“The source-path-goal schema in the autobiographical journey documentary: McElwee, Van der Keuken, Cole.” The New Review of Film and Television Studies 4: 241-261.
Abstract: The source-path-goal schema is one of the most fundamental schemas governing human conceptualizing with regard to sense-making (Johnson 1993, Turner 1996). Literally structuring the concept of the journey (involving a starting point, trajectory, and destination), by extension it shapes our understanding of what constitutes a purposeful life (initial problems or ambition, actions, solution or achievement) and story (beginning, middle, end). Hitherto, discussions of this schema have almost exclusively focused on its verbal manifestations. This paper analyses three autobiographical documentaries in which the filmmaker undertakes a journey: Ross McElwee’s Sherman’s March (1986), Johan van der Keuken’s De Grote Vakantie [The Long Holiday] (2001), and Frank Cole’s Life Without Death (1999). The paper’s aim is double-edged: to demonstrate the necessity of studying the source-path-goal schema in multimodal, rather than just in purely verbal manifestations; and to show how the source-path-goal schema both enriches and constrains possible interpretations of the three documentaries under consideration. It is moreover claimed that, in the last resort, journey and quest levels are inevitably made subservient to the story level. Keywords: Autobiographical journey documentary, story-telling, metaphor, identity-construction, Ross McElwee, Johan van der Keuken, Frank Cole.
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