chapter  21
8 Pages

Dramatic Voice/Narrative Voice

David Burdwell notes that maintstream film subordinates everything to narrative causality and character motivation. “In Hollywood cinema, a specific sort of narrative causality operates as the dominant, making temporal and spatial systems vehicles for it.”1 These subordinated temporal and spatial systems-the actual elements of film language-are rendered transparent by the functioning of a conventional structure that creates the illusion that the story would happen exactly the same way regardless of whether the camera were there. Most of our dramatic concerns-the plausibility of motivation, the consistency of character, the avoidance of overt coincidence, the construction of a believable backstory-come out of the conceit that we are spying on a preexisting event. As we discussed in Chapter 2, this conceit is deeply embedded in 19th-century notions of realism and naturalism, and, like the restorative three-act structure, can be traced back to the well-made play.2