Orlando Bloom Killed by Elves

by WE

Not long ago, I watched an old episode of “Midsomer Murders” (Judgement Day, 2000) in which a quite young Orlando Bloom played a womanizer by the name of Peter Drinkwater who was killed by someone living in a house called Lothlorien. Gruesomely. With a pitchfork. (Doesn’t even the name Peter Drinkwater have a slightly Tolkien ring (no pun intended) to it?)

Talking about coincidences: The episode was written by Anthony Horowitz who went on to write “The House of Silk” about an atrocious organisation whose dealings were discovered and put an end to by Sherlock Holmes whose adventures have been very cleverly adapted for a modern TV-version in which Dr. Watson is portrayed by Martin Freeman who also plays Bilbo in “The Hobbit”.

Call that far-fetched? I call it a closed circle!

Unreliable Narrators – Part One: Liars in Retrospect

by WE

[continued from: “Inglourious Basterds”]

An example from the movies. [I am still not sure, who exactly is the narrator in a movie. As a first working hypothesis, I’ll opt for the camera – steered or given its voice, of course, by the screenwriter’s script and the director’s handicraft.]

Remember when you first watched “The Sixth Sense”? [Spoiler warning: If you haven’t seen the movie and still want to, stop reading here and turn to another category.]

Now be honest: Did you at any point suspect that the character played by Bruce Willis was a ghost? Admit it – you didn’t! Like most movie-goers you were utterly taken by surprise when the revelation was made. To be sure, there were some strange scenes. The wedding-day dinner in the restaurant, for example, when you would have expected some kind of scene or mouthed remonstrances from the wife. Or the fact, that the psychologist is never seen talking to the boy’s mother. But the implications of these scenes only become obvious in retrospect. You accept these scenes as just being strange, maybe because the whole film breathes strangeness. Or maybe because you find your prejudices against psychologists and their wives confirmed.

Because the camera in “The Sixth Sense” is a superb liar in retrospect. A liar who leaves clues of his lying all over the film and yet isn’t found out by the audience. It’s the narrator’s triumph in the end to have you go through the film again, trying to find all the clues and wondering if you could (should?) have suspected the truth.

“Inglourious Basterds”

by WE

This is not about the film. Apart from this one mention, the name and work of Quentin Tarantino won’t figure in this text at all. If truth be told, I just don’t feel comfortable about using words like “bastard” – or, come to that, even “basterds” – outside my head, let alone in writing. Notice the abundant use of quotation marks? Yes, I am a bit old-fashioned in that respect. But, hey, it’s okay if it’s a quote, isn’t it? No need to blush!

No, this text is about narrators and the fact that you just can’t  trust some of them. And if you’re feeling tricked into reading this text by a rather crude allusion to a major motion picture – well, take it as a first point in favour of my argument.

We learn at school that it is important to distinguish between the author of a novel or a poem or similar and the narrator. There are, for example, first-person narrators, third-person narrators and omniscient narrators, and they all shouldn’t be confused with the person who gives them a voice. Sometimes the narrator is a human being, sometimes an animal, sometimes the narrator is the material produced by the camera. In fact, with movies it’s a bit more complicated because you not only have the writer of the script but also the director, the leading actor(s) or rather the characters (again something which shouldn’t be confused), the cameraman – who of these people is the narrator?

However, I think one of the most interesting species of narrators are the unreliable ones, the pretenders and fakers, the liars and self-deceivers. Mostly, if they are well-crafted, it’s great fun to find them out.

I’ve given this group of voices some amateurish thoughts and came up with a number of different categories of unreliable authors which I would like to put up for discussion.

Read on: Unreliable Narrators – Part One: Liars in Retrospect

Feel free to comment!

…eating pathologists

by WE

Pathologists who eat their sandwiches in the morgue while explaining the gruesome injuries which led to the victim’s death have been a popular film cliché for quite a long time now. Movie makers, please, it’s time to put it on a shelf somewhere at the very back of the warehouse!