Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Narrative Form/Structure - The Usual Suspects

Conventional storytelling has a set structure of beginning, middle, and end, however, they do not always happen in this order. The Usual Suspects is one such example.

The film opens as the main protagonist lays dying, waiting to be executed. In the context of the story this takes place just as the climax has come to a close and the credits are minutes from rolling. The basis of the story is a small time criminal named Verbal Kint, who while waiting to make bail, recounts the story of how himself and a group of criminals ended up at the scene of a major heist gone awry, resulting in the death of all his colleagues and the men they were there to kill. As a result of the Kint recounting the previous six weeks to the detective in the police station, the films narrative makes use of constant flashbacks that are used to reveal how the heist came about and subsequently goes wrong. Cutting back and forth between the past and present, Kint offers perspective into the mental make up of his partners in crime and each of their motives for taking place in the job at hand. This constant flashing back and forth from the past to present day allows the film to move at a brisk pace, while at the same time offering the viewers a chance to understand the complexity of the situation and what each of the criminals have at stake.

By using these flashbacks to flesh out the story, the film not only finds a unique way of grasping the audiences attention, but also a unique twist in how conventional storytelling is able to be altered in film for the sake of it’s story structure.

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