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Unspoken Desires: Lore as case study on shadow narrative

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This article explores the concept of a shadow narrative lying under the surface of the main film narrative through a case study of the 2012 film Lore. The film is based on the second story in Rachel Seiffert’s book The Dark Room. It was adapted for the screen by British screenwriter Robin Mukherjee and Australian director and screenwriter Cate Shortland. I will search for the structure of this narrative through an analysis of key emotional scenes, moments or spectral traces when the unspoken desires of the protagonist, Lore, surface and take form, when subtext becomes text and nothing is ever the same again. Using film analyst Paul Gulino’s argument that most narrative films consist of eight major sequences, each between eight and fifteen minutes, I will break the film into eight sequences and then identify one key emotional scene in each sequence. I will then analyse the eight key scenes and discuss the development of Lore’s shadow or unspoken narrative of desire. Some of these key scenes re-imagine or extend narrative moments from the book, but most are new, created by the screenwriters in order to make visible the invisible transformation of character and to heighten themes introduced in the first story in the book and brought to a resolution in the third.
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Keywords: adaptation; desire; key scenes; sequence structure; shadow narrative; subtext

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Technology, Sydney

Publication date: September 1, 2014

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  • The Journal of Screenwriting aims to explore the nature of writing for the moving image in the broadest sense, highlighting current academic thinking around scriptwriting whilst also reflecting on this with a truly international perspective and outlook. The journal will encourage the investigation of a broad range of possible methodologies and approaches to studying the scriptwriting form, in particular: the history of the form, contextual analysis, the process of writing for the moving image, the relationship of scriptwriting to the production process and how the form can be considered in terms of culture and society. The journal also aims to encourage research in the field of screenwriting, the linking of scriptwriting practice to academic theory, and to support and promote conferences and networking events on this subject.
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