The literary origins of the cinematic narrator

British Journal of Aesthetics 47 (1):76-94 (2007)

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Abstract
This paper reveals an ulterior motive for insisting on the necessary presence of narrators in film: the desire to fit film into a literary paradigm. Despite important theoretical links between film and literature, the assumption that films must be like novels in always having narrators is unsound. By moving beyond literature in the comparison of narrative media, and focusing specifically on cases of ‘breaking the fourth wall’ in film and theatre, we find that the presence and function of a cinematic narrator depends as much on the features of a specific work as it does on the nature of narrative.
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DOI 10.1093/aesthj/ayl040
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