Disjunctive Narration: The Essay Film’s Thinking and Epistolarity as Argumentation
Aiming to offer an insight into the essay film’s discursive structures and disjunctive method, this paper focuses on narration, including such aspects as the use of specific narrative structures, narrators and point of view, temporal organization, and textual rhythm. Setting off from the consideration that narration and argumentation are closely linked, and objecting to the view that narrative is merely a fictional layer superimposed on the essay’s nonfictional core, this paper explores some of the ways in which narration may be said to be a key component of the essay film’s thinking. In particular, epistolarity will be investigated as an example of the range of narrative forms on which the essay film may draw. The long-standing tradition of the epistolary essay will be explored via an engagement with a recent case study, Lettres de Panduranga (Letters from Panduranga, 2015) by Nguyễn Trinh Thi. Ultimately, the paper is an investigation into the fragility that is intrinsic to the essay form, into its potentiality for disassemblage – seen as the distinctive feature of its practice of cinematic thinking.
Laura Rascaroli is Professor of Film and Screen Media at University College Cork, Ireland. She is the author and editor of several volumes, including The Personal Camera: Subjective Cinema and the Essay Film (2009), Crossing New Europe: Postmodern Travel and the European Road Movie (2006), co-written with Ewa Mazierska, and Antonioni: Centenary Essays (2011), co-edited with John David Rhodes. Her work has been translated into several languages, including Chinese, Italian, Polish, and Spanish. Her new book on the essay film will be published by Oxford University Press in 2017. She is General Editor of Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media.