12,000

We have over 12,000 students, from over 100 countries, within one of the safest campuses in the UK

93%

93% of Lancaster students go into work or further study within six months of graduating

Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Effects of the dominant in Secret Window.
View graph of relations

« Back

Effects of the dominant in Secret Window.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date08/2008
JournalNew Review of Film and Television Studies
Journal number2
Volume6
Number of pages17
Pages151-167
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This paper seeks to identify and examine 'problematic' aesthetic strategies in David Koepp's Secret Window (2004). Arguing that the film fits into a specific 'puzzle film' category favouring self-deceiving protagonists and surprise twists, the paper seeks to account for the negative critical reaction accrued by the film's denouement. Most centrally, I invoke the Russian Formalist's concept of the 'dominant' in order to suggest how Secret Window subordinates textual elements to the film's narrative revelation. It is this prioritising of the main plot twist that accounts for many of the film's dramaturgically contentious tactics. The paper demonstrates the means by which Secret Window cuts against the grain of Hollywood storytelling norms; it suggests that the film manipulates character engagement in a way that exceeds the puzzle film's traditional reshuffling of sympathies; and it indicates how the film deploys generic convention and allusion to engender a highly self-conscious and repressive narration. These arguments aim to show that the film displays bold and sophisticated aesthetic strategies. More broadly, the paper argues that by analysing problematic examples of a film genre, we can usefully disclose the aesthetic principles that underpin the genre's more successful films.

Bibliographic note

The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, New Review of Film and Television Studies, 6 (2), 2008, © Informa Plc