chapter  3
19 Pages

Morals for Method

Finally, questions can also always be raised about the relations between the information that the audience progressively acquires concerning dramatic issues in the film and the information that one or several characters is shown to possess about the same topic. In other words, our epistemic alignment with the characters may vary from case to case. A number of different kinds of relation are possible here, and there are a number of different ways in which the narrative can set them up. As a rule, the audience enjoys an epistemic position superior to that of the fictional agents. The perception of these agents, after all, is confined within a line of narrative action which they cannot survey. However, this advantage may exist in limited respects only, and, in more extreme cases, no significant audience privilege may exist. Once again, the assumptions that underlie these relations of proximity to and distance from the characters help to shape the total way in which they enter the appraising spectator's consciousness. These are examples of questions about the epistemic authority of the film narration. We often can give a general characterization of the kinds of facts about the narrative which the narration is authorized to show, or we can specify certain signifcant overall constraints that exist upon the way in which that range of facts is shown. The remarks above concern themselves with the authority of the narration defined in relation to the situation of the characters, but, as we shall see, other poles of definition may be used as well.