Stranger Than Fiction

Pondering The Strangeness In Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

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Marc Forster directed Stranger Than Fiction (2006) stars Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah, and Emma Thompson. 

The story revolves around the protagonist Harold Crick, an Internal Revenue Service Agent, who suddenly, out of nowhere, starts to hear a voice narrating his life. Consulting a psychiatrist, he went to visit a literary expert Jules Hilbert to solve his problem. 

Simultaneously with his problem, Harold finds a new life with Ana Pascal, whom he met during an official inspection. As the day passes, Harold almost loses whatever control he has in his life. 

What up with Stranger Than Fiction?

Stranger Than Fiction

He takes days off from work and begins to live his life in his own way. One day during his visit to Jules, he, for the first time, sees Karen Eiffel, a writer, on the television and recognizes her voice which is like his narrator’s. 

He learns from Jules about her writings and gets to know that he will die soon. Harold struggles to talk with Karen but, at last, succeeds. Karen was overwhelmed, knowing everything from Karen. 

However, after reading the outline of the story Jules and later Harold himself acknowledges the novel’s outstanding artistry, and both accept the death of the protagonist (or Harold Crick). The next day Harold works on his routine and at the bus stop to save a child who falls in front of the bus. 

However, waking up in the hospital, it becomes clear for Harold himself as well as for us that Harold is alive though injured. Actually, his watch’s shrapnel saves him from bleeding to death by blocking the ulnar artery. 

The movie ends with Karen’s conversation with Jules describing that she killed characters who are unaware of death, not a character like Jules, who is aware of everything.

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Is it Stranger Than Fiction?

Stranger Than Fiction

The fiction in the film from the beginning is quite strange. It provides a set of structures behind its projection. In two ways, we can observe the film. In one way: “Is it a story within a story where the writer lacks omnipotence?” is the question that may have popped up in your head. 

Let us get to the point where we can find the structure behind what is happening in the film. The story here is presented from the point of view of Harold Crick, the character.

The custom that a character generally works according to the writer is subverted here. Here the character can understand a bit what the narrator wants to do with him. 

The gift of thinking is not only limited to the narrator but also given to the character who tries his best to get out of his being as just a character of the fiction. 

The traditional notion of fate defeating humans is interchanged here by the protagonist’s victory over the omnipotent observer. In a time when characters don’t have any voice to speak, this movie stands beside them and shows how characters should be created originally. 

The presence of Pirandello’s characters searching for themself can be felt within the character of this fiction. The movie bluntly shows in the face of the tyrannical writers that it is the characters who matter more than the writer before the readers. 

Apart from continuously asserting itself, the film at the same time grounds the fact that a story can best be plotted with the synthesis of the writer as well as the character in the writings. 

Though depicted physically, this is actually a psychological process. The second way is, however, far different from the first one. This film brings a change by highlighting it is not a tragedy that can only be considered great. 

Still, the greatness in life or in writings (reflecting the reality in life) can be comic in essence, which can be, in actuality, tragic. That is, Karen writes about the tragedy that befallen humans. With Crick’s, she also thought of something similar. 

Later aware of the reality of the character’s existence, she saves him by not killing the character. Does then Karen really compassionate? Didn’t Karen bring tragedy to Crick’s life? Harold is truly saved from being dead, but he gets admitted to the hospital. 

Would there be any other less catastrophic situation than this for a person who reluctantly accepts his death? Thus depicting two contrasting ways, the film truly proves it’s strange.

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Bitika Paul

Bitika Paul is a content writer and published author from West Bengal. She is a cinephile and watches movies or series of different languages and genres, in fact, she sometimes indulges in binge-watching. She writes content on popular culture, subjects, travel, books, lifestyle, foods, etc. She is a bookworm who doesn't want to get out of the house unless she is robbed of excuses.

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