With the multitude of means of storytelling from video-games, literature, television, plays, songs, poems and of course, cinema, we have collectively become very sophisticated and experienced in our ability to understand fictional representations.
Indeed, storytelling has, for centuries, attempted to find more complex and interesting ways to structure a narrative. One such way is the “story within a story” framing device. This could be: a play within a play; play within a film; TV show within a TV show; a book within a film; film within a film; and so on.
Indeed, Christopher Nolan’s incredibly complex science-fiction heist thriller Inception blew the audience’s mind with a dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream concept; creating an array of stunning framing devices.
A Brief History of Meta-Textual Storytelling
The history of storytelling as illustrated by the Routledge Encyclopaedia of Narrative Theory shows that as far back as the likes of: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, The Arabian Nights, Edgar Allan Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, narratives are framed from various narrator perspectives either through the devices of flashbacks and flash-forwards; stories within stories; or simply changing the narrator.
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