Does absorption in a movie’s story world pose a paradox?

Ed Tan, Miruna Doicaru, Frank Hakemulder, Katalin Bálint, Moniek Kuijpers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Most film viewers know the experience of being deeply absorbed in the story of a popular film. It seems that at such moments they lose awareness of watching a movie. And yet it is highly unlikely that they completely ignore the fact that they watch a narrative and technological construction. Perhaps film viewers experience being in a story world while simultaneously being aware of its construction. Such a dual awareness would seem paradoxical, because the experience of the one would go at the cost of the other. We argue that the solution of this paradox requires dropping the notion of an undivided consciousness, and replacing it with one of consciousness as coming in degrees. In this chapter we present both cognitive and film-analytic arguments for differential awareness of story and narration/technology, and argue that a characteristic of absorption is to be found in story world super-consciousness.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNarrative Absorption
EditorsFrank Hakemulder, Moniek Kuijpers, Ed S. Tan, Katalin Bálint, Miruna Doicaru
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages118
ISBN (Electronic)9789027265135
ISBN (Print)9789027234162
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • absorption
  • transportation
  • narrative attention
  • film technology
  • presence
  • visual narrative grammar


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