graphic novel time


Christopher Nolan’s recent £125m blockbuster film Inception concludes with a 45-minute setpiece in which Leonardo DiCaprio’s team of brain-hopping idea thieves descends through nested dreams, in each of which time runs more slowly than in the previous layer. Any graphic novel fans in the audience would have watched this complex sequence with nods of recognition. But perhaps with sighs of exasperation, too: the film’s showpiece effect – creating the illusion of relative time, of events happening simultaneously but being experienced at different paces – is difficult to achieve in the linear medium of cinema but easily suggested in comics and graphic novels. Inception is rigid with explanatory dialogue to help the viewer interpret the final hour: a kind of endless tutorial leading up to a deft but soulless showpiece. When it comes to the medium of graphic novels, however, years of experimentation, combined with certain defining features of the form, have resulted in a complex medium that excels at portraying multiple time schemes and shifting conceptions of reality.

more from Tim Martin at the FT here.