There is an old adage that sometimes, “one cannot see the forest for the trees.” This saying may be a s true in the entertainment media as in world politics. The focus of film even in its most basic sense of conveying the basic impulses of human relationships has become increasingly Globalized. Wherein the melting pot theory so long being prevalent within the United States serving as a guarantor of box office popularity has been coming up flat as of late. Hollywood can offer believable destruction on an epic scale but their pedantic storytelling needs to extend itself beyond the usual longstanding plot point cliches to embrace viewpoints that are often widely divergent. That is why new faces rising to prominence are slowly taking hold of a changing marketplace.
A case in point is an upcoming release of an Indie production based upon a short story first aired here on this site called, “The Old Columbarium” (see the October14, 2013 post), that chronicled a day in the life of a contemporary character unconsciously at the end of their emotional rope in terms of unwittingly heading towards a rendezvous with death. This is not an unusual Gothic oriented metaphor for so many classic stories or contemporary Hollywood screenplays. E.A. Poe and H.P. Lovecraft excelled in their time in creating memorable tales from this genre that they were initially responsible for creating. Robert Bloch reformulated the genre of the macabre tale in the 1950’s which gave inspiration to a new generation of horror with Alfred Hitchcock’s, 1960 ground breaker “Psycho” mixing a bit of Arthur Miller, style “The Crucible” morality plus modern psychology. The initial first draft transition of “The Old Columbarium” was faithful to the events painted int he original story but lacking in reason and rhyme for explaining the main character’s despair. This fact sending it upon the rocks of defaulting to the same old Hollywood ‘non-explanations‘ for what to expect next in terms of the corresponding brand of genre it evoked given the tastes of the viewer. Though the imagination of the audience is not doubt the most important contributor to any successful cinematic tale, it cannot alone stand in for what the writer is trying to accomplish that make them both unique and desirable to read or view over any other. The ‘fifties‘ Film Noir never ending cascade of ‘B’ level productions attesting to an extreme example of this sort of situation. There can only be so many Raymond Chandler’s or Howard Hawks! What is needed to bring freshness is an outside point of view with some cinematic experience to back it up and get the more elusive points properly defined.
“The Old Columbarium” in terms of its successive development came to a crossroads when a fresh new talent brought a fresher perspective from outside the box. Prabir Chowdhury, a writer/director of other American based Indie film themes that were far afield of those of his native India was brought in for story advice. The missing element of creating an empathetic back story by exchanging the first person viewpoint of the narrative to the central focus of an identifiable central character of Raymond was the first order of business in this discussion. Where the initial draft dealt with a primary avatar as an ethereal presence that approximated an anonymous version of an ‘everyman‘, the successive 2nd draft shifted focus to a very definable and identifiable contemporary figure who unconsciously embodies the modern curse of mindless ‘entitlement‘. Several peripheral 3rd party situations not directly related to the character were initially injected to embody his mindset for the audience. Additional characters were designated to serve as foils, adversaries and conflicted love interests in a manner that demonstrates the growing reveal of the main protagonist’s fundamental personality flaws. The style of the narrative was shifted to a point of view similar to one as illustrated within his own work in so many of his own productions by creating an audience template of character interaction serving to provide the pieces of a puzzle through their varied nature of their own personal dramas exposed within the larger narrative. These additional characters adding contrast to the reclusiveness of the central character of Raymond. This switch from first person to a portrait painted in many different colors, removing the tale from simply being just another cartoon of good versus evil, the hero saved in the last minute of the last reel through the introduction of a Deus Ex Machina .
The resultant decentralization of the narrative leading to an audience experience going beyond just adding dramatic context to color to the first enigmatic scene that might otherwise defy precise explanation if seen only from the first person as to whether what is being viewed is a suicide attempt?; another occasion of solipsistic acting out?; or something initially unexpected beyond same. The underlying context behind the larger story serving to illuminate the primary point that to accommodate normal identity as being extraordinary for face value within a modern Global focused society is no longer acceptable. The unfortunate downfall of the drama’s central character as appreciated from these many views exposing time honored concepts of personal dynasty nothing more than thin easily disposable veneers subject to the weathering of change. This major shift of narrative focus coming by way of the collaboration with a talented representative of an emerging competitive cultural viewpoint succinctly putting punch into what would have otherwise become a transparent add what you want J-E-L-L-O presentation.