Friday, 1 October 2010

"Why me?"

"You just happened to be there . . ."

As succinct an explanation of love and commitment, as I'm likely to meet. Bollocks tho', innit...

I believe people become engaged in a story by comparing the choices characters make with their own estimation of the circumstances. As an audience, we compare the decision we would have made in the situation with the choice the characters have made. We form affinities and aversions. Becoming involved with made-up characters leads to some sort of self-inspection.

I believe that fiction, when it manages to engage a person, is one of the ways we demolish certain kinds of habits. That's all. I suppose I've used the word fiction in a certain sense. The term "True Fiction" was not just trying to be clever - which it was - but refers to something I had felt quite powerfully about.

I distinguished the activity of fiction from that of making narrative, and even from story. I can tell a story that's not fiction. In a way, I'm doing it now; I'm telling you the story of my career. It's a narrative too; it follows one incident after another in a line. The line may meander, but its still a line.

There are different forms of narrative. But fiction, I thought, was not a different form of narrative. It was a different thing. It was an attempt to engage an audience's attention and cause it to go into two directions at once - at the characters and the situations on the screen, on the one hand, and back at themselves on the other.

Engaged in fiction, I am compelled to continue along the narrative line by virtue of my interest in the character's decisions and the actions those decisions lead to. In other words, we become involved with fiction only when we have achieved a degree of self-consciousness - when a consideration of a character's decisions go hand in hand with a kind of self-inspection.

Hal Hartley, from True Fiction Pictures and Possible Films

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