Imagine you wake one ordinary morning, yet there is something not quite right. There is a voice that you keep hearing. A voice that is describing your every move. Welcome to Harold Crick’s world. Harold, the main character of this comedy, allows the viewer to explore the concept of reality. Harold believes that his world is the reality, yet how can this be when he has his own personal narrator capable of ending his story and life simply by stating it. The film, Stranger than Fiction, (2006), addresses the philosophical issue of epistemology, which is defined as questioning one’s knowledge of the world and what is perceived as reality, (Falzon, 2002). It explores questions that are hard to answer and explore concepts and themes that many would rather leave alone.
Initially, all seems well. Harold goes about his life is the usual fashion. He has a firm grasp and understanding of his own reality. Harold Crick is an IRS auditor who appears to lead an ordinary yet mundane life. As stated earlier, Harold’s routine based life is interrupted one morning when he wakes to discover that his every move, action and thought is narrated to him in advance. He soon discovers that this narrator is none other than a fictional novel writer on the path to finishing her book. However, by finishing the book, she sets out to end her character and therefore Harold’s life.
Throughout this whole production, Harold becomes aware of how the course of events he experiences are leading him to the perceived end of his life. He is forced to consider his choices and the impact on his quality of life. This discovery also forces a change to occur in regard to his perception and knowledge of his reality.
Harold’s realization of his non-reality and the knowledge he gains can be argued as being a deliberate construction by the author of his life story, Karen Eiffel. With this is mind, the film Stranger than Fiction provides audiences with an example of the conflict between ‘what is thought to be known, and what is actually known’, (Rowlands, 2005). Harold Crick’s perception of the story is what is thought to be known, while the author Karen Eiffel has the knowledge of what is actually going to happen.
Stranger than Fiction, portrays two realities to the audience. On the one hand Harold Crick perceives his world and life as the reality, yet so too does author Karen Eiffel. It brings to light questions of reality, how do you judge what is real? As well as questioning one’s own reality, are you dreaming or is it real? This philosophical theme can also be linked into ethics; through an exploration into questions such as can you be held responsible for your actions in a society where you cannot judge facts from imagined circumstances? What steps would you take to alter your life path? Could your actions truly change the future? Despite being a rather inexplicable plot line, the overall theme of the film hits home. What changes or choices would you make if you were to discover exactly how your life would unfold?
Falzon. C. (2002). Philosophy goes to the Movies – An Introduction to Philosophy. London: Routledge.
Rowlands. M. (2005). The Philosopher at the end of the Universe – Philosophy explained through Science Fictions Films. London: Elbury Press.