Thursday, December 21, 2006

Narrative nailed dead

AdaptationNicholas Cage, as Charlie Kaufman, dares to ask a fictional Robert McKee a question in Adaptation, written by Charlie Kaufman and (ahem) Donald Kaufman, adapted (kinda) from a book by Susan Orlean, directed by Spike Jonze.

In The Guardian, playwright Steve Waters takes aim at screenwriting guru Robert McKee.
The most lethal fallout from McKee's approach comes in his proposition that good stories must be engineered in advance like municipal car parks, thus ushering in the stultifying world of 80-page story treatments where the improvised life of the narrative is nailed dead before a line of dialogue is written.

And this is not simply about fiction; I heard a TV producer admit that story is now colonising narrative history; and where the facts don't fit the template they are simply set aside. In the recent BBC docu-drama on the history of Rome it became apparent that the life and times of Emperor Augustus didn't conform to the demands of story to make the series: where was his third act crisis?

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