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Fun Joel's Screenwriting Blog


-- On Screenwriting and Related Topics

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

I moved from NYC to LA in October, 2003. And though I still think NYC is the greatest city in the world, I'm truly loving life here in the City of Angels. I'm a writer, reader, and occasional picture-taker.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

On Frame Stories (not Flashbacks)

I was recently reviewing the comments on this old post. In the end, I never ended up writing the article I referenced there, but the thoughts have grown into one of my new seminars at this year's Expo.

So the comments got me thinking. One or two people mentioned framing stories, differentiating them (correctly) from flashbacks. So I began to think of various films that have used real framing stories, such as Titanic. And for the life of me, I could not think of a film with a framing story that would not have been better off without one. Not that the frame ruined the film entirely, but just that they were unnecessary.

Can any of you think of a film that used a framing story specifically (not flashbacks) to good use. Okay, actually I just now thought of one -- The Princess Bride. Anyone have another?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was gonna say Princess Bride. LOL

3:18 AM  
Blogger E.C. Henry said...

Funjoel, what is "framing?"

I know what a flashback scene is , but am not sure what's meant by "framing stories."

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

4:02 AM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

E.C. (and anyone else who may be confused) -- A Framing Story is an old literary device by which the main story is literally "framed" by a different story. Typically the central story is being "told" by one character in the framing story to another.

Famous literary examples include Frankenstein and Rime of the Ancient Mariner. In Titanic the modern story of the deep sea divers and the older Rose is the framing story for the historic journey. In Princess Bride, the story with Peter Falk and Fred Savage is the framing story.

Hope that helps!

4:10 AM  
Anonymous amitbe said...

well, I think I have one, but its kinda problematic: the usual suspects. it has a frame story disguised as flashbacks, no?

6:09 AM  
Anonymous amitbe said...

what i mean is that the inner story is disguised as a series of flashbacks but its actually a story told by the frame storyteller

6:11 AM  
Anonymous Steve Trimingham said...

There seems to be a Fantasy connection on this one. How about 'Never Ending Story'? That film eventually blends the framing story to the main story.

8:38 AM  
Blogger Joshua said...

Sunset Blvd

6:52 PM  
Blogger Lucy said...

I agree Fun Joel, most framing stories are completely unneccessary but I can think of one that does it well and that's The Company of Wolves.

It's a great framing story 'cos as a re-imagination of LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD it fits perfectly in the "Come closer my child..." fairytale tradition and taps into the nightmarish edge of Brothers Grimm in particular.

The downside? Angela Lansbury plays the grandmother. But you can't have everything.

7:59 PM  
Blogger oneslackmartian said...

It seems like Chariots of Fire was a frame. Funeral. Christian and Jew running in their Sears boxer shorts. Funeral.

You know, isn’t Titanic a frame? Octogenarian. Boat sinks. Octogenarian. Yes?

I know the book Heart of Darkness is a frame story, but I can’t remember if the film adaptation was. Apocalypse Now was not.

But none of those are as obvious as Princess Bride. Which is in-CON-ceivable

OMG, did you say Company of Wolves and GOOD, Lucy? Wasn’t it re-released as Misery Loves Company of Wolves?

12:17 PM  
Blogger oneslackmartian said...

Ah yes, sorry, you identified Titanic as such. I was asleep at the end and couldn't remember if the story returned to this "Rose" character you mention.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Lucy said...

OSM - is your bafflement cos you didn't like Company of Wolves? Or cos I said something was good? If the former, it's AMAZING - yes very dated now but I saw it as a child and without it I would be only half the twisted freak I am now. If the latter - yes, I shock even myself.

3:55 PM  

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