Experiencing” a world through no ones eyes, but out ears tell us something entirely different, that of the mind of a character, perhaps in the visual world of the film, or perhaps outside of it entirely. Of course, this idea is not wholly “new” there is of course “The God’s Perspective” seen in many documentary films, but I think it should be adapted more in the realms of fiction.

The key here, is that since cinema works with both visual and auditory tracks, I think the art of it, what makes it cinema unique, lies mostly in it’s division of “perceptions”, rather than it’s symbiosis. Or perhaps something that exists in flux…

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