Don't believe his lies

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Volker Ferenz

Don't believe his lies. The unreliable narrator in contemporary American cinema

ISBN 978-3-86821-073-6, 256 S., kt., € 29,50 (2008)

(Focal Point - Arbeiten zur anglistischen und amerikanistischen Medienwissenschaft, Bd. 9)

Until the mid-nineties, unreliable narration wasn't really an issue within film studies. Theorizations of it were vague and filmic examples scarce. However, the arrival of movies such as The Usual Suspects and Fight Club changed this. Suddenly, several viewers and critics alike were speaking of the unreliable narrator in the context of mainstream cinema and felt - more or less - comfortable with directors toying with the unspoken viewing contract.

The aim of this thesis is threefold. In a first step, we will have a close look as to when viewers are likely to resort to the interpretive strategy of unreliable narration. Then, three prime examples of unreliable filmic narration will be examined. Discussing Fight Club, Memento and American Psycho, it will be shown how differently a subjective and, eventually, distorted perspective can be presented on screen. Lastly, we will inspect the cognitive and emotional responses often elicited by the films mentioned above and why they tend to attracted more "sophisticated" viewers. Utilizing a cognitive-cultural approach and focussing on narrative theory, the centre of attention is on the American cinema of the last decade, although, for clarification purposes, a number of films from other eras and countries are examined.

Buchvorschau / Inhaltsverzeichnis (pdf)