Such a film device is not in any way new or inventive. It is a story-telling technique that is used by different directors to elaborate a plot, based on the needs of the plot and the messages they wish to convey to the audience. As such, this brief analysis will track and consider the ways in which directors of three distinct films—Dr Strangelove (1964), A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), and The Big Lebowski (1998)—employ this technique. Through such an analysis, the author hopes to reveal the different nuanced levels of meaning that the individual directors hope to invoke through story-telling techniques such as the voice-over narrative. Kubrick himself, when discussing how he would cast and direct a satire on the lunacy of the Cold War, noted that it should be presented to the audience in a form of dark humour. In this way, it could more readily convey the levels of truth and the different meanings that are portrayed (Bilandzic & Buselle, 2011, p. 30). As a means to accomplish this end, Kubrick employed many techniques that sought to mirror elements of true life that the audience would readily be able to identify with and would appreciate. Of course one of the most powerful mechanisms that he employed was presenting news-like stories to the viewer in a matter of fact way; regardless of how utterly insane they might be in content. Kubrick further sought to provide a type of societal commentary that housed the work in a convenient yet detached framework. Rather than allowing the individual characters to stand out, ultimately diminishing the message that Kubrick was attempting to communicate, the director regarded central omniscient or seemingly omniscient narrator as a better mechanism. Thus, the director was able to present a serious and gripping subject matter in a satirical way from a detached standpoint. The detached standpoint itself is further compounded by the effect of the monotone voice of the voice-over narration, impressing upon the viewer an influential point of view. The overall effect that the director was attempting to incorporate into the film was precisely this: it was only necessary to add elements of realism into a script that was already tinged by elements of absurdity since the satire engaged the viewer with the preposterous nature of the Cold War and Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) (Kirshner 2001, p. 40). In this way, the voice-over narration provided the necessary ethos that Kubrick required to accomplish a sense of realism and authority. Iguarta (2009, p. 58) offers a comprehensive insight regarding Dr Strangelove (1964), particularly from the perspective of using the voice-over technique: Voice-over narration in Kubrick's films evolves from an element that shows the mastery of the text by itself and an element of coherence that assures the perfect fitting of each element in the first films. They also show a more detached, ironic relationship of narrator to the text, which hints at the growing feeling in the later films that reality cannot be controlled and that the text is unable to present it to us in a clear, reassuring way. This passage seems marked by the absence of voice-over narration in 2001, a reference to the organizing, clarifying function it had fulfilled in
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