I watched Roy Andersson’s You, the Living last night. It’s a life-affirming movie, despite its pigheaded characters and formica settings. Maybe that’s partly down to its format, which presents 50 ‘sketches’, each of which is generally less than two minutes in length. It lends the grumpy, non-communicative characters a Lilliputian charm, and this slice-and-dice structure actually engages rather than distances.
I’m also reading Richard Brautigan’s Sombrero Fallout at the moment: a writer throws away a story about an ice-cold sombrero, which continues to tell itself in the wastepaper basket. It’s built from lots of tiny chapters, some of them as short as a paragraph. Brautigan’s prose is pretty -‘Yukiko turned like a fantastic page in her sleep’ – very much feeling like scrunched up bits of paper you’ve rescued from the garbage – but they’re rich individual experiences, full of details. Fittingly, they feel like they’ve got a life of their own as well as existing as part of a larger narrative.
All this got me thinking about duration in games.