Friday, July 30, 2010

Inception & Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: Let's Talk About Alternate Filmic Realities

Even though I think it's obvious, I am going to start off by stating there is no comparison going to be made between Christopher Nolan's Inception and Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. The World in this post. What I want to talk about is each films use of alternate filmic reality's or more specifically making a reality unto itself. Furthermore I want to suggest that these alternate realities are why both these films are outstanding and and how they work successfully in the film.

As I said, what works so successfully in these films are that the worlds in which out protagonists inhabit is entirely alternate to the reality in which we know and live in outside of the theatre.

So let's talk about Inception first. Nolan Nolan Nolan, how I love thee Nolan. I can't help but love this film. Some people think it's exposition heavy, but with a film with such complex nature it become essential to audience enjoyment. Now we know we're in for something when a film dares to tackle the dream world, let alone allow our characters and our narrative inhabit this world for almost 90% of the film. So when we begin to watch the film we've already placed ourselves in a state of suspended belief and allow ourselves to accept more of what we're going to see. But what makes this special also, is that the world in which the characters inhabit outside of the dream, also lives within an alternate reality. The process of extraction in the film, is where our characters enter into the dream of a subject to gain information. This process is something that is known and accepted within the film world outside the dream and so we as an audience accept it straight away. And furthermore once we're in the dream we know anything is possible just by knowing this. Now there is something to be said about an audience knowing the film deals with dream before seeing it. Because as I said we know we're in for something and so our beliefs are suspended before we enter the theatre. Overall to have this alternate reality allows the audience's expectations to be suspended and to allow for a more enjoying experience.

SPOILERS BELOW: Stop reading if you don't want to have the film SPOILED for you.

Now when watching Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, there is a expectation that the film will fall into a reality that is similar to what we know and live in outside the theatre. However as the film begins we are introduced to the alternate reality. What is clever here is that the director knows that once this reality is introduced the audience's beliefs will be suspended and furthermore plays with this once it's set in place. When we first meet Scott, he and his friends are introduced with text boxes, explaining age, or key traits, and character anecdotes. But this is something we've seen before, so Wright goes further and begins to have sounds have text associated with them. So the ringing of the phone, the shutting of a door etc. have text associated with them, usually protruding from the sounds origin, like in comics.(like picture above)  To go even further he begins to associate actions with video game visuals. For example, a moment when Scott has to go to the bathroom a level bar appears in the top right hand corner saying pee and as he pees the level goes down. Now what's special here is, despite all this Wright plays with our audience. So once they've suspended their beliefs and accepted the format of the film's alternate reality the audience begins to be toyed with. A scene that stands out is Scott coming home, he's in a great mood and he's excited about a date he has. As the scene plays out and Scott tells his roommate about his day, an audience track can be heard, they laugh at his jokes, and clap at his triumph etc. However what happens is that Scott's roommate then turns off his wall radio and the audience track stops. Firstly we've melded the lines between diegetic and non-diegetic sound, and then furthermore what the audience thinks is just another feature of our alternate reality is really just a coincidental radio playing within the diegetic space of the scene. To play with diegesis like that so fluidly is quite something to see and I believe this shows just how strong a director Wright is.

Overall both films are great! Each film plays to each of their audiences expectations and deliver. They suspend their beliefs and allows their audiences to wade within an alternate reality where all is wonder and awe. Allowing for a great moviegoing experience. Hope you have a chance to see the films! If you're a film lover they're something to see even if you don't have much interest in the subject matter.

Happy moviegoing!

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