Although I am not the greatest admirer of the medium of story telling in arts I will use it to explain the idea of editing/montage in my short – ‘The Three Brothers’.
In the modern cinema there are two types of narratives. First, the traditional one is the linear narrative. The story starts at some point – once upon the time… and it is called the beginning, then protagonist, whoever/whatever it is, travels trough the chain of events, until his/it’s actions in the particular problem of the story riches the end. Linear narrative then is based on one directional time line. As time of the story moves foreword, actions of the protagonist move foreword as well. In other words, in linear narrative, the main character is always older at the end then he/it was in the beginning. The nonlinear narrative on the other hand, is a manner of storytelling in which one directional timeline is no longer useful. The film can start with the end of the story and finish with some events from the middle. A very famous example of nonlinear narrative is “Memento” by Christopher Nolan.
In my attempt to explain what I have done with my film I have to describe those types: linear and nonlinear because there is a certain surprising conclusion that one can discover during the process of a careful research of how the structure is build in both. However, at prima facie those two types differ almost like the fire and water, but through the process of focused decoding of films constructed in those manners it can be learnt that the impression that in the core of their storytelling both are the same. Why? For the reason that the essence of the problem is not how the author tells the story, but what the spectator knows
2about the reality of the story. All the linear and nonlinear narratives are created on the rule that the logic of the reality in which the story happens is the same logic that perceives the audience. Put it bluntly, everybody knows everything. There is none unanswered question left after the screening. The tension of the story is build then upon the proportion what the audience know about the main character, and from that, what can be expected versus surprising in the body of the turning points. At the end everything is then revealed, again everybody knows everything. The Death Star exploded. That’s all Folks! Fin. Finito. The End.
Why am I writing all of that according to the subject, which is ‘editing and montage’? The editing is the core of the nonlinear storytelling. The editing creates the time modules that can be moved all over the timeline of the story in many directions. In the linear narrative editing is just the part of changing the pace, speeding up/slowing down of the action. It is the tool to create ambience or to underline a specific problem. But at the end there is only one directional timeline moving from the past to the future. In nonlinear narrative, besides all of those features, editing becomes a tool of creating senses. It creates the whole suspense, turning points and develops to measures of the new philosophy of the world in which the protagonist exists. Notwithstanding, like I concluded earlier, the logic of both worlds, nonlinear and linear are the same in terms of Wittgenstein’s limits of logical space.
In ‘The Three Brothers’ (and some earlier attempts of mine), I tried to expose the reality, which was not known at all to the observer. The reality in which there were only, like in the police investigation, hints and vague leads. At the end of the
screening with such a type of narration, the viewer would be unable to give the final verdict what was the “engine” of the story, the reality. In other words, between the storyteller and the audience there is not the same one, consensual, logical space anymore. It could be an impression of a more physiological nature, due to a familiar look, but the audience in the end will not be left with a solid proof what was the world they saw.
For my purpose, I call this type of narrative a QUANTUM narrative. I invented this term after reading a few science works concerning the quantum mechanics matter. Particularly the works of John Archibald Wheeler and his quantum delayed choice experiment. My inspirations for QUANTM narrative came also from a non-scientific array, a prose by Walter Abish, GO gaming (traditional Chinese board game for two players) and an album “Out to Lunch” by Eric Dolphy. To continue, what Wheeler predicted was that the reality perceived by people’s senses were not exactly the same reality that people lived in. Going further, the logic that is constructed based on human’s experiences is not valid from the ultimate point of view. The main conclusion then is the people don’t know much about the reality they exist in, and idem per idem, the people don’t know anything at all.
For me the state of don’t know is the basic state of the events. I am not pretending in my storytelling that I know ‘what and why’. How one can construct the film then, with such a limited conditions? This is my problem.
And here comes the editing and montage. I found that those tools, developed through the history of creating the nonlinear narratives, are very useful. By cutting not only the visible story modules, but also the sound modules, mixing them in many different ways, this process can create impression that reality that is shown has all the signs of coherency, but in the same time could be something completely unknown – the pure unknown, yet very familiar. To get that effect, in my opinion, all the core elements of the particular logical space need to be manipulated. The purpose is to find the proper proportion between “matter and antimatter” of the whole language that is being used.
In my case, I was playing with the unity of place and time. Then further, the unity of the personality of the characters, and then finally, uncertainty of the medium through I was talking. For example, Bach music, which was based on idea that working on independent voices created the perfect harmony in the end. In my undertaking, the Bach music, was spoiled by using an imperfect, sloppy performance. There was another sign – in the book ‘Ship of Theseus’ that appeared in the film was the information for the audience to be introduced to some ancient myth, but ‘Ship of Theseus’ would be at the same time a well known paradox of nominalism. I tried to give the impression that everybody was playing with everything, even the brother who lay down on the floor, maybe pretending the death. But in the same time the unity of indoor/outdoor games was corrupted by inconsistent cuts, and almost random montage. Again, edit and montage.