What are good movies with narrators?

Narration is out of fashion at the moment. Audiences think it reeks of someone talking down to them, explaining the plot instead of letting it play out in front of them and trusting them to get it. (This is why Idiocracy and kid’s movies are narrated.) It also comes as the result of horrible editing jobs, explaining plots that have been hacked and mutilated beyond all recognition. (Plan 9 From Outer Space might qualify for this, but I don’t know if that thing’s plot ever made much sense.)

In art, however, it’s the exception that remains exceptional: The better sequel, the rewrite that improves, and the good movie with narration. What are the exceptions to this rule of thumb?

Seems like most of Clint Eastwood’s recent films have narrators. And they are generally Morgan Freeman.

not an Eastwood flick but Freeman on narration Shawshank Redemption.

Right. I forgot that one. It was at least OK.

Tim R. Mortiss: I don’t think I’ve seen any of those.

OK, the film is likely to be at least good if Morgan Freeman’s narrating it. That makes sense.

Do you consider Fight Club and American Beauty good movies? Those were the first that came to my mind.

I suppose the most obvious example of all would be La Jetée, which I would certainly rank among the greatest films of all time. It’s entirely narrated.

I kind of liked the narration in the original version of Blade Runner. Yeah, it wasn’t necessary to understand the plot, but I liked the way that it enhanced the *film noir *feel of the film.

In general, if you use narration as a crutch, that’s a bad thing. But if you use it as an extra layer of context or of feeling, it is a positive.

Unless my memory deceives me, both “Million Dollar Baby” and “Flags of Our Fathers” have heavy doses of narration.


Since Fight Club and Goodfellas have already been mentioned, I’ll throw out A Christmas Story and Never Cry Wolf.

Blade Runner is my 2nd favorite film after Brazil, and I agree with you. I like the narration in the original version.

A bit off topic: When I watch *Blade Runner *now, I think, “Well, they got that wrong! They thought people would be allowed to SMOKE in the future!”

I’ll throw out Stalag 17, which had a heavy narration. The character that did the talking (Cookie) was a toady for William Holden’s character (Sefton).

Kind Hearts and Coronets
Sunset Blvd
Jules and Jim
A Clockwork Orange
Apocalypse Now

Some of Woody Allen’s movies were narrated, and I think they were pretty good…I’m thinking of Take the Money and Run and Radio Days, particularly.

Also, Casino, which was narrated.

Sunset Boulevard.

A Clockwork Orange
All the King’s Men
The Man Who Wasn’t There
Jane Eyre (1944)
Sunset Boulevard
The Lord of the Rings (all three parts)
Million Dollar Baby
Bang the Drum Slowly
The Incredible Shrinking Man
Double Indemnity
Ace in the Hole
Days of Heaven
The Time Machine (1960)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Barefoot Contessa
The Boy with Green Hair
All About Eve
Forrest Gump
A Letter to Three Wives
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
How Green Was My Valley
The War of the Worlds (1953)
Russian Ark
It Came from Outer Space
The Great Gatsby (1974)
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
The Magnificent Ambersons
Last Year at Marienbad
Mildred Pierce
Bonjour Tristesse
The Wild Child
The Spirit of St. Louis
The Story of Adele H.
Moby Dick (1956)
Portrait of Jennie
Diary of Country Priest
The Story of G.I. Joe
Our Town (1940)

Little Big Man
Madame Bovary (1949)
The Glass Menagerie (1950)
The Phenix City Story
The Day of the Jackal
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Three Faces of Eve
The Power and the Glory
Lolita (1962)

Your search skipped Gilda, Walloon. One of the great narrations.

I’ve never seen Gilda.

The Magnificent Ambersons and *Kind Hearts and Coronets *have already been mentioned and I think they’re my favourites. However, I would add Michael Hordern’s wonderful narration for *Barry Lyndon * as being perfect for that movie, lending just that perfect note of ironic distance, yet his voice has that gorgeous inherent kindness which stops the narration just short of being unbearably cold. Plus, as with Welles, the sheer beauty of just hearing the human voice deployed to its full expressiveness by a top quality actor shows just how much a really good narrator can add.

How about The Royal Tenenbaums?