23 December 2006

15 Park Avenue: fragmented narrative

The fictional landscape in a fragmented narrative has been an experiment with post-modern writers and filmmakers for many years. The European school with writers like Umberto Eco and Italo Calvino, as well as filmmakers like Jacques Rivette of the French New Wave and, later, David Lynch from the US, are all masters of this narrative technique.

In the fragmented narrative, mastering the interplay between reality and dream, weaving the plot around the characters, is not an easy task and requires a special virtuosity. Since the presentation of the fictional landscape is a subjective one, often directly connected to the mind of the characters in the story/film, many of the stories/scripts deal with situations where the characters themselves create the fictional landscape. David Lynch’s ‘Mulholland Drive’ (see my previous post) is a perfect example of this where the plot shifts seamlessly between dream and reality.

In India, earlier this year, filmmaker Aparna Sen had used this technique in her film ‘15 Park Avenue’ – an exploration of schizophrenia in a young woman. I found the film quite insightful (and informative) as it dealt not only with a schizophrenic person, with the usual interplay of dream and reality happening all around her, but the film also presented the emotions and reactions of the onlookers – the schizophrenic person’s family and friends – which was another version of the reality. The question, of which version is the reality and which version is the dream, was masterfully handled by Aparna Sen… right till the end.

Of course, some confusion remains.

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