Narratology: An Introduction

By Susana Onega ; Jose Angel Garcia Landa | Go to book overview

14 Focalisation in Film Narrative*

CELESTINO DELEYTO

Deleyto's article is a pathbreaking attempt to adapt Genette's and Bal's concept of 'focalization' to the specific analysis of film narrative. Drawing on the distinction between narrator (who speaks) and focalizer (who sees), Deleyto rejects the traditional view that the 'camera narrates'. Following Bordwell ( 1985), he contests the position of 'invisible observer' theories according to which analysis of film narration should be exclusively based on the position of the camera. He accepts Bal's distinction between internal and external focalization, and concludes, disagreeing with Bordwell, that the external focalizer occupies the position of the camera. While Bal sharply separates focalization in the novel (which she ascribes to the story level) from narration (situated at text level), Deleyto argues that, in film, focalization has to be studied simultaneously with narration. Deleyto's most suggestive contention is that, whereas in the novel the two kinds of focalization alternate, in film several internal and external focalizers can appear simultaneously at different points inside or outside the frame, all contributing to the development of the narrative and to the creation of a permanent tension between subjectivity and objectivity. His analysis of classical film shows the general tendency of film narrative to combine internal with external focalization and to return to the objective presentation of external narration to make the internal gazes in the text understandable. Finally, Deleyto proposes an analysis of the relationship between internal focalizer and focalized through the use of four main techniques: editing, framing, movement of the camera and mise-en-scène.

[ . . . ]

Narratology is the study of narrative texts in general, not only novels. There are other ways of presenting a story, from the narrative poem

____________________
*
CELESTINO DELEYTO, "'Focalisation in Film Narrative'", Atlantis 13.1/2 ( Nov. 1991): 159-77.

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