Thread: Fatal Flaw?
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Old 03-30-2010, 01:57 PM   #66
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 3,129
Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

Maybe I've been lucky, but I've never been in a meeting where everyone there didn't know that "raise the stakes" means "increase what's at risk," but if it helps writers think of that as consequences, score one for Dramatica.

What personal problems or issues are we privy too that no one else is? Issues he would take with him into another story. The judge calls him a cold and remorseless man, but do we get to experience what it is like to have that kind of attitude through Andy? I don't really know who Andy is. Red, on the other hand, I feel like I am Red.
I think you feel like you're inside Red's head because we hear his thoughts constantly. He's the narrator. It's no more complicated than that.

Again, I know exactly who Andy is. He's a guy who won't give up hope when all others have. The record scene I mentioned is the prime example of that - he told the guys the time he spent in solitary for it went by like nothing, because he could hear that music in his heart. He remembered there was beauty outside the walls.

And that's not the only example of getting inside Andy's head. Remember, near the end, in the last conversation Red and Andy have in prison? Andy admits that he is guilty of his wife's murder in a way - he was a bad husband and drove his wife away. That led to the chain of events that eventually got her killed.

And what about the idea that he disappears for much of the end of the film. If he was the Main Character yet we weren't exploring the story through him, we would feel detached and unaffected by the moments that play out on the screen. Doesn't Red fulfill that role better? Aren't we experiencing what it is like to go from a place of despair to a place of hope?
Last point first - Andy makes a journey from despair to hope. Remember when the movie opens, he's drunk and has a gun in his hand? Compare that to where he ends.

Yes, we have some scenes with Red at the end of the movie. But even then, he's making a journey because of Andy - he saved Andy in prison, and Andy is saving him back on the outside. I'd say it's all more of a coda, and it's building up to the last scene, which shows where Andy ended up.

And even in that Red heavy ending... there's a lot more Andy than people remember.

I may forget a scene or two, but here's the climax and end of the movie:

Andy in the warden's office, setting up the scam.

Andy polishes shoes, gets rope. Red is worried that his friend is killing himself.

Next morning - Andy is gone.

Norton finds wrong shoes. Grills Red, who knows nothing. Discovers hole.

Huge Andy scene as we see how he actually put the plan in motion for a long time.

Andy the night of the escape.

Andy at the bank, taking the money and mailing the evidence.

Warden in office discovers he's been outed. Opens safe and finds message from Andy. Kills himself because Andy's outsmarted him.

Red and friends receive postcard from Andy. Realizes he made it.

Red finally paroled.

Red doesn't fit in in outside world. Thinks about going back to prison. Remembers what Andy told him.

Red finds money and clue from Andy.

Red travels down, remembering Andy's words.

Red and Andy reunite.


Now, there's a good five or ten minute chunk where we don't see Andy, but Andy's still driving the action. Red's worrying about Andy or missing Andy or remembering Andy's advice or digging up Andy's clues or traveling to see him.

It's certainly an interesting narrative device, but I don't see how that makes Red the main character. Unless you ignore the other 90% of the movie, where Andy is clearly the main character. This Andy not on screen = Red main character theory ignores all the time that Red is not on screen and Andy is.

I can point to entire sequences in movies where the main character/protagonist isn't on screen and yet the audience is riveted - because we can care about multiple characters. Look at The Empire Strikes Back - do we lose interest when Luke's being trained by Yoda? Does the fact that we don't mean that Han Solo is really the main character? Or LOTR - the protagonist and main character is Frodo (I think we agree on this). In the last two movies, he's split off from everyone but Sam. Does that mean the 75% of the time that he's not on screen, the audience is detached and unaffected?
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