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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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Post-Script: The ‘Counter-Realism’ Code of Institutional Constraint

Post-Script: The ‘Counter-Realism’ Code of Institutional Constraint

(p.217) Post-Script: The ‘Counter-Realism’ Code of Institutional Constraint
Real to Reel

Martin Sohn-Rethel

Liverpool University Press

This chapter reflects on the 'counter-realism' code of institutional constraint. In terms of audience understandings, the 'counter-realist' code of institutional constraint is engaged, for example, when spectators assure themselves that a lead character cannot die before the last reel — precisely because they are played by a highly paid star. For producers, the code implies that the profit principle militates in favour of rounded stories with feel-good endings and against films where film makers forsake the safe and familiar and take audiences into new territory. The 'true story' genre seems to provide a firm basis for debating the effects of 'institutional constraint' on realism and truth. The chapter then considers a pair of 'true story' films: In The Name Of The Father (Jim Sheridan, 1993) and Erin Brokovich (Steven Soderbergh, 2000).

Keywords:   counter-realism, institutional constraint, feel-good movies, realism, truth, true story genre, true story films, In The Name Of The Father, Erin Brokovich

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