Originally Posted by JimHull
I would be willing to use the term "Viewpoint Character" if it accurately communicated what is going on inside of stories. I don't think it does.
Every great story has a Main Character through which we the audience experience a story. They are more than simply a Narrator or Viewpoint Character as they have deep personal issues that are tied thematically to the problems everyone in the story deals with.
Along comes another character, the Impact Character, who sees the world differently than them. They argue back and forth throughout the course of a story over the best way to solve the problems affecting everyone -- each thinking their way is the best (more or less). This argument represents the emotional center of the story.
i sincerely don’t want to confuse this thread anymore. it sounds like you really want to make clarity of this so i’ll humbly submit again… ethos.
films are a communication medium. and, films are a way for a writer to communicate something to an audience; ie, what the writer wants to say about the human condition. that is persuasive communication. and, it is exactly what the study of rhetoric is all about.
so, a writer wants to write a story about a man who is convicted of murdering his wife who is more noble than the system that incarcerates him. a rhetorician would look at this and say: okay mr. writer, how do you want to make this argument?
your audience won’t (for the most part) sympathize or identify with a man in prison.
your audience won’t sympathize or identify with a man who murders his wife.
how can you bring this to an audience’ level so they can sympathize and identify?
how can you make this man appear not only be sympathetic, but ultimately noble?
the first, most obvious answer is to tell the story through another prisoner’s perspective; bring the audience to andy's level so they can potentially empathize. and, of course this other prisoner must have seen far worse, for far longer, and must have learned to absorb, analyze and survive.
but, that’s still not enough. one additional prisoner doesn’t make a persuasive perspective for an argument. the result is we’ll have two prisoners that the audience can’t relate with instead of one. there must be more.
so, fragment the characterization a bit and give a particular dimension to each of the resulting characterizations -- add a prisoner who has killed himself because he was misunderstood; then add another prisoner who… and another prisoner who... and yet another prisoner who… etc.
then, add a crummy warden with an obviously bad attitude who is the perfect unlikeable opposite antagonist.
red, and the guy who hung himself, and the other prisoners (i recall a prisoner who fed birds…?) are all acting as different dimensions to the same persuasive argument characterization: that andy can be a noble prisoner who is misunderstood. red is the primary access character, however the others provide different supporting dimensions to the same concept.
that is the writer’s tool for establishing ethos.
aristotle wrote much more than the oft-lauded poetics; he was an incredibly powerful rhetorician that designed the moral pistis for a persuasive argument.
erm... i don't pretend to be a repped or optioned screenwriter but now we're sorta getting into my field of knowledge.