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By Sarah Kozloff

"Let me inform you a story," every one movie turns out to provide silently as its establishing frames hit the display. yet occasionally the movie reveals a voice—an off-screen narrator—for all or a part of the tale. From Wuthering Heights and Double Indemnity to Annie Hall and Platoon, voice-over narration has been an essential component of yankee movies.

Through examples from motion pictures equivalent to How eco-friendly used to be My Valley, All approximately Eve, The bare City, and Barry Lyndon, Sarah Kozloff examines and analyzes voice-over narration. She refutes the assumptions that phrases should still merely play a minimum position in movie, that "showing" is more suitable to "telling," or that the method is inescapably authoritarian (the "voice of god"). She questions the typical notion that voice-over is a literary procedure via tracing its origins within the silent period and via highlighting the impression of radio, documentaries, and tv. She explores how first-person or third-person narration relatively impacts a movie, by way of style conventions, viewer id, time and nostalgia, subjectivity, and reliability. In end she argues that voice-over raises film's capability for intimacy and complex irony.

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Extra resources for Invisible Storytellers: Voice-Over Narration in American Fiction Film

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The direct influence of radio narration on certain films will be apparent as we proceed. In general, radio provided filmmakers with examples of all flavors of oral narration—folksy, authoritative, poetic, and bland—and of complicated narrative structures. It also showed film how to bring a novel's narrative voice to life, rather than simply mining the text for plot and characters. Moreover, given the fact that lecturers, interfiles, and documentary commentators practically always narrated in the third person, other than novels themselves, radio was the cinema's major role-model for first-person narration.

Are there aesthetic merit points lor doing things the hard way? If using voice-over allows one to include important exteriors, as it does in The Naked C/fy's use of scenes shot on the noisy streets of New York, so much the better. Another advantage voice-over offers is its ability to rectify mistakes. Even in big-budget features, because it is added during post-production, when the filmmakers may have identified any troubles with the rough cut's continuity, intelligibility, or tone, voice-over can be used as last-minute patchwork.

5 Yet in the later silent era the pendulum swung in the other direction. Critical wisdom decreed that "The fewer words printed on the screen the better. . "'' At the very end of the silent era, film grammar and audience familiarity with that 26 Ancestors, Influences, and Development grammar had developed to the point where a film as satisfying as F. W. Murnau's The Last Laugh (1924) could eschew titles, but this was a late and rare development. 7 Thus, far from verbal narration being a belated and supplemental addition to the cinema, from film's earliest days it was regularly interleaved with dramatic action.

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