Tuesday, September 21, 2010

. . . Cont'd

It’s the writer/director’s prerogative to choose the symbols and symbolic action; at the same time, one shouldn’t forget that television and advertising has inculcated the present-day audiences to refuse manipulative symbols or over-earnest metaphors for want of conviction and tangibility. Metaphoric settings, acts, and objects need to be natural and drawn from the world in which the characters live. If they are portrayed as forced they seem artificial and distant.

Mostly in cinema the magic lies in the possibilities of expressing the inner experience of central characters through an array of chosen settings, objects and atmospheres. These elements function metaphorically or symbolically as channels to deeper issues. This’s the scope screenwriters have to foresee while developing metaphoric clues and settings.

An amazing example of blending metaphor into cinematic conflict is in Jane Campion’s The Piano (1993): Ada, a young, mute immigrant, arrives with her illicit daughter and her piano in 19th century New Zealand. Her intention is to marry a person she doesn’t know or probably love; and the man doesn’t much appreciate her piano either. As eventually, the piano is kept at another man’s house, the latter makes her life warm and instills internal promise and solace, and she submits herself to that man, irrespective of her husband existing.

In this particular world of the story the environment is unavoidably cruel, and love strangled by respectability, expression beyond language, and the soul connected with music and censored sensuality. How otherwise can you define a better work of metaphor?

And when characters play metaphorical roles in an allegory, the writer has to show his craft to typify each character and allocate each character with an archetypal uniqueness. These are very efficient to explain character depths and their worlds. Developing the backdrops and the conflicts typified by metaphors will help the writer-director to explain to actors how you want each to play their role and why.

Paul Cox’s Cactus (1985) portrays “the developing relationship between an angry and desperate woman losing her sight and a withdrawn young man who is already blind. The man makes refuge a cactus house, and she visits him there to see what he can tell her about her fate. The cacti are dry, hostile, and spiky, but also phallic, and the setting becomes emblematic of his predicament. In a sexually charged world, he has turned his back on intimacy and intends to survive self-punitively in a place devoid of tenderness and nourishment.”

Coming back to the basic question—metaphoric conflict—my answer is, as long as the metaphor induces the conflict or the metaphor is more inducing than anything else to provoke the conflict better, then metaphoric conflict is the choice. As a Screenwriter, I’m of the opinion that metaphor is NOT more important than conflict, in the screenplay.


guru said...

Thanks Sir for an eloborated and clearly crafted explanation. In an article by Elizibeth English, a citation of the short film "The unique oneness of christian savage" helped me to understand the concept of conflict better with the directors choice of representation of conflict as a metaphor.

lamiss ibrahim said...


Post a Comment