Non-narrative film is an aesthetic of film that does not narrate, or relate "an event, whether real or imaginary". The aesthetic strives to be nonrepresentational. Aesthetics of Film writes, "This is to say one would not recognize anything in the image and that temporal, sequential, or cause-and-effect relations could not be perceived between the shots or the elements of the image." Narrative film is the dominant aesthetic, though non-narrative film is not fully distinct from that aesthetic. While the non-narrative film avoids "certain traits" of the narrative film, it "still retains a number of narrative characteristics". Narrative film also occasionally uses "visual materials that are not representational".
According to The Film Experience, non-narrative film is distinct from nonfiction film, though both forms may overlap in documentary films. The book writes, "A non-narrative film may be entirely or partly fictional; conversely, a nonfiction film can be constructed as a narrative."
- Aumont, Jacques; Bergala, Alain; Marie, Michel; Vernet, Marc (1992). Aesthetics of Film. Texas Film and Media Studies. University of Texas Press. pp. 70–71. ISBN 978-0-292-70437-4.
- Corrigan, Timothy; White, Patricia (2012). The Film Experience: An Introduction. Bedford/St. Martin's. p. 264. ISBN 978-0-312-68170-8.
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