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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

 

Voiceovers

Am I the only person in the world that totally loves voiceovers in movies?

Never write them. That's what they tell the aspiring screenwriter. Unless you really know what you're doing. It's an art that must be mastered.

But there's something about the droning prattle of a narrator to guide you through a story and ground you in the alternate reality that is their universe. Sure, you've got your people who do it right. Goodfellas, Fight Club, Election, The Shawshank Redemption-- Movies whose backbone is the voiceover.

But I'm trying to think of a movie with really bad voiceover. Sometimes it seems unnecessary. But what movies are there where the voiceover really hurts the viewing experience? The theatrical release of Blade Runner comes to mind, but it's more because of Harrison Ford's "why am I reading this crap?" tone of voice than what he's actually saying.

Any other thoughts?


Comments:
I always thought Shakespeare's narrative 4th wall breaking crap felt like a huge sell-out in "Hamlet".
 
Funny you should say that -- In all seriousness, you just reminded me of another voiceover I hate. In the Laurence Olivier version of hamlet, he does the "To Be Or Not To Be" in voiceover, while he makes dramatic faces staring at a knife. A truly Shatneresqe performance from the greatest English-speaking actor of the 20th century.
 
The thing is, voiceovers only work if done right. How do you define that? Fight Club worked. Thin Red Line is only a great film because of the voiceover, especially at the beginning. The King of Marvin Gardens sidestepped the issue by make Jack Nicholson's character be an overnight radio show host that no one called. Now what is right about a voiceover? As long as the character who is doing the voiceover is well written. Character is action but it is also conflict. As long as there is visible conflict in the voiceover, it works.
 
I just realized my words made little sense. I hope you get the gist of what I'm trying to say.
 
can't think of any bad ones... but a voice over I love lately is on TV. JD/Zach Braff in Scrubs. Excellent comedic narrative effect. I feel the summation bit at the end is a little formulaic... but I blame oversaturation of reruns on Comedy Central for that.
 
The introductory voiceover to "Forbidden Planet" always struck me as both overwrought and appropriate at the same time.
 
Forbidden Planet is one of those movies that works perfectly because of when it was made. The voiceovers are one symptom of that. If you made the exact same movie today, it would be ridiculous.
 
> If you made the exact same
> movie today, it would be
> ridiculous.

The plot revolves around "monsters from the id" and Leslie Nielsen in a serious role. 'Nuff said.
 
Waaaaat? Anna Nicole Smith died?
 
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