It is more than likely you have watched a movie that had some voiceover narration. This is not an entirely uncommon format for movies, but it is not as popular as it once was. However, there are good reasons for film makers to consider the use of a voiceover talent for the purpose of narration.
Move the Story Along Perhaps the most popular reason for narration, whether in film or on stage, is to progress the storyline. The narrator may offer bits of information that would not be gleaned otherwise. He or she may create a smoother transition between scenes, or just explain how a character came to be at a new location. Very common in theater, this type of narration is also very effective on screen. Consider the hugely successful film, Shawshank Redemption. Without the narration, it would have fallen short of its true brilliance. Some of my most interesting work has been done for film.
Setting the Scene Whether it is because the story takes place in another realm, another time, or at an otherwise unexpected location, writers can use narration for the purpose of explaining the setting. This can be done well, and it can also fall flat. That is why it is very important for the writer to consider how much- and in what manner the voiceover talent speaks.
A Touch of Humor Snarky, witty language is beloved by modern audiences. Handled in the correct manner, voiceover narration can provide a healthy dose of this. It can be offered up to compliment humorous scenes in a film, or to lighten the mood after a heavy scene. The ‘all-knowing’ narrator can provide a great deal of information about the various characters in a funny way that will keep audiences riveted.
To Cause Internal Reflection It has not been done often, but we have certainly seen this done very successfully. Consider the raving reviews of Clockwork Orange for instance. With the right voiceover talent, the right script, and the right timing, narration can draw the viewer into the movie, making him or her question ethics, morality, how he or she might respond if presented with the situation in real life.
Voiceover artists can offer a great deal to movie makers. Narration is most definitely worth consideration.