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Travis Fine, The Space Between Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions

1.  The opening sequences that precede Montine and Omar first meeting at the airport in NYC, and the penultimate sequences that precede the final scene of the two walking onto the plane, are examples of crosscutting. Crosscutting is an editing technique most often used to establish actions occurring at the same time in two different locations. In a cross-cut, the camera will cut away from one action in one particular space to another in a different space, which can suggest the simultaneity of these two actions. What is the function of crosscutting in these sequences? How are the two examples when juxtaposed with one another significant in terms of character development, the developing relationship Montine and Omar have with one another and with themselves, as well as how the editing technique of crosscutting itself could speak to issues besides film form?

2.  In Classical Hollywood films, the beginning of the film is often echoed by the conclusion. We call this parallelism. The Space Between is an example of how this tendency persists today; thus we can see how the relationship between Montine and Omar develops and changes over time by looking at one of the film's opening sequences (when they first meet and board the plane together with an obvious space between them), which recurs in the final scene (when they walk onto the plane this time holding hands). Does this parallelism create a sense of closure or resolution? Is anything left unresolved by the end of the film?

3.  In addition to the repetitions and inversions that the parallelisms establish in the above stated questions, several motifs (any significant repeated element) stand out as well. For example, there’s the fact the Omar locks himself in a bathroom on three occasions. We are presented with three of Montine’s dreams of her deceased husband Michael on the day of the Oklahoma City bombing (though of course we are not informed as to what these dreams truly signify until just before the third dream occurs while Madine and Omar are at her brother Will’s house in Ohio). Montine refuses to watch television footage of the 9/11 attacks on several occasions until the penultimate scene when she finally does watch and then breaks down in tears. On the other hand, Omar always watches the television footage. Other notable motifs are modes of transportation, highways, tunnels, the American landscape, telephones, television, alcohol, loss, memory, amnesia, death, trauma, and music. How do any of these motifs function (and indeed how significant are they?) and how could they speak to larger patterns and issues the film is representing and interrogating?

4.  During their first night together at a roadside motel, Montine sneaks off to get drunk while Omar is sleeping. She says to the bartender “You’ll all forget. Trust me, in a few years from now no one will remember.” She is of course explicitly referring to the events of 9/11, but she then goes on to question the bartender if he can remember what happened on April 19th 1995, the day of the Oklahoma City bombing where her husband was killed. This sequence speaks to a number of issues the film is investigating at the micro and macro levels. What are they? And since the film was made approximately ten years after the events of 9/11, how does this affect our reading of the statement?

5.  In David Wyatt’s “September 11 and Postmodern Memory” (2009), he identifies an emerging pattern or motif in post-9/11 artistic productions which he calls “likeness-scenes,” “in which strangers or antagonists are aligned in an unlooked-for congruence; and strategic deferral, where something a character or a reader wants to know is withheld from the narrative until such a time as it can be serve his emotional education” (140). Are there any “Likeness-scenes” in The Space Between? If so, identify them and address their function within the progression of the film as well as their possible effects on the viewer’s experience of the film.