This week’s short films depicted interestingly complex stories that differed from Aristotle’s definition of plot structure.
“…Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is complete, and whole, and of a certain magnitude… A whole is that which has a beginning, a middle, and an end.” (Poetics, pg. 14).
Whereas Aristotle described stories having a core conflict that creates the story, these films dive much deeper to where the audience might question what the story is trying to tell. They do, however, maintain the ability to tell detailed stories in a fraction of the time.
Meshes of the Afternoon was the first film I chose to watch, and boy was it a mind-bender. This psychological thriller of sorts depicts a woman navigating her own thoughts in a dream loop that ultimately ends in her demise. This short film makes use of visual storytelling through repeating scenes. There is no dialogue and no clear description of the central conflict. On top of this, there are elements of a narrative structure in the form of Freytag’s Pyramid. Throughout this story, there seems to be an internal struggle with the woman as she wanders through these time loops in her dream. Each loop adds another piece to the puzzle, or another step up and down on the pyramid. At one point, there are three different versions of the woman sitting around a table, occupying the same space. Each version appeared to be a personality type of the woman represented by their hand/facial gestures as the camera focused on them. This scene solidified my theory that this woman is facing an internal battle. A knife is shown throughout the film as well and it progressively gets closer to the woman to where she’s seen holding the knife in various loops. When a man is introduced, assumingly a partner to the woman, she stabs the man with the knife who in turn changes to a mirror, shattering to pieces on the ground. This scene could represent the climax of Freytag’s Pyramid and it seems to suggest the idea that she’s a victim of domestic abuse, or at the very least extremely unhappy with her relationship. Lastly, leaning towards the catastrophe of the pyramid, the man comes home to find the woman passed away on a chair, surrounded by mirror shrapnel. Each of these scenes utilize visual elements to progress the story without any sort of dialogue to guide the audience, in turn it makes the story unique in that it’s really left to the audience to decide on what’s happening.
I found the film 160 Characters to be immensely interesting through its combination of text, narrative, and visual storytelling. The utilization of these elements evokes emotions from the audience while we interpret how the main character is feeling as she narrates her life through her texts and interactions with J. The conflict too comes from these narrations and text messages as we learn J is primarily leaving V to deal with their, but really her, newborn son.
Thanks for reading!