Narrative vs. Montage Essay

This essay has a total of 1100 words and 4 pages.

Narrative vs. Montage


Each film has a distinct purpose associated with it. Whether this purpose is as simple as
teaching children a valuable lesson or as complex as criticizing a society's barriers,
there are explicit goals which must be discerningly conveyed. There are specific elements
to filmmaking which are designed to contribute to the goals set forth when making a film.
Such elements include what would be considered "aesthetics of astonishment," or striking
images, editing conflict and other techniques associated with montage filmmaking. Each of
these techniques imprint a thought or logic on a film - a kind of "watermark" - that
pushes the film itself towards the accomplishment of the original goals. Regardless of the
need for the completion of these "higher goals", a director's ability to keep a viewer's
undivided attention is crucial to the success of a film. Each viewer must remain
fascinated from start to finish by the plot and characters, or he will lose interest in
the film. So, when a film relies on a strong narrative base to keep its audience
captivated, there is little room for variation from the elements which depict the story
best. Striking montage images or techniques, if not carefully placed, can have a tendency
to take the viewer's eye from the progression of the narrative and turn their thought to
something else.

Quite often, montage aspects of a film are deliberately placed to invoke specific thoughts
or feelings. Such techniques can be employed to even go so far as to provide an alternate
connotation to an event than what the average viewer would normally formulate. Parallelism
is a method designed to do just that. This technique allows directors to have his audience
associate a single action or event with a secondary action or event. The Strike parallels
the slaughter of a cow and the execution of factory workers to generate a deeper emotion
than one would normally associate with murder. The audience does not view the execution as
merely mass murder, but instead they compare the soldiers to a butcher and connect the
murder itself to something heartless and revolting - a slaughter. The Strike seems to
tastefully use this method to strengthen the purpose of the film itself: a criticism of
murder and execution. There is, however a fine line between what is tasteful and what is
not. If this technique is used either too often or for too long in a single segment, the
viewer no longer associates the two with each other. Rather, the viewer then sees two
separate events taking place, and may even wonder why the secondary event is even a part
of the scene. If this occurs, the montage element no longer strengthens the film's
essence, and the narrative element deteriorates. Eisenstein notes that "This method may
decay pathologically if the essential viewpoint - the emotional dynamisation of the
material - gets lost. Then it ossifies into lifeless literary symbolism and stylistic
mannerism" (FTC 37). Many other directors agree, and parallelism is a technique seldom
used in films today.

One alternative to parallelism is conflict. Despite the opposing contexts of the words
themselves, conflict has just as much potential to be a major contributor to the
accomplishment of the goals associated with any given film. Conflict in lighting, for
example can depict a clash of thought or emotion within a scene. Since the amount of light
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