Elsevier · Taylor, Lauriault: Developments in the Theory and Practice of Cybercartography, 2nd Edition · Chapter 11: A Spatial Typology of Cinematographic Narratives

Chapter 11: A Spatial Typology of Cinematographic Narratives

Sébastien Caquard¹, Daniel Naud²

¹Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

²Département de Géographie, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Quebec, Canada

The research presented in this chapter aims to initiate the development of a spatial typology of cinematographic narratives, using a cybercartographic application. This application has been developed to map the narrative structure of 46 contemporary Canadian films. The spatial dimensions of these narrative structures were characterized by the locations of the action, the movement between these locations, and the different places mentioned in these films. Throughout the process of mapping and analysing these criteria, some recurrent narrative forms were identified, as well as some connections between certain cinematographic genres (such as documentaries) and complex spatial narrative structures. Based on these results, an initial spatial typology of cinematographic narratives is proposed.

Keywords: Canadian cinema; Cinematic cartography; Cybercartography; Narrative cartography.

Figure 11.1 This example shows the first 7 min of Bon Cop Bad Cop (Dir. Erik Canuel, 2006). So far the action has unfolded evenly between Montreal (orange point in the NE corner) and Toronto (red point in the SW corner). The plain orange line shows that the action has already moved twice between Montreal and Toronto, and the dashed lines connect the action with places that are mentioned in the movie (Note: the working prototype of the cybercartographic application can be accessed here: http://scaquard.classone-tech.com/).

Figure 11.2 General structure of the appearance of new places throughout movies. New ­structures appear mainly in the first third of a movie and, to a lesser extent, towards the end of a movie.

Figure 11.3 Example of an unipolar spatial narrative structure with only a couple of places mentioned (dashed lines): Long Life, Happiness, and Prosperity (Dir. Mina Shum, 2002).

Figure 11.4 In Un Dimanche à Kigali (Dir. Robert Favreau, 2006), the action unfolds at a local scale between Kigali and Karago, Rwanda (left) but Canadian places are mentioned 15 times in total (right), expanding the geographic frame of the narrative.

Figure 11.5 Two examples of triangular shapes. Young Triffie (Dir. Mary Walsh, 2006) (left) and The Journal of Knud Rasmussen (Dir. Zacharias Kunuk, Norman Cohn, 2006) (right).

Figure 11.6 Example of a multipolar nodal narrative structure that unfolds in several locations but radiates from a central node: Maurice Richard (Dir. Charles Binamé, 2005).

Figure 11.7 Two similar complex spatial narrative structures: L'âge des ténèbres (Dir. Denys Arcand, 2007) on the left and Radiant City (Dir. Gary Burns and Jim Brown, 2006) on the right. In both cases, the action unfolds at a local scale, mainly between the suburb and the city, and sometimes navigating to surrounding places. This central linear structure is then combined with secondary triangulated narrative structures, illustrating the combination of the basic shapes described earlier.

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