Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Torso Torques
I was kind of annoyed by a Film Programme discussion the other week with Stephen Woolley, the producer of The Crying Game. The thing that annoyed me was this discussion of the film's famous twist:

We started the campaign [not to reveal the ‘twist’] in the UK. I wrote a personal note to all the film critics when the film was released, and I think 99.9% of them kept it quiet. … That twist became part of the reason the Americans flocked to see the film. At the height of its popularity in New York I used to slip into the back of cinemas, just for the moment, just for the revealing moment, because the audience would go crazy. … Obviously, it did work as a sort of hook for the film.

Well, of course I've talked about that film here before, since (because I like it in other respects) it got me thinking a bit about twists in general, what they do and when and why they work, or not - and when they're plain objectifying. That discussion is here.

But Woolley said something else that was rather interesting, and tangential to the other discussion. They were talking about the positioning of the twist and its relation to genre. Many twists come at the end of the story - but in The Crying Game it comes somewhere round the halfway point. And the effect is to change the genre of the of film - in this case from a fairly hard-bitten thriller about the IRA into something quite different (what would you say the genre of The Crying Game is by the end?)

Woolley's comparison was with Pyscho - where the midway murder of the apparent main character signals the change from its being a crime thriller to a psycho-drama. Another example that springs to mind is, of course, Madoka Magica...

I feel there must be at least a few others - stories that that reveal that the audience (and possibly the characters) have been wrong-genre-savvy, and make them reevaluate everything that's happened through the prism of a different genre template, but that also give them the time to do so, rather than using the revelation as a final-scene pay-off. A twist in the tail is fine, but a twist in the torso is better. It's a model that appeals to me, anyway - but how common is it?

Examples, please!

Oedipus Rex sort of fits this bill, although it comes from a world where people didn't have the same fine-detail genre categories or expectations that we do (any more than a concept of 'twists', really). So it is a tragedy all the way through, but the first half is about a king trying to discover what is afflicting his city, and the second half about him reacting to the discovery that it is him.

Shakespeare's Julius Caesar also kills off its title character half-way through, and then, having dealt with why people might want to kil him, moves on to exploring the consequences.

It's a long while since I read Oedipus Rex. If you'd asked me I'd have sworn that the revelation about Oedipus being the cause came quite near the end, but that may be because that's where it would 'conventionally' be, and my memory has adjusted things accordingly.

Timon of Athens occurs to me as another Shakespearian candidate.

Also A Winter's Tale. Starts out high drama a la Othello, turns into a romantic comedy.


Log in

No account? Create an account