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-   -   Fatal Flaw? (http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/showthread.php?t=54124)

instant_karma 03-30-2010 03:49 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Hey Jim

I haven't seen The Lives of Others yet, but I'm not really sold on the other examples you mentioned.

In Zombieland, I would say that Columnbus is definitely the protagonist, rather than the girls (they even serve as antagonists, albeit briefly). When the girls go their own way and wind up in trouble, he's the one who decides to go look for them and guilt trips Tallahassee into helping him. He is the proactive character.

I dont buy that the girls are the protagonists by virtue of tryng to reach the safety of the West Coast. Only the younger of the two girls actually believes that there is safety left in their world. All the characters share the same goal, which is simple survival, and trying to make sense of the new world they find themselves in.

With The Terminator, I see Reese's role as being similar to Obi-Wan's in Star Wars. He's there to protect the protagonist (Sarah Connor) and fill her in on the bigger world that has just opened up to her. If you take the Joseph Campbell slant, Reese is The Wise Old Man, teaching Sarah how to make the explosives is his handing out the Magical Weapons, just like Obi-Wan with the lightsaber.

And just as with Star Wars, it is the protagonist (Sarah Connor) who vanquishes the Antagonist (The Terminator) with the wisdom and weapons given to them by the mentor figure.

On a completely unrelated note, I have discovered that I cannot type the words Sarah Connor, without hearing Arnold Schwarzenegger saying it in my head.

instant_karma 03-30-2010 03:56 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JimHull (Post 631995)
LOL, nice one dmizzo - The problems in "Casablanca" exist because there are two letters of transit that have gone missing. Letters of transit that Lazlo was going to use to get to America. Everyone wants those letters, but it is Lazlo who is driving the pursuit towards them (both because he is in Casablanca and because he wants them for his own self-interest). Strasser is actively trying to prevent that from happening (Antagonist). Once Lazlo gets those letters, the problems in the story are resolved and the film is over.

The Main Character - the one we experience the story through is Rick. Through him we get to feel what it is like to be someone who goes from an attitude of not sticking their neck out for anyone, to someone willing to take action for the benefit of others.

I could well be getting this all wrong, but the main message I'm seeing here is that you believe that whoever wants something the most is the Protagonist.

In The Terminator, that would make The Terminator the Protagonist because what it really really wants is to kill Sarah Connor. In fact, it's the sole purpose of it's existence. And this would make Reese the Antagonist, because he is standing in the way of that goal.

I know this is surely something of an oversimplification of what you're trying to teach, but I think I can see why the OP was getting a bit muddled up.

Steven Jenkins 03-30-2010 04:08 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by dmizzo (Post 631992)
Victor Laszlo is the protagonist? Those are some serious semantic gymnastics you're attempting, Jim. Try not to pull something.

What does Ric ACTIVELY do in most of movie to advance the External action plot, except feel sorry for himself? Nothing until the final scene at the airport. :) Lazlo is the prime mover of the action - his presance, his influence his wife, and all the frantic activity these generate. It's Lazlo's cause (once Rik's) that Rik finally rallies to after he's solved his INTERNAL issue.

So Rik - internal struggle
Lazlo - external struggle

External struggles (for a noble cause) are surely what indicate a protagonist?

Lazlo was prepared to sacrifice his life for the struggle

Rik didn't stick his neck out... etc etc

But Rik has an ARC , while Lazlo doesn't. Does that make Rik the true Protag, AND MC? Or just the MC. ?
If Lazlo is just the mentor who gives Rik (other than his wife) the call to adventure, then the whole movie is just a first ACt

THANKS Instant :D You came to the same conclusion I did for the same reasons. :)

JimHull 03-30-2010 04:11 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
No, you could definitely convince me. I've been wrong before. You can search "Children of Men" on my site for a good example where a reader pointed out flaws in my initial analysis. My initial understanding of "The Wrestler" was wrong as well. (As was my use of "Casablanca" as not being an adaptation).

I guess this goes back to my initial reason for popping my head in here: the confusion some writers encounter when they try to write Main Characters who don't drive the efforts towards resolving the story's central problem. Save the Cat! and McKee require that writers write "willful protagonists" - this runs counter to some writer's intuition and runs up against some of the films I provided as examples.

A neophyte writer trying to write "Casablanca" might struggle with the idea that he has a character that doesn't stick his neck out for anyone yet also has to be responsible for driving the plot forward. While you could argue that Rick does some of this towards the end of the film, in the beginning he could care less.

That's why I think it is important that writers find comfort in knowing that they can separate out the concepts of Protagonist and Main Character if they want to. You don't have to. There are great films where they are one and the same (Up In The Air, The Wrestler, Silence of the Lambs, Braveheart, The Godfather, and so on), but there are many who start out writing their story, then find they struggle with who is really driving things and who the audience feels they are.

Understanding the difference between the two opens up a world of possibilities.

JeffLowell 03-30-2010 04:26 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Steven Jenkins (Post 632008)
What does Ric ACTIVELY do in most of movie to advance the plot, except feel sorry for himself? Nothing until the final scene at the airport. :) Lazlo is the prime mover of the action - his presance, his influence his wife, and all the frantic activity these generate.

"Presence" isn't an action, nor is the response it generates. He tries and fails to get Rick to give him the letters.

Rick hides the letters; Rick refuses to admit he has them (risking his own neutral status by doing so); Rick tells his band to go ahead and play the French National Anthem, getting his club shut down in the process (Laszlo asks, but they won't do it unless Rick tells them to); Rick decides to give the letters to Laszlo so he can flee to safety; then he comes up with and executes the plan to get Laszlo and Ilsa to safety, again, risking his own life and freedom.

(Besides, the letters aren't what the movie is about - they're the MacGuffin.)

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hull
A neophyte writer trying to write "Casablanca" might struggle with the idea that he has a character that doesn't stick his neck out for anyone yet also has to be responsible for driving the plot forward. While you could argue that Rick does some of this towards the end of the film, in the beginning he could care less.

Again, he's hiding the letters and ordering his band to play the anthem long before the end of the movie. He starts the movie claiming he could care less, but it's clear very early that that's not true. It's clear when Ilsa walks into his bar.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hull
That's why I think it is important that writers find comfort in knowing that they can separate out the concepts of Protagonist and Main Character if they want to.

Honestly, I still haven't heard one example by you or Steven where it actually happens. Having a narrator, or empathizing with another character, doesn't make the protagonist not the main character, IMO.

Quote:

Understanding the difference between the two opens up a world of possibilities.
Or confuses the heck out of people.

Steven Jenkins 03-30-2010 04:45 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JeffLowell (Post 632012)
"Rick hides the letters; .

Ok - but for a noble cause, or simply to force the issue with Ilsa and get closure on his internal problem?

Rik's actions with the national anthem was reactive, he didn't initiate it the episode.

Rik is deffinitely the hero of his internal struggle, then becomes the hero of the external struggle - both protag and MC.

Actually, I guess that the final image of Rik walking off into the 'sunset' with renault (instead of Lazlo flying into the blue with Ilsa, or Lazlo & Rik flying off into the blue withour that two-timing bitch Ilsa) underlines that the writer wanted us to see Rik as the hero - and therefore the Protag.

I guess you're right after all :)

JeffLowell 03-30-2010 04:53 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
No matter what the last image would have been, Rick's the protag. You could have ended it with Ilsa looking down and it wouldn't have changed that.

Earlier, Jim said "Once Lazlo gets those letters, the problems in the story are resolved and the film is over." This is really the crux of why I disagree - no one really gives a shit whether or not Laszlo gets the letters. No one is following that, or wondering if he will. They want to know if Rick will get Ilsa. When he makes that decision, the movie is over.

Do you think people walked out of the movie saying "thank god Laszlo got away" or "I can't believe that Rick put her on the plane"?

JimHull 03-30-2010 05:19 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Which is why Rick is the Main Character and Lazlo is the Protagonist.

There is a difference between the audience's reception of a story and the work of fiction itself.

Sure, the audience doesn't care much whether Lazlo gets away or not (I would argue that from a logical standpoint they do), but within the story itself -- the players inside of the story - they care a great deal. In fact, it is what everyone in the story is concerned with - from Strasser to Ugarte to Ilsa to everyone - those letters and who ends up with them are a very important concern to them and the source of problems within the story.

Stories are about resolving problems - understanding what those problems specifically are can help one determine how best to craft an effective argument for how to go about resolving them.

Your attachment to Rick as the only one the audience cares about speaks to the fact that he is the Main Character - that we are him throughout the course of the story (empathy).

As far as the confusion with the narrator, I think you're missing the point that these narrators have deep emotional issues going on with them that go far beyond just telling the story. The thematic concerns that Red and Scout deal with are an essential part of the story's meaning - they are not separate from it. Scout deals with her own personal problems with racism (in her dealings with Boo) and Red deals with his own personal issues stemming from the fact that he has become institutionalized. These very personal viewpoints on the story's central problem are reflected in the larger overall story that everyone is concerned with (the racist attitudes present in the trial in Mockinbird, and the corrupt hopeless situation that keeps Andy unjustly locked away).

The Protagonist carries the logical argument of the story, the Main Character carries the emotional argument.

jonpiper 03-30-2010 05:46 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Nobody has talked about the protag's character arc, unless I missed it. Rick went from a guy who doesn't give a **** about anything, to a guy whose unrequited love pops into his life, stirring deep emotions, to a hero who sacrifices his love and happiness for the greater cause.

Did Laslo arc?

Many stories have protags who don't arc. But can you have a non-protag character who arcs as much as Rick did?

The story was mostly about Rick. We witnessed his journey. We identified with him throughout the story. Not so with Laslo.

JeffLowell 03-30-2010 05:47 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Jim:

Casablanca is a love story between Rick and Ilsa, not a story about a resistance leader trying to escape the Nazis. To say that Laszlo is the protagonist is missing the point of the entire movie. We empathize with Rick because we're following his journey as he pursues Ilsa.

You could design a movie where Laszlo is the protag, and his girlfriend falls in love with the man who has the key to his escape and he has to figure out how to use that to get out of the country... but that's not even remotely close to the movie that exists.

One other point:

Quote:

In fact, it is what everyone in the story is concerned with - from Strasser to Ugarte to Ilsa to everyone - those letters and who ends up with them are a very important concern to them and the source of problems within the story.
[...]

Quote:

The Protagonist carries the logical argument of the story, the Main Character carries the emotional argument.
I see exactly why Steven thinks that some antagonists are the protagonists of the story, given your definition.

Die Hard. McClane is completely reactive regarding the robbery: he stumbles into it, and by luck isn't captured. He doesn't try to solve it himself - he waits for help, calls for help, kills in self defense.. it's not until late in the movie that he actually actively tries to solve the problem himself.

The contents of the vault and whether or not Hans ends up with them is the problem that everyone in the story concerns themselves with: Hans, McClane, the police and FBI. Hans begins the story by actively showing up and seeking the vault, then spends the story overcoming obstacles to the money.

Obviously Hans isn't the protag, but your definition certainly leaves that possibility open.

The mechanics of the MacGuffin (the contents of a vault, letters of transit) shouldn't define who you label your protag.

dmizzo 03-30-2010 05:50 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JimHull (Post 632019)
The Protagonist carries the logical argument of the story, the Main Character carries the emotional argument.

Seems like if you twist the meaning of protagonist enough, you can make it support almost any theory, so I'm not going to argue over definitions. I think yours is wrong, but I give. Define it however you want.

I will say this about Casablanca though: if you actually set out to write it with the notion that Laszlo is the protagonist, I don't think you'd end up with the movie we all know. For one thing, you'd probably have him do more stuff than sing a song, get arrested and have some bar owner save his ass.

I mean, Ilsa goes back to face a jilted lover, pulls a gun on him, and ultimately convinces him to stick his neck out for her. Maybe she's the protagonist?

But whatever we call Laszlo, can we at least spell the guy's name right?

dmizzo 03-30-2010 05:53 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Damnit, Lowell beat me. Let's just all agree he's the antagonist, and call it a day.

JimHull 03-30-2010 06:01 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
I would argue that Casablanca is both a love story between Rick and Ilsa AND a story about a resistance leader trying to escape the Nazis. The former is the heart of the story, the latter is the head of the story (logical argument). The both work in concert to create meaning. This is why it stands the test of time. Many stories, especially nowadays, leave out the heart of the story and concentrate solely on the logical side of things.

Your example of Lazlo as protagonist is actually an example of him as Main Character. I certainly don't think he's the Main Character of the story.

jonpiper 03-30-2010 06:14 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JimHull (Post 632026)
I would argue that Casablanca is both a love story between Rick and Ilsa AND a story about a resistance leader trying to escape the Nazis. The former is the heart of the story, the latter is the head of the story (logical argument). The both work in concert to create meaning. This is why it stands the test of time. Many stories, especially nowadays, leave out the heart of the story and concentrate solely on the logical side of things.

Your example of Lazlo as protagonist is actually an example of him as Main Character. I certainly don't think he's the Main Character of the story.

If Casablanca is two stories, then why not argue that Rick is the protagonist of the love story and Laszlo (sorry about the previous misspelling :o ) is the protag of the resistance story?

JeffLowell 03-30-2010 06:28 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
A love story is not an emotional, internal or "heart" story. Rick is pursuing a tangible thing: a person. Ilsa.

Yes, there are multiple stories going on, but Rick and Ilsa's story is what drives the entire plot of the movie. If Rick didn't love Ilsa, he would just hand over the letters and be clean of the entire mess. He would have his purported goal - neutrality - back. There is only a movie because he doesn't want to see Ilsa leave with Laszlo.

But he doesn't hand over the letters. He's caught in a love triangle, complicated by the fact that he's sympathetic to Laszlo's mission - and so is the woman he loves. It's a genius love triangle, but that's what the movie is.

I was afraid to say this and open up another front in the war, but I think dmizzo is right - Laszlo is the antagonist. He is what stands in the way of Rick and what he wants.

Steven Jenkins 03-30-2010 06:37 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
LOL

here comes another one.

Rick is Lazlo's antagonist (he refuses to give him the letters) Not Strasse. Which makes Lazlo the protagonist of the fight against fascism angle.

Ilsa is Rick's antagonist, as she stands in the way of his emotional healing, which makes Rick the protagonist of the love story.

Strasse doesn't become the antagonist until he tries to stop the airplane from leaving (before this he's merely a nuisance - he doesn't even arrest Lazlo, or Rick). Strasse only becomes the single antagonist after Lazlo, Rick and Ilsa patch-up their differences.

Rick then becomse a double hero by overcoming both Ilsa and then Strasse. So is it that Rick only becomes the protag of both stories AFTER he overcomes his own battle - even more heroic than the exemplory (and european) Lazlo?

Do these two stories echo the conflicts of 1940's USA - refusing to get involved in the war because of bad memories from the ww1, then overcoming that to pick up the fight against fascism. (I'm assuming the stageplay was written before the US did commit).

mikeb 03-30-2010 06:59 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Is this thread serious? Does this actually exist in the Internet somewhere? Does a guy who TEACHES film really want to argue the point that EFFING LAZLO is the PROTAGONIST of CASABLANCA?

This entire thread should be nuked, people should be banned, mothers should hide their children, because if people from the Internets find this thread, no one will take Done Deal Pro seriously ever again and the world as we know it will end.

What a ridiculous notion. I've heard some genuinely subjective arguments toward film structure, but never one as off the wall as that. Good lord...

Richmond Weems 03-30-2010 08:10 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
No, no, no...we're halfway there.

HH

gravitas 03-30-2010 08:28 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JeffLowell (Post 631910)
I take it all back about Dramatica. I found a really easy to use chart that made it all make sense.

http://storymind.com/free-downloads/ddomain.pdf

Holy fvck!

Biohazard 03-30-2010 08:28 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
The protagonist is the main character.

Casablanca - Rick's story
Star Wars - Luke's story
The Terminator - Sarah's story
The Godfather - Michael's story

wcmartell 03-30-2010 09:32 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
I haven't entered into this coversation because I ran out of mushrooms and can't find my last two panes of blotter.

- Bill

NikeeGoddess 03-30-2010 09:43 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Biohazard (Post 632054)
The protagonist is the main character.

not always. see my examples a couple of pages back.
shawshank redemption
road to perdition
million dollar baby
to kill a mockingbird
training day

all of these (and i'm sure there are many others) where there's a main character in a story told by the protagonist through voice over.

joe9alt 03-30-2010 09:51 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by wcmartell (Post 632069)
I haven't entered into this coversation because I ran out of mushrooms and can't find my last two panes of blotter.

- Bill

I am worried about Lowell.

He may end up rocking in the corner of some asylum thinking he's an orange for the rest of his life after this one.

:speechless:

asjah8 03-30-2010 10:05 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
i really don't get what's so complicated about this. million dollar baby is frankie's story (eastwood), maggie is the antagonist, and we learn of frankie's journey through eddie's perspective (freeman); because, he's a character that's able to analyze both the protag and the antag from both a personal and non-biased perspective (ie., directing through pov). i think jeff is right, this basic foundational concept has just been waaay over-analyzed.

JeffLowell 03-30-2010 10:31 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Laszlo... Laszlo... Laszlo... Laszlo...

billmarq 03-31-2010 12:14 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Wasn't the play originally titled, Everyone Comes to Laszlo's?

No, wait ... :)

TwoBrad Bradley 03-31-2010 12:52 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Random stuff:

- Tolstoy said, The best stories don't come from 'good vs bad' but from 'good vs good'.

- That's why Laszlo works so well as Rick's antagonist.

- Casablanca is a love story. Most stories are.

- "Main Character" is not meant to be a "standalone label". The audience experiences the story though the "eyes" of the MC. The Main Character is the MC and also another character type. The MC can also be the protagonist, antagonist, confidant character, etc.

(Interesting thread, BTW)

TheKeenGuy 03-31-2010 12:53 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
I think there's an interesting discussion to be had about split protagonists, but I have no idea why CASABLANCA came into it, because by no measure is Laszlo a protagonist.

CITIZEN KANE would be a much more interesting film to analyze in regards to this. You have the reporter and his conflict about discovering the nature of Kane's last words, and then you have Kane himself. The reporter acts as a surrogate protagonist for the sake of moving the plot forward.

A narrator character like Red in THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION fills a similar role. It's not their conflict. It's not even fully from their perspective, but occasionally they take on that burden, and they usually have their own conflict to overcome as a subplot that further informs the theme of the film.

I don't know if there's an official term for these kinds of characters. Shame on me for not reading the thread closely if someone knows and provided that answer. I've referred to them as "access" characters in the past.

Mac H. 03-31-2010 01:05 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by NikeeGoddess (Post 632074)
all of these (and i'm sure there are many others) where there's a main character in a story told by the protagonist through voice over.

I can see why they are all stories told by a point of view character narrating.

But where is the argument that the POV character/narrator is the 'main' character?

Surely 'main' character isn't necessarily the one narrating. If you someone what the movie 'The Castle' is about, they aren't going to say it's about a kid who doesn't do much - but has a father involved in a court case to save the house.

You'll say the film is about a guy going to court to save his house. The fact it's narrated/POV is from a kid doesn't make the kid the main character.

They would say the main character is the guy the story is about.

The narrator doesn't need to be the main character.

Mac

Steven Jenkins 03-31-2010 05:19 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Using Dramatica's theory of character traits -
regarding the war
Lazlo - persues resistance efforts,
Rick - avoids by being neutral
Strasse - hinders Lazlo's efforts to escape and continue carrying the flag of resistance against fascism

regarding the letter of transit
Lazlo - persues
Rick - prevents
Ilsa - reasons (until she uses a gun make him reconsider)
Strasse - helps (by closing Rick's place, making it possible for Ilsa to see Rick while Lazlo's at a meeting).

regarding emotions
Rick - persues a solution from Ilsa
Ilsa - prevents
Lazlo - hinders rick's desire to get Ilsa back
Strasse - helps (by shutting Ricks place, allowing Rick and Ilsa to kiss-and-make-up, then get Lazlo out of the country)

regarding lazlo's escape
Rick - persues the plan to fool everybody and get Lazlo and Ilsa on the plane.
Strasse - prevents (by calling the control-tower).

the fact that Lazlo does most of the persuing makes him protagonistic, but what he's persuing isn't the main drive of the movie - which is Rick's issues with Ilsa. So Rick is the protag of the main storyline.


This is only a simple breakdown, but its enough to show the complex interweaving storylines, and what (changing) roles the various characters play in each. It's a film with two storylines and two protags. Rick's protag is the focus of the movie, it's his POV, he's the MC, so Rick is the Hero of the movie.

NikeeGoddess 03-31-2010 05:54 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mac H. (Post 632093)
I can see why they are all stories told by a point of view character narrating.

But where is the argument that the POV character/narrator is the 'main' character?

Surely 'main' character isn't necessarily the one narrating. If you someone what the movie 'The Castle' is about, they aren't going to say it's about a kid who doesn't do much - but has a father involved in a court case to save the house.

You'll say the film is about a guy going to court to save his house. The fact it's narrated/POV is from a kid doesn't make the kid the main character.

They would say the main character is the guy the story is about.

The narrator doesn't need to be the main character.

Mac

no, i said the storyteller is the protagonist, not the main character. in my examples the protagonist is telling a story about how the main character changed him or her life forever.*
this doesn't apply to every single movie. most times the main character and the protagonist are the same person. i was just showing that sometimes they're not.

*in shawshank - redd talks about how he spent so many years inside that he didn't think he could survive in the real world. remember when the first old guy got released and hung himself? redd thought he was on that same path but andy's desire to get out of that prison even after 17 years inspired him to survive out there. that's why redd is the protagonist and andy is the main character.

*mockingbird was a coming of age story. the story of the main character (atticus) was told by the protagonist (scout) and she was telling us how her greatness of her father changed her life forever.

JeffLowell 03-31-2010 06:32 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPlkn...=youtube_gdata

NikeeGoddess 03-31-2010 07:01 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
damn it, janet... i mean, jeff. we didn't know you could sing.

bioprofessor 03-31-2010 08:03 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by NikeeGoddess (Post 632105)
no, i said the storyteller is the protagonist, not the main character. in my examples the protagonist is telling a story about how the main character changed him or her life forever.*
this doesn't apply to every single movie. most times the main character and the protagonist are the same person. i was just showing that sometimes they're not.

*in shawshank - redd talks about how he spent so many years inside that he didn't think he could survive in the real world. remember when the first old guy got released and hung himself? redd thought he was on that same path but andy's desire to get out of that prison even after 17 years inspired him to survive out there. that's why redd is the protagonist and andy is the main character.

*mockingbird was a coming of age story. the story of the main character (atticus) was told by the protagonist (scout) and she was telling us how her greatness of her father changed her life forever.

Same goes for Stand by Me, where the narrator, Richard Dryefuss, is the reflective adult of one of the geeky, trio of misfits (can't remember the character's name).

asjah8 03-31-2010 08:32 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
sorry folks, i just don't see the connection. ex., shawshank: red's character switches back and forth from first-person narrative to third-person limited; ie, "when i met andy" -- "andy knew he had to do it, but the warden would retaliate" (or similar words). it doesn't make red the protagonist, he's just relaying the events as he knew them to be.

third-person limited is a fundamentally flawed pov unless the writer establishes ethos for the narrator; ie red's backstory information). in this case, i believe darabont cleverly wrapped ethos with pathos in order to draw the most identification from the audience. the magic of the literary tricks are hidden but they are there behind the scenes.

billmarq 03-31-2010 09:10 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
May I be permitted to state the obvious? Is it not possible to over-analyze a movie, especially when we attempt to make the story fit into a formula? Some of the best films are those that don't fit a standard outline, like Psycho, in which the main character changes mid-story.

In a lesser movie, perhaps, should we be forced to decide whether Starsky or Hutch is the protaganist just so we can fill in a blank?

Standard outlines and formulae are great devices for a writer to use when constructing a story, but sometimes we need to deviate a little, and when we do the story may become more interesting or even meaningful.

In the above mentioned movie, I have to believe that Rick is the protag. That doesn't mean that Laszlo didn't help move the story along by his actions.

Now let's talk about Magnolia. :eek:

JimHull 03-31-2010 10:28 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
No, I would never do that...:)

My apologies to those who think I've tarnished the image of DoneDealPro. I didn't come in here to piss people off or offer an invitation to the Flat Earth society. The OP expressed concern that his story had a fatal flaw and pointed to one of my articles as a point of reference. He was then told that the problem was that his Main Character was not the Protagonist which by now you should know, I don't think is always that necessary.

For those who think I'm nuts for proposing that Lazlo is the Protagonist I know where you are coming from, and I would have thought the same ten, maybe fifteen years ago. I by no means think he is the Main Character! The film is obviously about Rick, it his story, and it is his emotional journey we are on.

But I do believe there is value in understanding the difference between the character who drives the efforts towards the goal and the character through whose eyes we witness the film.

I'm sure everyone would agree that the ending of "Casablanca" is a triumphant ending. The good guys win and the Main Character, though perhaps a bit remorseful at losing the girl, is in a better place. We see the end results of his efforts as being a good thing. He had a bad attitude in the beginning, and he overcame it. On the other side, the good guys win and the bad guys lose. This is the definition of a triumphant ending.

If Rick was the Protagonist, and by that I mean the character who drives the efforts towards the goal, then I think for the film to have the same sort of ending Rick would have ended up with Ilsa. Thankfully for us lovers of great stories that didn't happen!

There is a larger problem going on in the story of "Casablanca" that everyone is dealing with -- the resistance (good guys) vs. everyone's favorite bad guys the Nazis (bad guys). From this perspective, the bar owner, the french resistance fighter, the chief of police, the bartender, and so on - all these characters display the relative value between doing what is best for themselves (self-interest) vs. doing what is best for others (self-sacrifice). Note that I avoided using proper names -- this is essential when looking at a story from a purely objective view.

Internally, and more personally to the audience, we have that same struggle going on with Rick and Ilsa. This is a more subjective view into the problems presented in the story. I propose that it is the juxtaposition between the two different views that makes this film so great.

By combining both views it is offering us something that we cannot get in real life -- the chance to step outside of ourselves and look at what goes on from a purely objective view.

This is why stories are so wonderful and so important and why we keep going back to them over and over again - because they offer us something we don't get in real life: meaning.

instant_karma 03-31-2010 10:37 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by billmarq (Post 632114)
May I be permitted to state the obvious? Is it not possible to over-analyze a movie, especially when we attempt to make the story fit into a formula?

Absofrickenlutely.

I have serious doubts that any of the writers involved with Casablanca in either it's film or stage form were thinking in terms of Laszlo being the protagonist of the resistance movement story.

Ronaldinho 03-31-2010 11:47 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JimHull (Post 631995)
LOL, nice one dmizzo - The problems in "Casablanca" exist because there are two letters of transit that have gone missing. Letters of transit that Lazlo was going to use to get to America. Everyone wants those letters, but it is Lazlo who is driving the pursuit towards them (both because he is in Casablanca and because he wants them for his own self-interest). Strasser is actively trying to prevent that from happening (Antagonist). Once Lazlo gets those letters, the problems in the story are resolved and the film is over.

Here's the problem:

Laszlo's story involves much more than the letters of transit. He's not in Casablanca because of the Letters of Transit. He's not even initially in Rick's cafe because of the LoTs.

The story is about how the LoTs intersect with, and mix up, RICK's life, not Laszlo's. This is actually probably the least cinematically interesting bit of Laszlo's journey to freedom, if you think about it.

TwoBrad Bradley 03-31-2010 11:52 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Every major (perhaps even some minor) character in a movie is the protagonist of their own story.


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