Sunday, December 14, 2008

The black knight always triumphs!

Have at you!

I bought The Dark Knight on DVD. I almost never buy DVDs. There are so many movies out there that I haven't seen that I can rarely rationalize buying one I already have seen with the intention of watching it several more times in the future. My eyes were opened by Dr. Noletti at Framingham State who watches hundreds of movies each year. His voracious appetite for films made me realize that if I resigned myself to buying every movie I liked, I would eventually get to that point where anything new might not interest me.

I now try to watch movies whenever I can, and I don't select the movies based on whether or not I think I'll enjoy them. I'm working my way through the American Film Institute's 100 Greatest list in the hopes of at least getting all of those under my belt in the next year.

I watched Audition, a film that explores the vulnerability and trust that love induces. Much of the film is so surreal that I cannot definitively say what was real and what was imagined by the protaginist. I think something might have been lost in translation. Like A Tale of Two Sisters, I get the feeling that Western films have a habit of tying up every single little loose end in a way that foreign films don't. I'm not sure if this is a limitation or an advantage. It certainly limits the kind of narration a film has. In these two films, it seemed we were only seeing what the protagonist saw. There are dream sequences, and it's implied later that the dream sequences were omnipotent episodes in the narration. The protagonist suddenly gets a glimpse of something they were unaware of, or something that has or will happen. So it's not like a break in narration that occurs in Western film that contains an omnipotent aside that the audience is privey to, but not the protagonist.
The audience has all of the same information as the protagonist. This creates a unique sympathy for the protagonist. Yet, my Western-trained mind could help but wonder: What was true in the dream and what wasn't? How and why does this character have psychic dreams?
It's very A Christmas Carol, the ghosts of the past, present and future visit us in our dreams and enlighten us. Yet, it's not explained explicity so. I had to gather after much thought that these surreal, yet truthful, dream sequences are a deus ex machina to the plot that is readliy accepted by the intended (foreign) audience of this film. It relies entirely on the suspension of disbelief. This is difficult to understand coming from a Western-trained viewpoint, where dream sequences almost exclusively deal with the surreal and UNtrue. The protagonist wakes up and we sigh with relief, it was only a dream. It was not real.
In these films when the protagonist wakes up, we are supposed to feel the building fear. Their dream was surreal, but it was the truth. They must now take action based on their dream, and use their new-found knowledge to get a leg up on the antagonist or at least to fully understand the current events.

I would love to conduct a research study on the validity in the contents of dream sequences in movies in different cultures. Perhaps we Westerners don't give our dreams enough credit. Our dreams could be trying to tell us something.

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