Storytelling in Film and Television

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Harvard University Press, 2003 - Performing Arts - 172 pages
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Derided as simple, dismissed as inferior to film, famously characterized as a vast wasteland, television nonetheless exerts an undeniable, apparently inescapable power in our culture. The secret of television's success may well lie in the remarkable narrative complexities underlying its seeming simplicity, complexities Kristin Thompson unmasks in this engaging analysis of the narrative workings of television and film.

After first looking at the narrative techniques the two media share, Thompson focuses on the specific challenges that series television presents and the tactics writers have devised to meet them--tactics that sustain interest and maintain sense across multiple plots and subplots and in spite of frequent interruptions as well as weeklong and seasonal breaks. Beyond adapting the techniques of film, Thompson argues, television has wrought its own changes in traditional narrative form. Drawing on classics of film and television, as well as recent and current series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Sopranos, and The Simpsons, she shows how adaptations, sequels, series, and sagas have altered long-standing notions of closure and single authorship. And in a comparison of David Lynch's Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, she asks whether there can be an "art television" comparable to the more familiar "art cinema."

 

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Contents

Theory and Practice in Screenwriting
36
Adaptations
74
The Strange Cases of David Lynch
106
Notes
143
Index
169
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Kristin Thompson is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds a master's degree in film from the University of Iowa and a doctorate in film from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has published "Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible: A Neoformalist Analysis" (Princeton University Press, 1981), "Exporting Entertainment: America in the World Film Market 1907-1934" (British Film Institute, 1985), "Breaking the Glass Armor: Neoformalist Film Analysis" (Princeton University Press, 1988), "Wooster Proposes, Jeeves Disposes, or, Le Mot Juste" (James H. Heineman, 1992), "Storytelling in the New Hollywood: Understanding Classical Narrative Technique" (Harvard University Press, 1999), "Storytelling in Film and Television" (Harvard University Press, 2003), "Herr Lubitsch Goes to Hollywood: German and American Film after World War I" (Amsterdam University Press, 2005), and "The Frodo Franchise: The Lord of the Rings and Modern Hollywood" (University of California Press, 2007). She blogs with David at www.davidbordwell.net/blog. She maintains her own blog, "The Frodo Franchise," at www.kristinthompson.net/blog. In her spare time she studies Egyptology.

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