Monday, May 15, 2006

Narrative logic is for the weak


The older I get, the less I think narrative logic is an essential, or even respectable, component in quality drama. I suppose this is one of those things I was supposed to go through when I was pretentious and college age.

Recently I watched the live action Aeon Flux movie as well as rewatching Lucio Fulci's classic The Beyond. Both of these movies function at their best when they largely ignore standard movie narrative logic.

I have not watched the Aeon Flux series since I watched it inconsistently back in the days it ran, although I will be renting the DVD one of these days. The movie got pretty firmly dismissed by audiences and critics. Honestly, I never quite got a grasp on why. It got off to a solid start, creating a strangely organic sci-fi world. No, it didn't make sense, but I certainly don't recollect the series making much sense either. Ultimately, it does kind of pull its threads together and become a pretty standard sci-fi action movie with an overly melodramatic love story.

I certainly can't say I loved it. I'm not sure I can even say I liked it exactly. I certainly didn't hate it, though. I think it would have been much stronger as strange and free-flowing without bothering to shoe-horn logic and structure in. Hell, it couldn't have made it a bigger bomb and then it would at least have bombed with some integrity and hope to becoming a cult classic, enjoyed for years to come.

The Beyond is rather a classic of free-flowing horror. It centers around a hotel in New Orleans with a flooded cellar that seems to mystify everyone. Now you're catching how you need to approach this. In real life, if you're in New Orleans and for some reason your hotel has a cellar and that cellar is flooded, it's most likely because you've dug a cellar well below sea level and not because it contains one of seven doors to Hell.

But that's ok. This movie is about the mood and texture. It functions as a nightmare rather than a proper story, which, if you're kicking back and letting it flow, makes it much more fascinating and frightening than the average Hollywood product.

Here's the thing, structure is not frightening, logic is not fantastic. Horror and fantasy need a certain wonder and unbelievability in order to achieve the emotional effect they're intended to. Too many people have been so weaned on corporate Hollywood product that they no longer consider the escape and wonder part of the experience.

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