Unclear Narrative Style

Currently the concept is moving towards being an unclear journey through our protagonists mind. This is to incite the player into his thought process, and due to his schizophrenic disposition he will most likely change his switch throughout the game between his states of mind. Thus we will have a jumpy/non-linear realisation of the narrative.

To help realise my concept for the story, I am looking at Memento, this is a film by C.Nolan which tells the story of a man suffering from short-term memory loss to gain revenge on the man who he believes killed his wife.

The story happens in stages, which are non-chronological, and cut up in terms of each scene/ part of the narrative. This gives the viewer a mish-mash of information as you are constantly going back and forth within the story. This gives a feeling or insight into the way that the protagonist, Leonard Shelby, is living his life. It is constantly starting over as his memory gets wiped, and he has to restart his thinking processes. This jumpy narrative adds to the frantic and self-depending lifestyle that Leonard has, it gives the viewer some knowledge and confusion over the story and the narrative, which is exactly what Leonard is experiencing within the story. This is quite interesting as it reflects what I would like to achieve with my own narrative, this bond between the player and the character.

The breaking up and backtracking of the film is only one techniques used to inform the viewer of Leonard’s lifestyle. Another key demonstration of this is the overriding obsessive nature of the protagonist. He is very aware that he has short-term memory loss, and the way that he approaches the other characters picks up on this. A notable scene for this is the first time the viewer meets the guy that works on the reception desk at the motel; at this point in time we do not know how long Leonard has been staying at the motel and his reaction to the reception clerk is very confrontational, and suspicious.

Another interesting part of his development as a character is how his relationships with the sub-characters change over the time in the film.

Time heals all wounds, but what if you have no sense of time? – Total Film

He always seems to be aware of everyone, becoming suspicious of them to the point of frantic paranoia. When the female character is introduced within the story, he becomes familiar with her, keeping bits and bobs to remind him of who she is. This relationship becomes a little odd when she starts taking advantage of him, and the viewer loses a connection with Leonard because it is hard to believe that he could be tricked so easily. Then again we don’t fully understand what is going on in his mind, and this is where it gets interesting. Whether it is intentional or not the story starts to confuse the viewer.

The techniques used in Memento aren’t hard to achieve, I just need to consider a clever way to incorporate them into a narrative. This is why Memento works, because of the introduction of Leonard’s condition to the viewer and the pacing of its deterioration; and most importantly the amount of information given to the viewer and the pacing of this information is actually what makes this such a good film.

So, what I need to take from this:

  • A mixed up narrative works, but it will need to be explained to the player/reader.
  • Think about the pacing of the story, keep the player interested.
  • The lack of connection with the protagonist after building up a relationship is sometimes a good thing – consider this for the concept!

References:

Total Film. (2000). Memento Review. Available: http://www.totalfilm.com/reviews/cinema/memento. Last accessed 25/10/2012.

Wise, D. (2000). It’s Unforgettable. Available: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2000/oct/15/features1. Last accessed 25/10/2012.

Momento, 2000. [DVD] Christopher Nolan, United States: Pathe.

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