Narrative Progression

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By 2017-09-24

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage
Ceylon Today Features

Plot and character development are in fact, not one but two different aspects of a narrative. Some movies focus on one aspect while other movies focus on the other. Rarely does a movie focus on both, but the results of that can be somewhat unpredictable. These are the methods used by writers to move a story forward.

When breaking down how progression is made while keeping a story interesting, the result is a series of objectives and obstacles. The popular Television series True Detective is a great example to this. The protagonists want to move the story forward by discovering clues; which we also desire, while their own personal shortcomings and their enemies come in the way of that, blocking the progression. While True Detective focuses on character progression, narratives from productions such as the anime series Madoka Magica, Hollywood television series WestWorld and even horror manga by artist Junji Ito gives main attention to narrative progression. The characters in the story are unable to change the progression of what happens and is to come, but are engaged in the progression as a part of it; as if they were passengers in a vehicle. Oblivion is an interesting movie because it rarely pays attention to this method and practice. The movie was received with mixed reviews, with some appreciating how the narrative was presented and others criticizing it. The movie was a commercial success with great performances from renowned actors and actresses such as Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough.

Probably one reason why reviewers are in mixed thoughts regarding Oblivion is because of the fact that the movie's narrative disregards both ways of narrative progression and focuses on something different altogether; Spectacle. The movie as a whole is one big spectacle, with panoramic views and gorgeous scenery, slow motion cuts with brief moments of awe, with music scores filled with grandiose and homages to classical art and literature. The entire flow of the movie gives spectacle the primary focus.
There are drawbacks to this method, but any other method wouldn't do justice to the story and the creator's vision.
Oblivion was first conceptualized as an unpublished graphic novel (the adults' version of a comic book) by artist Jose

ph Kosinski. While the original material never made it to the printing press, it was a great way to start the process of pitching to the movie studios. Both Disney and Universal Pictures were excited about the project but Universal Pictures won at the end. Kosinski, who had directed Tron: Legacy previously, got the chance to co-produce and direct the production and his presence is felt throughout the story. While Tron: Legacy and Oblivion are contrasting science fiction movies, they both have the same focus on spectacle that Kosinski maintains as his standard.

There is no such thing as a perfect movie. However, there are movies that are true to their vision; which Oblivion is. It is a well-produced creation worthy of praise and the time spent on watching it.

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