[Quick Summary: Surveillance expert thinks his recording of a private conversation might predict a murder.]
Here's how the story opens:
- Harry Caul is a surveillance expert who likes the chase of getting a recording.
- His job is to record and deliver. He doesn't pay attention to the substance of the conversation.
- He gets a job following and recording a man and woman as they talk in a park.
- Unfortunately, he can only record bits and pieces of that conversation.
- It's rather mundane lovers' talk.
Before he can deliver the recording to the client, others try to steal it.
Why would others want such a mundane recording?
These bits and pieces of conversation surface again and again at odd times. The longer Harry has to wait to deliver the recording, the more it haunts him.
I know that repetition of a single conversation isn't an unusual technique.
However, I was intrigued how it is used here, like a ghost.
Harry usually ignored the substance of his recordings, but this time, he paid attention, and heard a few disturbing clues.
Now he can't get it out of his mind (haunting). It causes him to takes action to verify the clues, make conclusions and assumptions.
In short, it drives him forward. (Perhaps it's an antagonist too?)
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: I've never seen repetition of a conversation used like an impetus, i.e., something that drives the character forward.
The Conversation (1974)
by Francis Ford Coppola