Re: Arrows Through the Loopholes

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Posted by Gayle on September 24, 1999 at 17:52:37:

In Reply to: Re: Arrows Through the Loopholes posted by Jo on September 24, 1999 at 01:10:25:

Jo wrote:
: The other thought I had was about the author; that Cooper wrote with many many words, that I will readily admit, I didn’t quite get the meaning or reason behind; but with the board and the “clutter posts”; I have NO problem understanding all of THOSE words; or: I understand the English very well....(did I get that line right)...

: OK, anyone else??

: Jo

Dear Jo,

In the absence of anyone else charging right in there, I can't pass up the opportunity to fill a vacuum when the magic word (Cooper) appears on the screen. ( Ever notice how that one brings me leaping out from under my rock?)

You have a very good point in comparing some of the meaningless, rambling, self-absorbed posts of the last week to some aspects of Cooper's writing. (Surprise, surprise, you are going to hear me agree with the dissenters.)

Cooper did clutter his writing with far too many words, and too many characters, as well. In so doing, he muddied the waters, not only of his plots but of the social commentary of his writing. David Gamut in "Last of the Mohicans", Dr. Battius in "The Prairie", and Reverend Amen in "The Oak Openings" are the first three examples that pop into my mind as ruiners of a good story. They were often offered as "comic" relief, but they were too inane to be funny, and every one of them put Natty Bumppo in the shade when it came to verbal clutter. Cooper cooked his own goose as a popular author by trying to cram too much irrelevance into every story.

However, putting that problem aside, he often did exactly what Michael Mann did with the beginning of the movie. Consider the footage of the Elk Hunt. The movie opens with three men running through the forest. And they run, and they run, and they run - up hills, through creeks, down trails, under trees, past rocks, and the unsuspecting audience thinks - "It's pretty, but where in the heck are they going?" Suddenly, Hawkeye stops, raises his rifle and aims - endlessly - and goes BANG! So great - did he shoot an Indian? is this a battle scene between the French and the British? WHAT?? And then we see the elk fall, and we understand everything. Wonderfully, wonderfully developed sequence.

Well, Cooper used the same technique. He developed a scene, often through an entire novel, and if the reader stayed with it, the revelation at the end put the whole story together. Usually (although not always, for sure) the final solution to the thread was just as dramatic and just as significant as the falling of the elk. The difference is, Mann did it with music and fed it all to us in a very few minutes, while Cooper strung his readers out for a much longer time and gave them much more to deal with in the interim.

I think there is an element of immediate gratification versus deferred gratification here. Plus the fact that Mann kept with the one thread through each sequence and did not make his viewers wade through a lot of side issues and irrelevancies like Cooper did. Mann was smart enough to feed the viewer one thought at a time and let it be digested in all its majesty before he changed the subject. Cooper - 0. Mann - 1.

Thanks for lifting my rock. ;o)


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