Tense Options

A bearded old man, an old man with a false beard or an actor in the costume of an old man with a beard.

A few (3 or 4) stories from the amateur narrative fiction film will be in my own project, but retold as text or voice. This requires a number of decisions, which became fully apparent when I began the re-write.

An example; The Last Gift begins with a fade up on an establishing wide shot of a large country house in large grounds, and fades out again. Cut to an interior with a medium shot of a door opening and the butler entering the room.

This describes the film itself, taking nothing for granted but a basic film vernacular, which is one way to retell the story, as is any path through the following;

The film                                             takes place in                       a large country house.
The story                                            took place in                        what appears to be a –
The narrative                                    is set in                                  large country house
The sequence of events                   begins in                               a house just outside –
The tragic sequence of events                                                       Stockport

The film + is set in + what appears to be a large country house = states the visible and makes the film as it has been made (rather than the story that precedes it) the point of reference. Film can be fictional or not, but ‘set in’ suggests a staging. It would mean not correcting any holes in the story where the film itself fails to show what it needs to, although what that missing thing might be is obvious enough to the viewer.

The sequence of events + took place in + a house just outside Stockport = enters into the narrative and does not admit to being a construct of one particular sort or another. Nicely in the past, it has a sense of resolution about it. ‘A house just outside Stockport’ includes information not given in the film itself. I could take this further and expand on numerous aspects of the story that I know, but the film, due to the time in which it was made, cannot. For example, I could include the buildings current use.

There are numerous configurations, some that work in a normal grammatical way, others that jar but do something useful. Without getting lost in semantics I need to decide on the basics such as; to preference the film or the story; to correct or to leave; to further dramatise or to deadpan.

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