“But it did happen”: Sound as Deep Narrative in P.T. Anderson’s Magnolia (1999)
By Theodora Hawksley
1. Magnolia’s script is available online at http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Magnolia.html
2. While Magnolia has generated a lot of theological interest, particularly in theological blogging circles, there remain few papers on the film.
3. Mario DeGiglio Bellamare, ‘Magnolia and the Signs of the Times: A Theological Reflection’, Journal of Religion and Film, 4:2 (2000), §13–14.
4. Bellamare, ‘Magnolia and the Signs of the Times’, §13–15.
5. Joanne Clarke Dillman, ‘Twelve Characters in Search of a Televisual Text: Magnolia Masquerading as Soap Opera’, The Journal of Popular Film and Television,33:3 (2005), 142–150.
6. Joanne Clarke Dillman, ‘Twelve Characters in Search of a Televisual Text’, 143–4.
7. Joanne Clarke Dillman, ‘Twelve Characters in Search of a Televisual Text’, 144.
8. Erin Runions, ‘Falling Frogs and Family Traumas: Mediating Apocalypse in Magnolia’, How Hysterical: Identification and Resistance in the Bible and Film, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 133–63. Runions’ paper is fascinating, and her analysis of the role of television in Magnolia alongside the philosophy of Walter Benjamin is particularly suggestive.
9. Runions, ‘Falling Frogs and Family Traumas’, 141–2.
10. Anderson has said that he sees Mann’s voice as an extra character in the narrative: for an interesting commentary on this statement and analysis of Mann’s voice as encouraging female viewing perspective, see Joanne Clarke Dillman, ‘Twelve Characters in Search of a Televisual Text’, 144.
11. Brian Michael Goss comments on some of Anderson’s ‘startling sound bridges’ in “ ‘Things Like This Don’t Just Happen’: Ideology and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, and Magnolia”, Journal of Communication Inquiry, 26:2 (2002), 171–91, (177).
12. Joanne Clarke Dillman, ‘Twelve Characters in Search of a Televisual Text’, 150.
13. Clarke Dillman makes a similar point about the prevalence of screens calling into question the reality of what the viewer has just seen.
14. Perhaps the subheading for such a study could be ‘Christ as good cop’. Kurring is the only character who decides to ‘save’ others, and whose actions are governed by a coherent sense of his own purpose and mission. Though we are made aware of his failures to be a ‘good cop’ in any ordinary sense (asking someone out on a date during a call out, dropping his nightstick, losing his gun), Kurring nevertheless represents something of a salvific figure in those whose lives he touches – particularly Claudia and Donnie.
15. Rainer Maria Rilke, ‘Herbst’, online at http://www.onlinekunst.de/rilke/rilke_herbst.html Translation is my own.
16. Donald MacKinnon, ‘Subjective and Objective Conceptions of Atonement’, F.G Healey (ed.), Prospect for Theology: Essays in Honour of H.H. Farmer, (Welwyn: James Nisbet and Company, 1966), 172.
17. Gerard Loughlin, Telling God’s Story: Bible, Church and Narrative Theology, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 17.
Journal of Religion and Film 2009
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