This will be the second of my posts that will be looking at time but this time I’ll be having a rummage through the details of my thoughts on the importance of time within a narrative.
As I’ve said before, time is something which can have a massive effect on everything we have and do in life in general but within the realms of storytelling time takes on so many vitally nuanced powers. We can set so many stories in times before the arrival of human history all the way through to the end of time itself, when the universe itself has drifted away to nothingness.
The issue I’ve had gnawing at me over the years is how certain stories always seem to find themselves in certain times. Why is it that so many of the stories concerning Dragons are set in the distant past with peasants and knights and everyone either lived in mud huts or castles?
It always bugged me that these adventures didn’t happen in a contemporary setting.
I loved how King Kong and Godzilla had the ‘monsters’ interacting with people and cities in the relative here and now. How would the human race react to the arrival of something like a Godzilla? The clips show perfectly that the human race would hide like the tiny mammals they are or start shooting at it, whatever it was.
Would a fire breathing Dragon, even a benevolent one, or a herbivore dinosaur be treated as anything other than a terrifying threat? Wouldn’t we just start shooting first and then cut up the body? The massive monsters as dinosaurs or Dragons are familiar to us but in a time from millions of years ago. We learn the details of the mighty beasts as something that happened ages ago. They have almost become the scary story to tell kids, terrifying details of the horrifying demons who haven’t been seen in years but they would have been able to tear you to pieces. There would have been no chance of your survival.
Now imagine the horror in the modern day. The imagine if you were playing on their turf by traveling back through time. More hiding and shooting really
Time as a context for the story is great to cause extra ways to advance the peril but create puzzles for the protagonists. It’s always more interesting solving issues without having to just shoot at it. How do you deal with the arrival of something like a Dragon? How would the human race be affected by the warping of our view of the reality of time?
When reading or watching tales like this, I was so compelled by the questions it asked of the characters but you also can’t overlook the wonder of giant lizards running about in cities we recognise. Maybe it’s just the scale we then have by seeing just how big and dangerous these things are?
Having a story that slams characters and places together who would never really meet, make so many waves in our minds that the options are completely mind-bending.
If we turn time in knots we can tell some very cool stories and maybe say so many things that challenge our collective ideals.
Massive monsters in the here and now, always got time for that.