Tuesday, October 6

Rambling...But There's a Question at the End



It was an odd weekend, mostly because we’re at home instead of at the lake—life is completely different here, in spite of the fact that I work up there just like I do down here. It’s a different vibe here in the city though, and thus, a different vibe at this house as opposed to the lake cottage. In the summer when we’re going back and forth between houses, this place almost becomes a pied-a-terre—just a place to stop by, grab the mail, and mow and then we’re back up to swimming and boating. But as fall sets in, we’re spending more time here and less time at the lake. That’s the natural order of things I think...well, it seems to be for us.

We grocery shopped on Friday, had fire in the fireplace that night, which was lovely, and spent Saturday cleaning out closets and doing fall cleaning upstairs. Right off, who knew I could clean out five closets, end up with four very large bags of clothes, shoes, purses, etc. to take to Goodwill, and still have plenty of stuff to wear this fall and winter? Something tells me that we, like most Americans, have way too much stuff. However, we are now down four bags of stuff, so that’s a start, right?

All this to say that after all the work on Saturday, we settled down to watch a movie, which is also something different about being home as opposed to being at the lake. We don’t have a television at the lake, so when we’re there, we listen to the radio or read or play games or visit with our lake buddies. That makes watching PBS or Netflix a real treat when we here at home. 

Oh, the movie—sorry, I got distracted—was The Age of Adaline, a fascinating little romantic fantasy about a woman who, through a weird set of circumstances is eternally 29 years old. It starred Harrison Ford (how can you lose, right?) and an actress I didn’t know named Blake Lively. She was very good as Adaline and Michael Huisman (Game of Thrones) was romantic and handsome as Ellis, Adaline’s love interest. 

The story is not particularly complicated, so I won’t give you any spoilers, but it made me think about how we writers weave a plot--especially a plot where we are asked to suspend disbelief as deeply as we had to with this one. But as I watched, I thought, what a cool story, and even though I irritated Husband by dissecting the acts and predicting what would happen next, it was still damn fine storytelling. The setup could have been really hard, but the screenwriter and director gave us all we needed to connect the dots and we followed Adaline’s unusual life and felt her pain and fear. Lively’s best scenes were with her daughter, played by Ellen Burstyn, who is always amazing. The daughter/mother dynamic between 82-year-old Burstyn and 28-year-old Lively was well-played and charming to watch.

And here’s the writerly part that got me to thinking, because it’s been a much-debated issue in Showtime’s presentation of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. The Age of Adaline’s director, Lee Toland Krieger, used a voice-over narrator to tell us the story of how Adaline ended up eternally twenty-nine. The movie started with the narration and occasionally, the narration was picked up again throughout the film. So many people hate voice-over narration and honestly, I’m not crazy about it, but this story needed it because Adaline herself didn’t understand why she was different, so that wasn’t going to come out through her character. She only knew she was different, and although we saw how it happened, the why of it became clearer through the narration.

So here’s today’s big question: How do you feel about narration in films? Do voice-overs drive you crazy? Do you wish they’d just shut up and let you figure out the story or does it sometimes add to the experience? Annnnnd...discuss!

14 comments:

  1. I don't mind narration as long as the voice is pleasing. It was something I always liked about "Wonder Years" on TV. Like audiobooks, it's like being read to in a way, and I truly like that.

    Mostly I'm wishing I had five closets. Ah, the joys of living in a nearly 100-year-old house!

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    1. Great point about narration seeming like you're being read to--I love to be read to...my mom read to us until we were all teenagers.

      Yeah, closet space is great, I have to confess!

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  2. I have seen a few versions of "Blade Runner" (starring Harrison Ford... How can you lose?), one with narration and one without. Personally, I like the narration, as it helps me better understand what is going on, especially when I am not familiar with the "world" in which it is set. Or I'm just that dense 😄

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    1. Nope, not dense a bit, Ava! I think sometimes narration can set a scene for us and there's nothing wrong with that--but it's like prologues (this could start an avalanche of comment)--some people love them, others hate them.

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  3. Narration doesn't bother me, I kind of like it when one character or another kind of 'becomes' the narrator to fill in the gaps of what the main character can 'know' at a particular time.

    RadioMan and I purge our closets at least once each year...and every time we swear we won't muck them up again with all that extra 'stuff'. And every year we fill another 2-3 trash bags with stuff and haul it off to good will.

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    1. I like it when a character narrates, too, Kristi--The narrator in The Age of Adaline was sort of an omniscient voice, which bugged just a tiny bit at first, but then I liked him!

      How do we get all the stuff? Well, actually, I kinda know--my sis is a great one for passing on stuff she's done with... ;-)

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  4. I'm okay with narration. Especially if it's Morgan Freeman doing the narrating. ;)

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    1. Yeah, Cheryl, Morgan Freeman can read the White Pages and I'm all in, too!!

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  5. I don't mind the narration. In Outlander, I loved hearing Claire's thoughts. The book is in first person, so this made perfect sense.

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    1. Mary, you are so right! Claire was the natural choice for the voice-overs and honestly, it doesn't bother me, but there was a huge hue and cry about it in Outlander insider circles. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. I don't mind narration depending on the voice and how much they're doing in narration. I hate it when the narration basically takes the place of strong storytelling on the screen. But sometimes you need it.

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    1. You are right, Heidi--voice-overs can't replace a strong story and when it tries, it's generally more annoying than helpful. I guess we don't know until we get into it, but in The Age of Adaline, it worked for me. So glad you stopped by!!

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  7. I saw The Martian today and it had some narration disguised as journal entries in it. And basically, it was important to the plot or we'd all been, "how'd he do that?"

    So, when it's important to the movie, I'm all for it. I'm a big Outlander fan and I think Claire's narrative is crucial to the stories each week.

    And I loved the Age of Adaline. And The Martian was awesome--in case anyone is wondering :)

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