Posted by: lee E. | October 14, 2012


So, the word Verfremdung really funny.  Brecht, I imagine, wasn’t.  I’m all for Marxism, but I’ve been scratching my head about this “estrangement effect.”  As I understand it, for Brecht it was all about breaking the fourth wall—Characters often (apparently very often) directly addressed the audience to purposefully draw attention to the constructed nature of the story.

I’ve seen films that do this, and with non-linear editing techniques they can prove to be pretty cool in a ‘heady’ sorta way.  But to say estrangement has more value as a teaching tool than narrative seems a stretch.  For one, if I’m not invested in a character, I don’t care what decisions they make.  For another, if I’m continually pulled out of the story by a narrator, I tend to want that narrator to die.

I usually don’t find myself so wrapped up in a story that I forget right from wrong or lose my critical thinking abilities—to imply that the masses are incapable of same seems like a bit of a short sell for a Marxist.  And surely there must be better ways of pushing a social agenda for the common man than avant-garde theater (!)

Are documentaries our “new” hope for delivering entertainment as a call to action? I hope not, because from 1995-current, they’ve only made up 1.08% of the movie market share.
What are some realistic ways to deliver narrative as a call to action that doesn’t have the added bonus of sucking the fun out of it?

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