Narrative Signposting in French Connection II

French_connection_ii

Commonly the construction of a compelling narrative utilizes a “signposting” device in order to draw-in or hook the audience. One signposting technique entails offering a glimpse of the difficulties a character will encounter in their forthcoming narrative. In French Connection II (1975), “Popeye” Doyle’s fish out of water status is alluded to in the first few scenes after his arrival in Marseilles. As this is a sequel, and in its narrative style character-driven rather than action-driven, the foregrounding of the ensuring difficulties overtly allude to the first film’s story. On the streets of New York, Doyle understands the language, culture and customs of the people he encountered on the streets. However, in Marseilles he doesn’t speak the language, nor understand the way things are done.

In French Connection (1971) Doyle, shaking a club down, drags a suspect violently through the bar into the toilets. The suspect is in fact an undercover cop and the display performed to ensure the verisimilitude of the undercover cop’s cover. This elaborate scene indicates the knowledge and savvy Doyle, and his fellow agents, have in breaching the inner-ring of criminal associations. This scene, and Doyle’s general street smarts, is alluded to in French Connection IIbut inverted to communicate that Doyle is currently out of his depth and, in the upcoming narrative, will have to learn fast to adapt to the surrounding culture – So that he can succeed in his mission in bringing back Alain Charnier (Frog One) to American shores and American justice.

 

The most important early contrasting scene, which alludes to both Doyle’s former street smarts and current cultural alienation, comes after an explosion. The suspect, who easily evades the French police, is chased after frantically by Doyle. The foot chase ends with Doyle catching up to the suspect and attempting to wrestle him to the ground. However, the suspect, and the reason why the French police made no real effort to apprehend him, is a undercover police officer. Doyle’s chase exposes the undercover police officer to a criminal boss and the undercover police officer is killed. This scene comes very close to the beginning, similar to the contrasting one in French Connection, and is utilized to indicate how Doyle is currently out of his depth, it also facilitates and signposts the forthcoming narratives direction – that of Doyle’s growth and adaptation to Marseilles’ cultural climate in order to finally bring down Charnier.

Published by

A.R. Duckworth

South Yorkshire England

One thought on “Narrative Signposting in French Connection II”

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