Storytelling on film
October 10, 2012 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Can you give me some examples of short films that are primarily monologues or someone telling a story?

I'm looking for short films that are primarily one person talking either to another person or to the air, telling a story or something similar. I'm interested in the techniques filmmakers use to keep such films visually interesting and compelling.

I'm not looking for famous monologues from feature films or television.
posted by Bookhouse to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
La Jetee.

Also, many, if not all, of Peter Greenaway's short films. A Walk Through H is probably my favorite. The Falls is a feature-length film of his consisting only of narration.
posted by griphus at 11:42 AM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

At least some of the HP Lovecraft Collection short films are like this, due to the source material. I know 'Nyarlathotep,' on the Cool Air collection, is a monologue/telling of the story, with a silent film background acting out the scenes.
posted by cobaltnine at 11:45 AM on October 10, 2012

I was gonna recommend My Dinner With Andre, and then I realized you said 'short films,' but seriously you should see it anyways. The entire movie is simply a conversation between two men sitting in a restaurant.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:48 AM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Are you familiar with Spalding Gray? He is know for his monologues, particularly Swimming to Cambodia and Monster in a Box.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 11:52 AM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Discipline of D.E. by Gus Van Sant
posted by Ms. Toad at 11:53 AM on October 10, 2012

Response by poster: I'm sorry, I should have been more specific and said I'm looking for examples where the storyteller or monologuist is the primary visual, as opposed to something like La Jetee or a silent film with narration.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:55 AM on October 10, 2012

Did you only want short films specifically? A Huey P. Newton Story clocks in at 86 mins. but is exactly what you're looking for.
posted by griphus at 12:01 PM on October 10, 2012

Oh, hmm... that's tougher. If you can find Neil LaBute's "Sexting," that would qualify, though I would argue it's not necessarily a *great* film, and it's essentially one take, so the visual interest is all about Julia Stile's performance and charisma.
posted by Ms. Toad at 12:02 PM on October 10, 2012

Maybe not exactly what you're looking for, but I keep thinking Errol Morris. He uses a device that allows subjects to look directly into the camera lens when answering questions, giving the impression that they're delivering a kind of monologue instead of responding to prompting. He uses a lot of additional footage in the finished product, but the storytelling technique is striking. The idea may or may not be helpful to you.

Here's a short film from Morris that appeared in the blue recently.
posted by Mothlight at 12:03 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

A longer movie, but well-done is Blown Sideways Through Life, based on a monologue/one-woman-show by Claudia Shear.
posted by xingcat at 12:09 PM on October 10, 2012

Many of Andy Warhol's sound films would fit. Here's a filmography. Ones I've seen that definitely (maybe?) fit are Camp, Paul Swan, and Poor Little Rich Girl.
posted by bubukaba at 12:11 PM on October 10, 2012

Perhaps "Fires in the Mirror"?
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:34 PM on October 10, 2012

David Cronenberg's Camera.
posted by neckro23 at 1:33 PM on October 10, 2012

I'm not sure if your criteria exclude them (they're famous and not quite short), but Alan Bennett's Talking Heads monologues are, television-wise, the masterpiece of the genre.
posted by thetortoise at 1:40 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, the Beckett on Film set (you can watch several on YouTube, I think) has some good ones with visual interest.
posted by thetortoise at 1:53 PM on October 10, 2012

There's a bit of that in the feature film "Conversations with Other Women," and rather a lot in the TV series "In Treatment"
posted by estherbester at 2:00 PM on October 10, 2012

This is animated dogs and badgers and such, but maybe you can take some cues from Creature Comforts.
posted by carsonb at 2:03 PM on October 10, 2012

Martin Scorcese's "American Boy" may be exactly the kind of thing you're looking for. (it's available on YouTube)
posted by ShutterBun at 2:06 PM on October 10, 2012

It's a part of a much longer movie, but Jean-Claude Van Damme has a fantastic monologue telling his life story in the movie JCVD. Yes, really.
posted by chengjih at 2:17 PM on October 10, 2012

This (the title and all the rest of it is NSFW).
posted by jaimystery at 4:01 PM on October 10, 2012

Liam Gavin's Shooting Blanks.
"My name is Cupid, and I'm an alcoholic." Under 12 minutes.
posted by the Real Dan at 4:35 PM on October 10, 2012

I just spotted this one, Joseph Gordon-Levitt talking about his love for Strawberry Bootlaces, (yt) and doing so as if he was English. 2:15 long, and it's a mix of live action (Gordon-Levitt as a kind of cut-out) and animation (background and "props") and entirely narrated by Gordon-Levitt.

If you've ever over-eaten red licorice, well, this will speak to you on a deep level. Perhaps too deep.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:21 PM on October 11, 2012

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