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Real to ReelA New Approach to Understanding Realism in Film and TV Fiction$
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Martin Sohn-Rethel

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780993071768

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9780993071768.001.0001

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The Narrative Code of Realism: the case of the ‘multi-strand epic’

The Narrative Code of Realism: the case of the ‘multi-strand epic’

Chapter:
(p.119) 6: The Narrative Code of Realism: the case of the ‘multi-strand epic’
Source:
Real to Reel
Author(s):

Martin Sohn-Rethel

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9780993071768.003.0007

This chapter describes the narrative code of realism. It discusses four films which can be labelled as 'multi-strand epics': Crash (Paul Haggis, 2004), Babel (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2006), Short Cuts (Robert Altman, 1993), and Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999). What unites all these films is their rejection of a unified narrative structure in favour of an organisation closer aligned to the segmented narrative of TV drama. What these movies share, along with the iconoclasm of their narrative code, is a developing, indeed an enveloping empowerment of the discursive code of realism. The chapter asks what happens to the workings of realism when the narrative code, in drawing attention to itself and uncoupling itself from any obvious genre, becomes as it were a player in its own right? And what happens when the code of discursive or ideological truth becomes its compensatory, centralising force?

Keywords:   narrative realism, realism, multi-strand epics, narrative structure, segmented narrative, discursive realism

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