Slugging through the cold Monday morning, I took a moment to read the latest xkcd (a huge image through the link), and they've managed to boil some major cinematic experiences down into line charts. The latest installment of the web comic tackles Movie Narrative Charts; most specifically, the movie character interactions in Lord of the Rings, Star Wars (original trilogy), Jurassic Park, 12 Angry Men, and Primer.

The charts are actually a pretty intricate set of lines showing how each character progresses through the movie -- who they meet, and the main events and conflicts that take place. However, the big wow for me is in the overall look -- how that mass of lines evokes the same memories of confusion, or lack thereof, watching the films. There's the rolling but easy-to-follow storyline of Star Wars, the pure simplicity and ease of 12 Angry Men, and best of all -- the confusion of Lord of the Rings and Primer.

I could never get into the books, so watching Rings was an exercise in intrigued confusion -- trying to keep the characters straight, waiting for a slow moment to whisper a question, and trying to make sense of a thick storyline funneled into a film. And on the other end of the confusion spectrum, there's Primer -- the film that spins around and evokes stunned, hard-to-define confusion, the spiraling lines also mimicking a lot of the wide eyes of "what the f...?!" I saw after the film's screening at TIFF.

Sometimes it's terrible storytelling, sometimes it's confusion as an art form, and sometimes it's just the mind trying to deal with mass amounts of information. Xkcd managed to lay out some of the main moments of my cinematic confusion, but what are yours? What films leave you trying to follow and make sense of the narrative?
categories Cinematical