Is the linear narrative in Film dead? Some would have us believe so. In fact, there has always been a tradition within cinema that has leant towards storytelling less linearly. Pulp fiction, Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Line, and Citizen Kane to name but a few. However, in recent years, the ways that we consume Film have been changing. It fact, you could argue that the cultural value of Film is now less about linear storytelling and more about key events, iconic moments, and what these represent to the audience. In fact, this is exactly what the post below will argue for. Read on (or skip to the end, if you like) to find out more.
Movie trailers are one way that most of us consume Film, albeit it a very specific manner. Of course, they have always been about setting the tone of the movie and convincing an audience to give up their time and hard-earned cash to watch the whole thing.
However, recently, how we have consumed trailers has changed in a significant way. No longer are they only the domain of the cinema, or to be tacked onto movie rentals to entice you to your next buy.
In fact, now trailers can often be found all over social media. Especially Youtube, making them easily accessible and repeatable watchable by anyone that wishes to do so. You can even use tutorials like https://setapp.com/how-to/download-youtube-videos to download said trailers and watch them while offline. Something that allows you to keep them for later analysis or even posterity if you so wish.
“Why does this matter?” I hear you cry! Well, it’s because it changes the way that we relate to them. They become less special, and less of an event to experience. It also means those making them have to go bigger than ever before to catch the attention of a somewhat jaded market. Something that means trailers have to focus on the big scenes, action, and most dramatic events.
In fact, it could be argued that some films are designed with trailer-worthy footage in mind, sometimes to the detriment of the linear story itself. Suicide Squad being a prime example of this.
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Where was the movie this trailer suggested we would get to watch?
Another element that would suggest the way we consume Film has shifted is the advent of the visual meme. Example of which you will find at http://www.mtv.com/news/1955911/movie-inspired-memes/. I’m talking about the screenshots from any media including Film that have relatable captions displayed across them.
Of course, such things act as a snapshot, used to convey and articulate feelings, reactions, responses or moods. An act that lifts the image out of its context then uses it for something than it was otherwise intended.
Yes, these things used to be a part of a linear story (in most cases). However, that is no longer what they are being used for or how they are now understood. Something that means some people’s only exposure to the Film in questions may be through this snapshot and not in terms of linear storyline that travels through the entirety of the piece.
In summary, it could be argued that because of the changing ways that we consume Film, linear narratives are less important than they have ever been.
What does this mean for filmmakers in the future? Well, perhaps it means that formulating a scene will be less about the value it adds to the narrative, and more about how it will look when taken out of content. Although, perhaps it also means that if you are willing to take a risk, you don’t always have to conform to traditional linear expectations. Something that means you can surprise and delight your audience in new ways instead. If you have the chutzpah that is…