Time, Death, and Change — An analysis about Marc Foster’s ‘Stranger Than Fiction.”



What if your life is written by a writer who loves to write nothing…but death? What would you do? And what if you figure out that you’re the writer of someone else’s life and the reason of his imminent death? Will you change it?

Entertaining yet questionnable. This is how I look at the story of “Stranger than Fiction” by Marc Foster in 2011. Because in the real world, no one can dictate of when a person’s life ends. But it also makes me think, that yes…people make their own destiny. In fact, we decide whether how many strokes we do in brushing our teeth, or how would we do our necktie, or decide not to like cookies. In short, we are the creator of our story. But is it true that we control the calculation of our time? Certainly not. But this movie says what if? What if someone literally writes our story? Based on the moods that Karen Eiffel have in her stories, I bet you would not want her to be your writer. But Mr. Harold has no choice, no one has the choice. Except when he chooses to accept that he’s really going to die.

Most people value their time, that’s why they have their wristwatch to keep them on track. The constant ringing and lighting of Harold’s wristwatch symbolizes a person’s life run by time. Everything can happen in just seconds. And because of the fast-paced of time, people can’t contain to pause even for a little while and appreciate the simple things in life — like Mr. Harold. As a person, he does have a boring life, dealing with the same routine everyday. He wakes up in the morning preparing for work himself, going to work auditing taxes, answering his co-worker’s mathematical equation, sets up his alarm clock every night, then repeating that process again and again. He is so attached with numbers that he even sets a specific number of steps that he would run in the bus. He sees life as a rigid structure being constant. Until one day, he learned that his life is planned by a seemingly sad author whose masterpiece is about tragedy and death.

Karen Eiffel is a well-known author who has written several books about death, who happens to be the author of Harold’s life. Looking Karen, you will not wonder of why she loves to write movies about tragedy. She looks wasted and lost. She always thrive for the best, not just good. She’s writing her new book about Harold Crick, whom without her knowledge do exist. Does Karen Eiffel represents God? In the course of being the decision-maker of Harold’s life, she certainly is. But God is perfect. If he’s in a human’s body, I bet he will not consume his life by smoking packs of cigarettes everyday. But Karen’s novels are pretty real. Because the truth is, everyone’s going to die. And finding the perfect scene of how she’s going to kill him is the hardest part of her writings. Especially when she learned that the character that she’s been writing about do exist. And God does. He knows every single person in the planet. But does God writes a person’s fate in the process? Or is it already finished before a person’s birth? One thing that I doubt about. And what if a person has the ability as Karen? The ability to write and alter someone’s fate? Would life be more happier and fulfilling? This is one of the idea that the movie is building up

. Harold’s life cycle changed when he met Anna Pascal, the revolutionist who hates Harold’s job of course. She always think about how she can help to build a better world. Though she had all the chance to have a higher-class job, she chose to bake cookies instead because she knows that she’s doing something that can help other people be in a better position. In short, she is the opposite of Harold. Meeting her has a purpose. It is the first time that she appreciated the taste of life through the cookies that Ann baked. Cookies are not cookies perse. Other people, after a long day from work or from school, can be re-energized by cookies. It is because they appreciate the delight feeling that it brings them.

“Little did he know…”, the statement that Karen uses in Harold’s story. But little did she know that he already has a knowledge about what’s going to happen next. But little did we know when we’re going to die. No one knows when and how we’ll end in this world.

Can we stop death? Certainly not. Even does when Harold stayed in his apartment doing nothing, fate came to him. What is written on the book of fate cannot be stopped by simply avoiding it. No one can, except God. After meeting Anna and after finding Ms. Eiffel, Harold’s perspective towards life has changed. When Ms. Eiffel handed him the copy of her story about him, although at first he was afraid of reading the part of his death scene, he still conquered his fear. And instead of insisting to Ms. Eiffel to change the written fate, he said, “I read it and I loved it. And there is only one way it can end. It ends me dying”. Because the his death will cause the survival of a boy whose riding a bicycle from crashing to a bus.

How a person is, if he’s good or bad affects his fate. Karen already has the idea of how she would kill Harold, but that changed when she learned Harold’s heart. When she’s asked about why she altered the plot of her story, she said that Harold’s the type of guy that she would want to keep. But what if Harold’s a bad guy? I bet his already dead after that bus hit.

It’s not only Harold who has changed, but the author herself, Ms. Eiffel also learned something from him. Through Harold, Ms. Eiffel learned to appreciate the life of the characters in each of her novels and the person who has never left her side, her secretary. Harold’s accident on the bus can kill him and can impossibly keep him alive. He’s been injured in several parts of his body and even the doctor said that it was a miracle after his wristwatch saved him from imminent death. It only proves that nothing can change a written story about someone’s fate — not even a bus hit.

This is certainly a must-watched movie not only because of the story’s uniqueness, but also because you will certainly learn from it.

“Sometimes when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Bavarian sugar cookies…” – Foster.

At the down times of a person’s life, he’s able to pause for a while that makes him see even the tiniest things such as the bavarian sugar cookies, or the touch from a familiar hand, and he’s able to appreciate it. Because little do a person know that he’s been too consumed by time that he forgets how to live.


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