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Nonlinearity and focalisation in Attila Janisch’s Másnap

Tamás Csönge

Abstract

The essay’s aim is to examine the relationship between perspective and nonlinear temporal structure in Attila Janisch’s 2004 film, Másnap, which is loosely based on Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Le Voyeur (1955). My analysis revolves around the understanding of two important narratological distinctions, that between a nonlinear presentation of events and a paradoxical plot, and that between narrative focalizalization and textual focalization. According to David Bordwell, the most widespread definition of linearity is when the successive events of A, B and C are presented in the narrative in their chronological order. Any other form of their presentation results in a nonlinear narrative. But Másnap is a special type of narrative, which highlights the limitation of such traditional dichotomies, because a consistent order of events cannot be reconstructed. Many critics tried to grasp the core of the film’s narrative by trying to put together the original timeline of events, relying on false indicators of logic and coherence, while they failed to recognize the narrative’s real rhetorical purpose in preventing a consistent and unambiguous plot to be established. The narrative’s complexity lies in the fact that both assumptions – that it depicts a subjective experience of time and a storyworld with strange temporality – are necessary to explain the film’s unusual, fragmented structure and interpret its events. I point out how the film requires us to reinterpret the meanings attached to the familiar techniques of continuity editing and how it converts the practices of the early Nouveau Roman, which marginalizes traditional plot-structures, the notion of character, and conventional descriptions of objects, to interact with a subjective vision governed by a fictional mind.

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Published Online: 2018-07-04
Published in Print: 2018-06-28

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