Narration is an interesting storytelling tool as it’s probably the closest aspect of moving image to literature. I’ve always been a bit averse to narration especially when it’s used heavily or too much. I’ve been known to yell at television sets and movie screens “show don’t tell motherfucker”.
Even though it’s not really my thing, there are certain instances when narration can be really effective. I’ve observed that when it’s used NOT in conjunction with diegetic dialogue it can work particularly well. But when it’s used in conjunction with characters speaking on screen it just comes off lazy.
One such instance of effective narration I can think of would be the intro at the beginning of Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring which was quite remarkable and still sends shivers down my spine when I watch it.
Another example would be the Dishonored: Tales of Dunwall animations. Besides the annoying child’s voice narrating(would’ve been better with Cate Blanchett) it’s extremely well done and an example of an good story(or part of one) and great storytelling technique.
I recently came across this student animation, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ by Tom Beg. Adapted from parts of Oscar Wilde’s novel of the same name, the entire short is comprised of visuals that take cues from the constant narration without actually depicting what’s happening in the story. Although not something I would personally pursue, It’s a technique that might interest some of you out there with budding stories. It’s an interesting way of visual storytelling and could be developed further.
– Hamish .S