Narration in the Fiction Film by David Bordwell - Goodreads
David Bordwell Narration in the Fiction Film PDF Download
If you are interested in learning more about how films tell stories, you might want to read David Bordwell's Narration in the Fiction Film. This book is a classic work of film theory that explores the principles and techniques of narrative representation in cinema. In this article, we will give you an overview of the book's main arguments and insights, and show you how you can download a PDF version of it for free.
david bordwell narration in the fiction film pdf download
Films are not just moving images. They are also stories that engage our imagination and emotions. But how do films create stories? How do they make us care about the characters and events on the screen? How do they manipulate our expectations and surprise us with twists and turns? These are some of the questions that David Bordwell, a renowned film scholar and professor, tries to answer in his book Narration in the Fiction Film.
Who is David Bordwell?
David Bordwell is one of the most influential and prolific film theorists in the world. He has written dozens of books and articles on various aspects of film history, aesthetics, and analysis. He is best known for his work on cognitive film theory, which applies psychological and philosophical concepts to understand how viewers make sense of films. He is also a co-founder of the cinema studies program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he taught for many years.
What is narration in the fiction film?
Narration in the fiction film is the process by which films construct and communicate their stories. Bordwell defines narration as "the moment-by-moment process that guides us in building a story out of a plot" (p. 49). The plot is the set of events and actions that are presented on the screen, while the story is the mental construct that we create as we watch the film. Narration is what shapes our understanding of the plot and helps us infer what is happening off-screen, before or after the film, or inside the characters' minds.
Why is this book important for film studies?
This book is important for film studies because it offers a comprehensive and systematic account of how films use different principles and techniques of narration to create their stories. Bordwell analyzes various aspects of narration, such as causality, time, space, perspective, ambiguity, and self-consciousness. He also compares different modes and styles of narration across different historical periods and genres of cinema. He shows how films can vary their narration to achieve different effects and meanings.
Some Theories of Narration
In this section, Bordwell reviews some existing theories of narration in literature and film, and proposes his own approach based on cognitive psychology. He argues that narration is not a fixed or universal phenomenon, but rather a flexible and variable one that depends on both the film's choices and the viewer's expectations.
Classical narration is the dominant mode of narration in mainstream Hollywood cinema. It is characterized by a clear and coherent plot that follows a causal chain of events, a linear and chronological presentation of time, a consistent and realistic representation of space, and a balanced and objective point of view. Classical narration aims to create a smooth and transparent storytelling that immerses the viewer in the fictional world and guides them to identify with the main characters and their goals.
Art Cinema Narration
Art cinema narration is an alternative mode of narration that emerged in the post-war European cinema. It is characterized by a complex and ambiguous plot that challenges the viewer's understanding, a non-linear and fragmented presentation of time, a discontinuous and subjective representation of space, and an unstable and unreliable point of view. Art cinema narration aims to create a reflexive and expressive storytelling that distances the viewer from the fictional world and invites them to interpret the film's themes and meanings.
Parametric narration is a rare mode of narration that Bordwell identifies in some experimental and avant-garde films. It is characterized by a systematic and consistent use of formal devices, such as editing, camera movement, sound, color, or lighting, to create patterns and contrasts that override or contradict the plot. Parametric narration aims to create a formalistic and aesthetic storytelling that draws attention to the film's medium and structure.
Historical Modes of Narration
In this section, Bordwell traces the evolution and variation of narration in different historical periods and contexts of cinema. He shows how films adapt their narration to suit different audiences, markets, technologies, and artistic movements.
Early Cinema Narration
Early cinema narration refers to the mode of narration that prevailed in the first decades of film history, from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. It is characterized by a simple and episodic plot that relies on external sources of information, such as titles, intertitles, or narrators, to explain the story. Early cinema narration also features a static and frontal presentation of space, a limited and discontinuous presentation of time, and a neutral and omniscient point of view. Early cinema narration reflects the novelty and spectacle of the new medium, as well as its connection to other forms of popular entertainment, such as vaudeville, magic lantern shows, or comic strips.
Hollywood narration refers to the mode of narration that emerged in the classical era of Hollywood cinema, from the 1910s to the 1960s. It is characterized by a sophisticated and integrated plot that uses various techniques of exposition, suspense, surprise, or closure to engage the viewer's interest. Hollywood narration also features a dynamic and coherent presentation of space, a flexible and continuous presentation of time, and a selective and restricted point of view. Hollywood narration reflects the industrial and commercial logic of the studio system, as well as its artistic conventions and genres.
Soviet Montage Narration
Soviet montage narration refers to the mode of narration that developed in the Soviet cinema of the 1920s. It is characterized by a radical and experimental plot that uses editing as a primary tool of expression. Soviet montage narration also features a discontinuous and abstract presentation of space, a dialectical and symbolic presentation of time, and a critical and ideological point of view. Soviet montage narration reflects the political and cultural context of the Russian Revolution, as well as its artistic aspirations and innovations.
Narration and Film Form
In this section, Bordwell examines how films use different elements of film form to create their narratives. He focuses on three main aspects: causality, time, and space.
Narrative causality is the principle by which films establish logical connections between events and actions in their plots. Bordwell argues that narrative causality is not inherent in reality, but rather constructed by films through various devices, such as motivation, goal-oriented behavior, character traits, foreshadowing, or coincidence. Narrative causality helps viewers make sense of the plot and anticipate its outcomes.
Narrative time is the principle by which films manipulate the temporal order, duration, and frequency of events in their plots. Bordwell argues that narrative time is not determined by reality, but rather modified by films through various techniques, such as flashbacks, flash-forwards, ellipses, or repetitions. Narrative time helps viewers create temporal relations between events and understand their significance.
Narrative perspective is the principle by which films determine the point of view from which the plot is presented. Bordwell argues that narrative perspective is not fixed by reality, but rather varied by films through different choices, such as narrator, focalization, voice-over, or subjective camera. Narrative perspective helps viewers identify with or distance themselves from the characters and their situations.
In conclusion, Narration in the Fiction Film is a landmark book that offers a comprehensive and systematic analysis of how films tell stories. It covers various aspects of narration, such as theories, modes, styles, and techniques. It also shows how films adapt their narration to different historical and cultural contexts. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand and appreciate the art and craft of cinematic storytelling.
Here are some frequently asked questions about Narration in the Fiction Film and their answers:
Where can I download a PDF version of the book?
You can download a PDF version of the book for free from the Internet Archive website. Here is the link: https://archive.org/details/narrationinficti0000bord.
When was the book published?
The book was published in 1985 by the University of Wisconsin Press.
Who are some other film theorists that Bordwell cites or criticizes in his book?
Some other film theorists that Bordwell cites or criticizes in his book are André Bazin, Sergei Eisenstein, Christian Metz, Roland Barthes, Jean-Louis Baudry, Noël Carroll, and Edward Branigan.
What are some examples of films that Bordwell analyzes in his book?
Some examples of films that Bordwell analyzes in his book are Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Breathless, 8 1/2, Battleship Potemkin, The Great Train Robbery, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
What are some other books by Bordwell that are related to narration in the fiction film?
Some other books by Bordwell that are related to narration in the fiction film are Poetics of Cinema, The Way Hollywood Tells It, Making Meaning, and The Classical Hollywood Cinema.