This article contributes to the recent discussion of what is often referred to in film studies as “complex storytelling.” Unfortunately, complex storytelling is a vague term, and therefore the aim of this article is to identify one specific, clearly distinguishable category of such storytelling, “mind-tricking narratives.” These employ narrative techniques — to be more precise, focused and temporary surprise gaps — that deliberately deceive the audience. They play with the viewers’ experiences, expectations, and responses during the viewing of a film and spring an utterly surprising outcome in the end that calls for a distinct reviewing — as in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense, David Fincher’s Fight Club, and Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige. After problematizing recent work on complex storytelling in film studies, this article analyzes mind-tricking narratives in greater detail. It seeks to explain why such narratives are a subtype of complex storytelling despite the fact that many of them are narrated in a seemingly classical way. Furthermore, they will be distinguished according to three main aspects: who deceives, how is it done, and when does the audience find out about the deception?
Skip Nav Destination
Cornelia Klecker; Mind-Tricking Narratives: Between Classical and Art-Cinema Narration. Poetics Today 1 June 2013; 34 (1-2): 119–146. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-1894469
Download citation file: