Fictional and dramatic elements

Fictional and dramatic
Unit 2
Film Analysis and literary
Films are stories!
They share many of the same elements that a short story
would possess
However, film depends mostly on visual and other
nonverbal elements
a good story is unified in
Unified in Plot
the plot should contribute to the theme
focuses on a single thread of continuous action
one event leads to another naturally and logically
Episodic plot
when the focus is on a unique character
events that bear no direct relationship to each other
helps understand the character being developed
A good story is credible...
Externally Observable Truths: The way things really are
evidence of the world around us
ex: Rain Man or Hotel Rwanda
Hotel Rwanda trailer
supposed to be.
fairy-tale or happily-ever-after ending
good guy always wins and true love conquers all
poetic justice: virtue will be rewarded and evil
ex: Ever After and Pirates of the Caribbean
Ever After trailer
Artistic Semblance of Truth: The way things were and
never will be
imaginary worlds, fantastic environments, another
time, or unusual characters
provides a new set of ground rules by which we
judge reality
Ex: Fifth Element or Men in Black
The Fifth Element trailer
A good story is
it must capture and hold our interest for a set amount of
suspense- excite our curiosity or tempt us with unanswered
action- either external (The Last of the Mohicans) or
internal which may be psychological or emotional
The Last of the Mohicans trailer
A good story is simple &
must be easy enough for most viewers to follow but must be
complex to keep the interest of viewers that do not like an
easy script
a surprise ending works great when the plot prepares us for
it (The Sixth Sense) but the viewer should gain insight
a tough balance between too simple and too complex
The Sixth Sense trailer
A good story is not too
some viewers reject sentimental films that are too over the
top (The Bridges of Madison County or Nights in Rodanthe)
emotional material is best kept understated (To Kill a
the musical score can communicate emotions
Nights in Rodanthe trailer
dramatic structure
Linear or chronological structure
each story has a definite beginning and ending
uses exposition, conflict, climax, and conclusion in a
logical way
ex: The Ice Princess
Nonlinear Structure
story elements are not arranged chronologically
stories can begin in media res which is Latin for “in
the middle”
flashbacks- exposition is built up throughout the
story instead of just at the beginning building
interest (Casablanca)
flashforward- jumps from the present into the
the mainspring of the story
has a high degree of complexity
external- struggles between characters or outside forces
(Cast Away or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)
internal- psychological conflict within the central character
(Donnie Darko or A Beautiful Mind)
Donnie Darko trailer
“You can only involve an audience with people. You can’t
involve them with gimmicks, with sunsets, with hand-held
cameras, zoom shots, or anything else. They couldn’t care
less about those things. But you give them something to
worry about, some person they can worry about, and care
about, and you’ve got them, you’ve got them involved.”
Frank Capra, Director
Through appearance...
We make assumptions about characters based on their facial
features, dress, physical build, and mannerisms.
Erin Brockovich trailer
Through dialogue...
We learn a great deal about characters based on what they
say and how they say it
Through action...
External/Internal Action
The best reflections of character are a person’s actions
There is a clear relationship between a character and
his/her actions
Inner action occurs within characters’ minds and
emotions (daydreams, thoughts, aspirations, memories,
fears, fantasies)
What Dreams May Come trailer
Through Contrast...
Dramatic foils- contrasting characters whose behavior,
attitudes, opinions, lifestyle, physical appearance, are the
opposite of the main character
Billy Budd trailer
Notice how Billy and the Master of Arms contrast each other
in appearance and voice.
Through caricature...
caricature- exaggerate or distort one or more dominant
features or personality traits
This could be voices or appearances (Homer Simpson’s voice
and “chubbiness” :) The Simpsons clip
Through leitmotif...
leitmotif- repetition of a single action, phrase, or idea by a
character until it becomes almost a trademark or theme
song for that character
Example Clint Eastwood in Blood Work continuously grabs
his chest because of a heart transplant...he plays a toughbut-aging her and displays vulnerability
Types of characters
Stock characters- minor characters whose actions are
Developing characters- major characters affected by the
plot; undergo some sort of change (Rick in Casablanca and
the Duchess in The Illusionist)
Static characters- remain the same throughout the film (the
Prince in The Illusionist and Laszlo in Casablanca)
Flat vs. round
Flat characters- two-dimensional, predictable who lack
complexity (the brother in Field of Dreams)
Round characters- three-dimensional who are unique,
individualistic with some degree of complexity and
ambiguity (Kim in Edward Scissorhands)
a story in which every object, event, and person has an
abstract meaning
The Crucible and High Noon- The McCarthy hearings
Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm- how power corrupts
Symbol- something that stands for something else
Can be charged by repetition, value, context, special visual
Universal symbols- the cross (Christianity) and the flag
Irony- linking of opposites
Dramatic irony- the filmmaker provides the audience with
information that a character lacks
We all know Abigail is lying but the rest of the characters do
not in The Crucible
We know that Bruce Wayne is Batman in The Dark Knight
but no one else does :)
Dark Knight Trailer
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