After sitting down to watch a 31-minute documentary without any narration whatsoever I came to the conclusion that films without narration are incredibly difficult to digest.
Something was obviously missing and I tell you, it was painful!
Is narration necessary in film? Let’s find out.
Remember those hour-long documentaries made by National Geographic with the animals going about their business?
How about the numerous historical programs on A&E and TLC?
What would happen if you were to strip them of their narration? It would be catastrophic, wouldn’t it?
This evening, there was nothing on TV and we were out of LOST DVD episodes so I clicked around to find a documentary from our cable provider to watch. Thirty-one minutes of natural splendor featuring Algonquin Provincial Park was calming and tranquil, yet as I said before, something was missing. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the documentary I was watching didn’t have a narrator and that fact made me uncomfortable.
I realized just how integral speech and narration is to someone who is watching a film or documentary.
The steady voice of a trained narrator provides many things, including:
• an anchor
• a touchstone
• verbal perspective
• window into the writer’s mind
Another surprising aspect of this experiment proved that although beautiful, splendorous and serene, the film was not able to keep my undivided attention, partially because I was so distracted by the fact that there was not a narrator. I desired the companionship of a narrator and wanted someone to comment on what I was seeing to affirm my interpretation of the film… but most of all, I needed someone to speak to break the solitude — to share the moment.
Watching the film in complete silence (with the exception of some nature sounds and music) seemed too private and intimate, almost like I was intruding on the filmmaker and his crew.
Having a narrator on board is kind of like a nod in your direction giving you permission to partake in what is going on. They invite you in and encourage you to journey with them as the story unfolds on the screen.
People like narrators because a narrator provides security. They can spur on new thoughts, segue eloquently when required and persuasively convey emotion using the most powerful and innately wonderful tool in humanity’s communicative arsenal — the human voice.
How important is narration to you?
Leave a comment sharing your thoughts.