Saturday, 10 November 2007

Who Else Can Do What We Do?

Okay, so I've just finished watching season 3 of The Wire, and I have to ask -- does anyone do climactic montages as well as David Simon and co? For three consecutive seasons The Wire's crew have assembled closing episodes that perfectly convey the weird mix of constant change and perpetual stasis which is at the heart of the show, and those dense montage-sequences are an essential part of this effect.
And it's interesting, because while the final montage in season 3 highlights the variety of personal triumphs and tragedies that have played out during the previous twelve episodes, the main impression conveyed is that the big picture remains much the same. The montage is perfect for generating this effect, because it keeps your eye on the smaller details while also suggesting the broader state of things through sheer aggregation. All of which makes perfect sense as a part of the show's critique of degraded, self-serving institutions, but... is it just me or does it also exemplify the show's working methods in a neat way? Through such techniques, The Wire makes polemical points while avoiding the normal 'hitting the audience over the head' pitfalls of dogmatic fiction. It builds its case up from a conflicted tumble of character details, which allows for plenty of thematic wiggle room while also making for some damned good TV.
If all of this sounds vague then I'm sorry, but I'm trying not to give away anything to those who're even further behind on the show than I am. I'm also painfully aware that The Wire is too big a show for this post -- there's a lot to be said about it, but right now I feel sadly incapable of actually saying it (perhaps because of the strength of the shows specific details).
So... yeah, montages: not just for cheesy training scenes.

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