The Delayed Story

Can the camera really ‘equate vision with truth?’

Edward Branigan brings up a really interesting argument in his article. Can the camera be the true narration to a film? What I found most intriguing about this argument was when he starts to describe Colin MacCabe’s theory of a “hierarchy of discourses.” He states that, “A hierarchy permits the spectator to make judgments and to measure relative truth moment by moment. At the end of the story, for example, the spectator is finally able to solve all the enigmas of character and action because the structure of disparities responsible for managing the partial truths of the plot becomes known through the camera. Thus one function of a graded hierarchy is to conceal and delay the end of the story presenting the events through ‘less knowledgeable agencies (e.g., characters) at appropriate moments” (Branigan 74).  This really stuck out to me because it reminded me of a television show. I have recently become disgustingly hooked on Dexter, the Showtime series, and I could not help but think of this particular show while reading this. The director consistently creates something much like MacCabe’s argument that Branigan describes. Every single episode concludes with a delay in the story and almost every television drama will continuously draw out the end of the story. What makes Dexter, in my opinion, so brilliantly done is how the camera will draw out the story in itself. I am going to add a particular clip from the show below which I think will show what I mean. If you’re a big Dexter fan and haven’t seen the whole series DO NOT watch the next clip, It’s a big spoiler. If you could care less about the show please take a look at it because the way the camera zooms in on the characters during a particular reaction is a narration in itself.

Dexter

I think this is a really great example of how a camera could really become a narrator in itself and it definitely allows for MaCabe’s theory to really show that the truth becomes known through the camera and that the ending is defiantly delayed especially in television
shows.

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One Response to The Delayed Story

  1. Dana Choit says:

    Sorry apparently this didn’t post before- trying again..

    I really like your use of the Dexter clip, Laura. I think it serves as a great example of as you stated MacCabe’s “delayed ending” as the camera creates suspense as we watch Dexter slowly raise the knife, as the woman enters the room, and as he finally plunges it into the man’s chest. It also brings up Branigan’s question “Do we need to hear what B is saying, or do we learn more by watching A’s behavior, or seeing S’s reaction?(71). He continues, “the following are some non-character sources of knowledge that could be part of the representing of the above event: a musical chord coupled with the expression on a character’s face that ‘tells’ us all we need to know; or a ‘tell-tale’ glance; or, a telephone to A; or a pattern of editing that shows A and B but not at the ‘best possible’ or ‘perfect’ time..” (71). As you stated that the delayed ending seems to be a part of many television shows, I think this lies in the factor that each episode wants to drawn you in, in order to have you “tune in” the following week, to hook you much like a novel should to keep their reader interested and reading.

    In terms of equating vision with truth, I think that the camera has the ability to both provide the audience with “the truth” of a story as well as create intentional fallacy in order to further entice and move an audience. Perhaps, once a film has concluded and all of the “truths” are revealed, the audience already exposed to the film can now see the were and how the truth lies in any shots/moments used to manipulate them in a specific direction.

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