Still Life Film Analysis

1006 Words5 Pages
While there are many ways to interpret the art film Still Life by Lillian Wang, I infer that the son died in a car accident at the father’s hands. This film violates many classical storytelling techniques to demonstrate how death affects those who live with their memory. Three especially impactful techniques are nonlinear plot manipulation, loose causality and calculated plot gaps.
Nonlinear plot manipulation works in two key ways to further the narrative and thematic meaning of this film. First, by commenting on the father’s subjective reality as his mental state suffers post-tragedy. In accordance with Bordwell 's essay, “violations of the classical conceptions of time and space are justified [...] as the subjective reality of complex characters”.
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Certain scenes from the film are also repeated like the conversation about picking up Jeremih or the jump cut of the husband and wife’s kiss goodbye. These scenes are messy and distorted because they are a memory, and not an expression of reality. The jumble of plot points and repeated shots give meaning to the narrative as they express the father’s imperfect yet ever present memory of his family. He constantly thinks about what his life used to be like; and as a result, like the plot, what he perceives to be his reality becomes a chaotic mess. Second, the plot’s discontinuity is an example of authorial expressivity in which the author further communicates the theme of life after death. In one of the final scenes of the film, the father is seen alone in the dark kitchen. He bursts into tears upon seeing the keys sitting on the counter. This impactful scene has immense thematic meaning as it suggests the recurring motif of driving as the cause of the father’s suffering. The inclusion of this scene deviates from the Hollywood norm as it is given no explanation or context, however, the author’s choice to include it suggests that the film
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