Friday, July 3, 2009

STRANGER THAN FICTION ( Plot, Characters and Characterization)

A. Synopsis

Stranger than fiction is a story about a man whose name Harold Crick (acted by Will Ferrell), his wristwatch, and a storywriter. He is an auditor for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) whose routine lonely life guided by his wristwatch. He is a man with infinite numbers, endless calculations, and remarkably few words. Thus, his life is so monotonous, boring, and repetitive.

One day, all changes when Harold Crick begins to hear a woman’s voice narrating about his innermost thought and life. She is Karen Eiffel (acted by Emma Thompson) who is a storywriter in which almost all of her stories end in the dead of the main characters. The voice that Harold hears which narrates about his life is just as a sign that he is the main character in her story. On the other hand, Harold has given a job to inspect an intentionally tax-delinquent baker whose name Ana Pascal (acted by Maggie Gyllenhaal). Then, he falls in love with her which at the same time he hears the voice narrates about him again, but he does not enable to communicate with that voice.

On the way home, Harold's watch stops working and when he resets it, what is being more unpredictable is the voice narrates that the innocuous event would result in his imminent death. He is so scared because what the narrator says always exact. In order to find a solution or at least a suggestion, Harold goes to the psychiatrist and follows her suggestion to go to the literary expert. Then, Harold goes to the Jules Hilbert (acted by Dustin Hoffman), a university professor. Jules first comes to the same conclusion as the psychiatrist, that is Harold's dull life is not something commonly seen in novels. Jules, then, encourages him to identify the author, firstly by determining if the work is a comedy or a tragedy. However, Harold determines that the story is tragedy. It can be seen when Ana angrily tells him to leave her when he refuses to accept the cookies for him. Besides, his house is broken by a wrecking crew which making mistake in demolishing the building. Harold, then, is aware that he cannot control the plot that has been set for him. In conclusion, he has to accept that he will die.

When he returns to Jules, Harold unintentionally identifies the voice he hears from a television interview. The woman in that television interview is Karen Eiffel. Jules reveals that in every book she has written, the main characters are always dead. Harold enables to find Karen through tax records, and has learned that she is presently struggling to kill off the character of Harold Crick in her latest book, "Death and Taxes", involving numerous ways includes a child on a bicycle and a city bus.

After Harold meets Eiffel, Eiffel is so horrified when she knows that Harold is the real man and experiencing what she has written. She thinks all of her previous books may also result in the deaths of real people. She tells Harold she has written a draft of the ending and his death, but has not typed it up yet. Penny suggests Harold reads the draft to get his opinion. Then, Harold asks Jules read it though finally he reads it by himself. At last, Harold returns it to Eiffel and tries to accept his fate.

The day after Harold spends one last night with Ana. Harold's watch is three minutes too fast. When he tries to save a child riding a bicycle from running over the bus, the bus hits him. However, he is safe because of his wristwatch. He just gets a serious fracture at his legs, head, and his arms.

B. Plot

1. Type of plot

The story of the movie involves revelation plot. Revelation plot is a plot in which a protagonist does not aware or ignorant to the essential facts of his situation. In the movie, firstly, Harold does not aware or ignorant that the voice narrates about his life and thought reveals that he is the main character in the story written by Karen Eiffel. Until one day he is aware about this. In revelation plot, the main character gradually or suddenly acquires the truth of the situation. The story then continues in exploring how he handles the shock of this discovery. This happens in the movie when finally Harold tries to accept his fate. His fate is being dead in the Eiffel’s story—and may be in his real world.

2. Plot structure

Based on the classic plot structure as devised by Aristotle, the story of stranger than fiction can be divided into three major parts; beginning, middle, and end.

a. Beginning

The beginning of a story provides an initiation and an introduction or description of the situation and characters exist in the story. In the movie of Stranger than Fiction, the story begins with the narration from Karen Eiffel as an introduction about Harold’s life which is lonely, monotonous, boring, repetitive, and countable.

b. Middle

The middle of a story tells about the complication that leads to the climax. In this case, the middle of a story has to present the background of circumstances that produces the complication and a series of efforts in which the protagonist attempts to solve the complication just to meet the failure.

The middle part of the movie Stranger than Fiction is indicated by the voice that Harold hear just by himself. Harold feels not comfortable with that voice and makes him not concentrate to do anything because the voice follows wherever he goes and says about whatever he is thinking about. Besides, although he can hear the voice, he cannot communicate with it. The complication is rising acutely when his wristwatch stops working and reset, the voice narrates that this innocuous event would result in his imminent death. The middle part has approached the climax when Harold goes to Jules Hilbert and try to determine whether the story which narrates about himself is a comedy or tragedy. After determining that the “story about his life” is a tragedy, Harold unintentionally sees Karen Eiffel in a television program and tries to meet her. Harold is aware that he has to die because the outline of his life story has been finished, but just not typed. The climax occurs when Harold let Eiffel to continue and make the ending of the story and the day after a bus hits him.

c. End

The ending of a story commonly serves about what happen after the complication. This is such kind of a falling action of the climax and events occur after that.

The end of the movie Stranger than Fiction is Harold is not dead. He is still alive though with serious bone fracture in his head, legs, and arms.

3. Character and Characterization

The characters presented in the movie Stranger than fiction that have big roles in the story are:

a. Harold Crick

Harold crick, the major character in this movie is a man that is so monotonous, repetitive, and boring. Every single activity in his life is calculated and he “cannot life” without his wristwatch. Harold in this movie is a round character in which everything about him is clearly and completely described both through direct and indirect characterization.

In the movie, Harold is described through direct and indirect characterization. The direct characterization can be seen from the narration of Karen Eiffel about Harold and his life. The narrator always begins her description about Harold by saying “every week day for twelve years” means that Harold’s life is repetitive and monotonous. This is an example of direct characterization of Harold.

This is a story about a man named Harold Crick and his wristwatch. Harold Crick was a man with infinite numbers, endless calculations, and remarkably few words. Every week day for twelve years, Harold would brush each of his 32 teeth 75 times. 38 times back to forward. 38 times up and down. Every week day for twelve years..................

Besides, the direct characterization describes that Harold is as a man who calculate every single activity he does. It can be seen from the narration which tells that Harold brush his teeth 75 times, 38 times back to forward, 38 times up and down, runs 57 steps per block for 6 blocks, etc. Direct characterization also describes about his loneliness by narrating that he walks alone, eats alone, and goes to bed alone.

In the movie, Harold is also described by indirect characterization. It can be seen through his action like how he says something, how he puts the eating equipment after having dinner, and how his watch always stay with him and rings every morning.

b. Karen Eiffel

Karen Eiffel is a storywriter who is full of imagination. It is described indirectly through her action and her way of thinking. For example, when she is standing on the table as if she is standing on the top of a building and observes the situation below.

Besides, she is a woman who does not care about physical appearance and anything, except her imagination. It can be seen from her physical appearance that does not seem to be well taken care. Her office is also messy and she does not care enough to it.

c. Ana Pascal

She is a woman who firmly holds principles in her life. It can be seen through indirect characterization presented in the movie that is through her respond when Harold stares at her breast. Anna Pascal is also a kind woman in which she forgives that Harold’s impoliteness.

d. Penny Escher

In the movie Penny Escher is a woman who does not believe that imagination can mix with the real life. She does not believe that the Eiffel’s story happen in the real world that is in Harold’s life. It can be seen through indirect characterization that is when she says to Eiffel “They were fictional characters, now get up”.

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