Rule of Three


Synecdoche, New York

directed by Charlie Kaufman
Feature film

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Cotard syndrome: a psychological condition that causes you to believe that you are dead, doomed to wander among the living. Raoul Coutard: sixties cinematographer, the man most often found behind the camera of Jean-Luc Godard’s films. Synecdoche, New York’s Caden Cotard is like the bastard child of the two. A very unwell man, he seems to be harassed by either sycosis or psychosis, or both. An ambitious theatre director, he decides to craft a sprawling work that spans twenty years. He hires an actor to play himself, then another actor to play him, each character aware that they are performing but reluctant to live within the bounds of their role.

Words by Elizabeth Brown

The Gift

by Vladimir Nabokov

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After fleeing the Bolshevik Revolution with his family, Fyodor pursues his literary ambitions in Berlin. He explores the city and discovers its ‘mysterious’ nature, where streetlights wink and ‘across the curb one’s passing shadow slinks’. The protagonist’s poetic inclinations are echoed in the prose, underlining his talent and passion for writing, while keenly demonstrating Nabokov’s own gift. The author’s character seems to be partly carved out of autobiography, particularly when he comes to write his own novel. The reader is invited to wonder whether that work is The Gift, and to reflect on the book’s self-consciously subversive nature.

Words by Sophia Martin-Pavlou

One of Us

edited by Joe Quesada, Axel Alonso & Jody LeHeup
Comic story arc

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Shapeshifting alien skrulls descend on a baseball stadium, their scarab-like ship landing on the turf. Only the team mascot is left to fend off the invasion; luckily, he is a mutant marksman in disguise, heavily armed and clad in body armour. Deadpool, the Merc with a Mouth, is Marvel’s most self-aware anti-hero. His skill as a fighter is well-known, but he expends as much effort making quips and pop culture references as he does hunting down his targets. One scene sees him sing Harry Nilsson’s ‘Coconut’ as he drops a package of TNT into the skrull vessel. Many more have him break the fourth wall to chat with the comic’s creators.

Words by John Wadsworth

More to discover

Synecdoche, New York: You can watch a trailer here, and view a pair of video essays interpreting the film (by The /Filmcast's David Chen and MTV News' Amy Nicholson) here.

The Gift: You can read a book chapter on Vladimir Nabokov by Julian W. Connolly here.

One of Us: You can watch a motion comic version of 'One of Us' by Voice of Adam here.

Today's connection

Synecdoche, New York, The Gift, and 'One of Us' all include characters who are themselves creating fiction, or characters who are aware that they live in a fictional world. By doing so, all three works expose the artificial nature of fiction.

Question of the day

Which artworks would you recommend in which characters realise that they are fictional?
Let us know on Facebook, Patreon, or Twitter.

Undertale, a video game developed by Toby Fox. Characters frequently acknowledge that they live within a game. (→)

– John Wadsworth, Silent Frame's Editor-in-Chief (via Patreon →)

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