Anaphoric Movies: Repetition Is the Key
The term anaphora, in literature comes from the Greek for a carrying up or back, and refers to a type of parallelism created when successive phrases or lines begin with the same words, often resembling a litany. The repetition can be as simple as a single word or as long as an entire phrase.
—THE ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS
What do these films have in common—Vantage Point (2008), Edge of Tomorrow (2014), Groundhog Day (1993) and Source Code (2011)? The elements anaphora and anaphoric are a poetic technique / rhetorical device that uses repetition for effects and emphasis. In films, the concept could be slightly different but it is applied here for convenience and the ignorance of suitable terminology. There is no prize for the correct guessing but these four films employ the technique of poetic anaphora, using the most of visual replication and doing it quite well. In the same breath, it is much more complex than using flashbacks to tell or rather re-tell a story.
[Nota Bene Minimal posters of the anaphoric films customised for this blog]
1. Vantage Point (starring Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, William Hurt, and Sigourney Weaver) is a political action thriller. The US president is going to deliver a speech on the American war on terror. The responsibilities of the president’s security fell on two secret service agents. This film recounts the several perspectives that untangle an assassination attempt on the president. Critics have often compared this film to Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1950)—which fine-tunes the art of narrative style by employing multiple vantage points to a story.
2. Edge of Tomorrow (Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt) is a typical Hollywood us-versus-them sci-fi film, which is based on a novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. The Japs are everywhere! When all the military powers in the world become as good as nothing, a major is send on a suicide mission against a powerful alien onslaught. The main story is when the lead character is lost in a time loop.
3. Groundhog Day (Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, and Chris Elliott) is categorised under the genre of comedy fantasy. A weatherman goes to cover the annual Groundhog Day that heralds the arrival of spring. The American National Film Registry has labelled this film as ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’. In this comparatively older film, the reporter cannot help but lose in a time loop. Soon he becomes a hedonist, who tries to kill himself several times until he finds his love of a lifetime.
4. Source Code (2011) a sci-fi, stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright. A celebrated soldier wakes up one fine day, but trapped inside a stranger’s body. He realises he is part of a team that plans to nab a bomber. He also finds he is a part of a government-sponsored program, called the Source Code. This program enables him to switch his body with anybody in the last eight minutes of his life. The soldier lives over the incident repeatedly to solve the puzzle when there is another threat of a bomb attack.