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Exposition Excision

Shut up shut up shut up
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Produce - in a manner similar to Bruno's teen-friendly edit - versions of films with all expository dialogue and voice-over cut out, leaving the viewer the task of either figuring it out for his or her self or just boggling at the incoherence.

The effect of this would depend entirely on the content and nature of the film in question. For examples, exposition excision on Big Trouble In Little China would do little more than shorten the running time and minimise the Kim Cattrall quotient, whereas to do the same on The Maltese Falcon would result in a series of stills, à la La Jetée, of Bogey taking guns off people and Lorre gibbous of eye.

calum, Jul 24 2009

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       You may laugh, but this is being done by a fundamentalist christian firm in the States. They even cut down Tarantino movies, why bother in the first place?!   

       I'll try to hunt them down and post a link...   

       EDIT - Turns out the firms that were doing this got shut down for copyright infringement.   

       EDIT EDIT - Just reread the idea, and this has nothing to do with censorship, sorry! You're saying just remove all dialogue.
theleopard, Jul 24 2009
  

       Not all dialogue, just the bits that are there to tell the story - and perhaps not just dialogue either, there's plenty of exposition that can be achieved by camera alone.   

       Tarantino is a good example, how might the "Royale with Cheese" dialogue count in terms of exposition; could it be pure, unadulterated dialogue?   

       Similarly, the long, gloriously choreographed opening shots from "The Big Lebowski" scene setting, yes, but exposition? Where does one draw the line?
zen_tom, Jul 24 2009
  

       Where you you want to draw the line? If you're being all Thomas Vinterberg about it you can cut out all dialogue which explains who people are and what they do and their motivations as well as all visual exposition, such as close ups or crash zooms, which will result in jarring editing and complete confusion (yay!) Or, if you're simply fed up being explained to, you can remove all voiceovers, all characters inserted so that things can be explained to them and all dialogue which has as its main purpose explaining the plot or circumstances, leaving a fleshy rump of movie which doesn't treat you like an imbecile child.   

       I suppose this can be achieved in another way: by watching foreign language films with the subtitles off. This approach drastically enhances enjoyment of films by Stephen Chow, by the way.
calum, Jul 24 2009
  

       Isn't this already baked in the films of Paul W Anderson? By contrast, Ingmar Bergman films would end up consisting of just the opening & closing credits.
DrBob, Jul 24 2009
  

       I'd like to have a slider on my remote control - the trouble being that on full, many films (at least those of the action genre) will distil to a series of explosions.
zen_tom, Jul 24 2009
  

       Indeed. Just watch the trailer.
DrBob, Jul 24 2009
  

       With the sound off, so as to miss the gravelly "It was a time of war..." bit.   

       Actually, now that I think about it, almost the entire of There Will Be Blood could be left as is.
calum, Jul 24 2009
  

       Are there special classes at Drama School, do you think, where you can learn to do voice-overs á la James Earl Jones? If not, then there ought to be!
DrBob, Jul 24 2009
  

       ... ! [+]
lurch, Jul 24 2009
  

       It beats incision imposition, but how?   

       There are some awful symmetries in there somewhere.   

       Excision frees up subjective space, whereas incision invades it.
Imposition is unambiguously disempowering to its indirect object, and exposition ought to be empowering to its indirect object, provided that it's done in good faith.
  

       Now, in so far as the excision negates the exposition, and in so far as the idea is seen from the point of view of audience, not of author or director, the foregoing implies that the idea presupposes either that the exposition is not in good faith or that the audience is not interested in being empowered, except in relation to the text itself.   

       So, rebel or couch potato?
pertinax, Jul 24 2009
  

       So—you think you can improve films by removing the expository material?   

       Well, maybe, sometimes, but I'd say, if a film can be improved this way, it would have to be a poorly written/directed/edited film to begin with.   

       It might be a good exercise for a film class though: take a bad film and see if you can improve it by cutting out the bad parts. It would work best, though, if student editors were not limited to removing exposition only.
Jim Bob of Merriam Park, Jul 24 2009
  

       I'd like to see a Monty Python skit about editors trying to decide what's expository in a Monty Python film.
lurch, Jul 24 2009
  

       You could accomplish this by playing a new soundtrack very very loudly such that the original could not be heard. Ideally, the soundtrack would match what was going on in the movie, in a manner akin to that used in Coyote / Roadrunner cartoons, representing in my opinion the platonic form of exposition-free entertainment.
bungston, Jul 24 2009
  

       No; the coyote/roadrunner 'toons often begin with a passage in which the two antagonists are freeze-framed and given mock-Latin scientific labels. What's that if not expositiory?   

       Are you sure your 'platonic' is solid?
pertinax, Jul 25 2009
  

       //the idea presupposes either that the exposition is not in good faith or that the audience is not interested in being empowered, except in relation to the text itself//
Exposition in movies is rarely made in what you could call bad faith, more a state of moneygrubbing faithlessness, with aim being to ensure that the product can be enjoyed from the intellectually disengaged, without fear of said individuals leaving the theatre confused, disgruntled and inclined to speak ill of the product.
  

       Whether the individuals who come together to represent the Audience are looking for any stripe of empowerment or simply a state of comfortably addled passivity will vary from film to film. But at either end of the spectrum, I suspect that the application of Exposition Excision will not be wholly welcomed by such an audience. Therefore, the EE'd film is probably most likely to become a reality either within the remit of a film studies course (as the Hon Memb for Merriam Park avers) or at the hands of a technologically-minded and mischievous member of a commonly stoned peer group.
calum, Jul 27 2009
  

       The middle-French 'mal' of 'Malarmé' means 'unarmed' rather than 'badly armed'. Likewise, the 'mal' of 'Malfoy' might as well mean 'faithlessness' as 'bad faith'.   

       So, what is this lawyerly distinction between bad faith and faithlessness in film-makers?
pertinax, Jul 27 2009
  

       Bad faith, as I understand it, involves an element wilful intent to harm or deceive. Good faith, on the other hand, requires a positive intent (if not deed). Both require some feeling towards the other party, in this case, towards The Audience. However, the mechanics and culture of film production-as- commerical-enterprise are such that it is hard not to come to the conclusion that Hollywood has no feeling whatsoever towards The Audience, no interest in it that is not pecuniary. Without even contempt for The Audience, without any intent towards them, how can bad or good faith apply?
calum, Jul 27 2009
  

       Hmm... but [calum], doesn't that imply that a total psychopath, notoriously indifferent to others as people, *doesn't* act in bad faith... which is a strongly counter-intuitive conclusion. {left hand behind back gets ready for 'no-true-scotsman' move}
pertinax, Jul 27 2009
  

       //Just don't watch patronising films//
This is, alas, almost impossible. There Will Be Blood, mentioned above, is an excellent example of a non-patronising (and excellent) film. But sometimes all I want to see is a bunch of neon-lit kung-fu/Kurt Russell getting hit on the head with a rock, which means that I will have to put up with exposition. I suppose, though that the idea was born of an internalised rant but I thought that I had left the rantiness behind as I considered the consequences of such a policy. I guess the subtitle was poorly chosen.
  

       //that a total psychopath, notoriously indifferent to others as people, *doesn't* act in bad faith//
Yup, that's right in the purely legalistic "lack of mens rea" sense, the purely legal line of reasoning being my now-habital mode of thought.
calum, Jul 27 2009
  

       /You could accomplish this by playing a new soundtrack very very loudly/   

       Considering calum's points, I think that the new soundtrack might be played with headphones to allow the confused and disgruntled to hear the exposition while the unconfused and gruntled rcok out / chortle merrily.
bungston, Jul 27 2009
  

       //what is this lawyerly distinction between bad faith and faithlessness//

To me, bad faith means that you never intended to honour your word/promise/whatever whereas faithlessness implies starting out with an intention but backing out of things at some later stage.
DrBob, Jul 27 2009
  

       Ach, I suppose this is what I get for playing fast and loose with the, um, definitional integrity of existing words (no-one seems to notice when I do this with made up words, though). I was taking faithlessness as "the absense of good and/or bad faith" rather than using it in the sense that I can now see people are used to.
calum, Jul 28 2009
  

       Oh I see. Just a formulaic insurance policy against the film bombing rather than a premeditated mangling of a good concept in order to appeal to the lowest common denominator?
DrBob, Jul 28 2009
  
      
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