The Implied Author in Kieslowski's White

Rimma Garn, Defense Language Institute

This presentation will investigate the concept and manifestations of the implied author in Kieslowski's comedy White. It will explore this implied author's subtle commentary on the cinematic discourse, ironic commentaries on the film's protagonist, as well as generalizing commentaries that establish connections between the microcosm of this film and cultural and historical reality – both specifically Polish reality and universal reality.

Commentary on the discourse is exemplified in Kieslowski's masterful use of flash-forwards that instill a sense of predestination when the scenes and events "predicted" by such flash-forwards actually take place in the chronology of the plot line. Two of the most prominent images are the huge old suitcase as it moves forward on the airport luggage conveyor and the entrance of the female protagonist, Dominique, into a darkened room.

Ironic commentaries by the implied author focus on the protagonist and his striking transformation (especially his feet and hairdo) as he creates his new image in Poland after being rejected by his love in France. Perhaps the most remarkable ironic commentary of the implied author on the protagonist takes the form of the musical motif "Eureka!" repeatedly associated with his adventurous ideas. It recurs when Karol comes up with an ingenious way to take revenge, when he undertakes his first swindle, when he decides to stage his own funeral, when he changes his plans while watching Dominique sleep. This theme even accompanies the closing credits.

Generalizing commentaries of the implied author position images and events of the film within the broader context of Polish and world literature and art. Thus, for example, the protagonist's relationship to his ex-wife and the female bust that represents her suggest Prus’ Lalka as a subtext. The protagonist's redundant name, Karol Karol, evokes, on the one hand, associations with Charlie Chaplin, and on the other, names of prominent characters within Russian literature – in Gogol or Nabokov, for instance. The seemingly simple gesture of touching hands in a pivotal love scene between Karol and Dominique alludes to Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam, and suggests the motif of transformation shaped by love.

Drawing on Seymour Chatman’s study Story and Discourse, this presentation will apply principles most often used in the analysis of literary discourse to the analysis of cinematic discourse. It will be argued that in film an implied author can play the same role as a literary implied narrator and powerfully influence the viewer, communicating narrative control in a variety of ways (as through the flash-forwards) and suggesting an ironic attitude to the protagonist, as well as a wide spectrum of thematics and concerns.