Monday, 7 June 2010

Licence to write nice things

If you're allowed poetic license, USE IT, methinks.

I just finished wiping my tears after watching this week's episode of Doctor Who (Vincent and the Doctor).

It was great - touching, good pace, fine acting, entertaining. And it was also exactly what I'd like a 'story' to be.

The episode was - bear with me for a minute - one of those historical episodes where the Doctor and Amy travel back in time to Vincent Van Gogh's period. There they meet a troubled genius, unappreciated, unknown, broke and suffering from depression, about a year before he kills himself. 

So far so accurate.

Then, however, the story goes on to appropriate fact to fiction. It builds endearing tales around the artist's character and his individual art pieces, providing reasons for behaviour and creations we can now only speculate, or at the most hazard educated guesses about.

Because it's a story, it can take these liberties. 

So now, the Starry Night, the Sunflowers,  Van Gogh's self portraits, the stunning cafe one, are all, in my mind, inextricably linked in lovely little fully fictitious stories of their own, with the Doctor.

In further sentimentality, the story takes a shitty reality (old boy Van G.'s anonymity in his time) and changes it in a sweet, positive, touching prerogative of imagination (he travels to 2010 to see what a super star he is). I guarantee you can't watch without tearing up.

I - and this is a VERY personal choice/ opinion - think this is what a story should do: make rubbish realities better.

Am I suggesting that stories should be escapist? - To an extent, yes. Never exceeding narrative frameworks of plausibility or inconsistency, but definitely heading to an ending that is happy.

Or at least, taking a chance to tie up loose ends.

I believe that killing off a main character, or bringing in a shocking twist - a popular narrative technique on tele these days - is not the most enjoyable way to tell stories.

A good story is one that plays with my emotions. A great story, in my books, is one that does all that but leaves me happy, satisfied.

I have pleaded guilty to favouring happyendificiation before. And this won't be the end of it. 

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