Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Narratives within a Narrative

While reading about narratives in Rayner's chapter entitled, "Narrative," the movie "Stranger Than Fiction" with Will Ferrel, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, and Maggie Gyllenhaal instantly came to mind.  This film includes, and emphasizes, three of the main aspects of a narrative: mode of address, conflict, and the equilbrium->disequilibrium->new equilibrium concepts. Interestingly, this film also incorporates another narrative within the main narrative. 
The film starts off introducing the equilibrium of the story. The main character, Harold Crick, who is an average, middle class, working man with a slight case of OCD. He is an auditor for the IRS sent to audit Ana Pascal (whom he begins to have a crush on). On that same day he begins hearing voices of a woman who is narrating every single aspect of his life. (this would be considered the disequilibrium part) This voice-over is an author writing her book, which is consequently shaping Harold's life. This voice-over not only describes every single aspect of Harold's life, but also serves as the film's mode of address. This "commentary holds the narrative together and develops it." (Rayner) However,  not only does the audience have the privilege to hear it, the main character in the story. This factor opposes Rayner's point that this information "that may not be shared by the rest of the characters on screen...[that] therefore offers us, the audience, privileged information on what is going on," (Rayner) and creates a unique trait for the movie. As the story goes on, Harold learns that he is going to die and frantically tries to figure out how to prevent this. The conflict in this story is that the author, Karen Eifel, must conclude her book with Harold's death in order to create her "masterpiece." Obviously, Harold is at first opposed to this, but then realizes that his death will serve a greater purpose. In the end, the author allows Harold to live by changing her ending, thus resulting in the new equilibrium. 


  1. I've never seen this movie but I love Will Ferrell and your post is making me want to go watch it now! I wonder how he is in a non-Step Brothers/Talladega Nights film.

  2. I liked him in it! It was kind of wierd to see him have a more passive role and not be Ron Burgandy or any of his other characters but he still did a good job. And I love Maggie Gyllenhaal and Dustin Hoffman so it was just a great cast