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Impossible Puzzle FilmsA Cognitive Approach to Contemporary Complex Cinema$
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Miklós Kiss and Steven Willemsen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474406727

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474406727.001.0001

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Narrative Complexity and Dissonant Cognitions

Narrative Complexity and Dissonant Cognitions

Chapter 3 Narrative Complexity and Dissonant Cognitions
Impossible Puzzle Films

Miklós Kiss

Steven Willemsen

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter 3 describes how impossible puzzle films create paradoxical, incongruent or impossible narrative experiences. To understand the nature of the confusion these films create, this chapter adopts Leon Festinger’s original theory on the psychological state of cognitive dissonance (1957) and argues that the perplexing effects of impossible puzzle films can be understood as cognitive dissonances. These films strategically evoke and maintain dissonant cognitions in their viewers through internal incongruities (contradictions in their narration) and projected impossibilities (narrative structures or elements that disrupt the elementary knowledge, logic and schemas that viewers use to make sense of both real life and fiction). Along with more recent insights from embodied-cognitive sciences and narratology, cognitive dissonance theory offers us a tool to explain the effects that impossible puzzle films have on viewers.

Keywords:   Cognitive narratology, Puzzle film, Narrative theory, Narrative complexity, Impossible storyworlds, Cognitive dissonance, Embodied cognition

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