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Old 03-31-2010, 11:56 AM   #121
Ronaldinho
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

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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.
Sure. Casablanca is just a really poor example of this dichotomy.

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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.
I disagree. Let's take a simpler example. Let's say that Luke fails to blow up the Death Star. He doesn't turn off his targeting computer, his torpedoes impact on the surface, and the D.S. blows up the moon with the rebel base on it.

Now, I think we can all agree that such an ending wouldn't be very satisfying, I'm not arguing that it's a better ending,or anything like that.

But it doesn't change who the protagonist or main character of the story is. Those elements are defined the the totality of the story - they aren't determined after-the-fact by the ending.

If Rick had gone through with the plan he told Ilsa, and gotten on the plane himself with her, handing Laszlo over to the Nazis, we all agree that wouldn't be a very satisfying ending, but it also wouldn't change the action of the first 98% of the movie. If you're relying on the ending to define your main character, then, it follows that you're suggesting that you can not identify the main character of a story if you missed the last five minutes of it.

That strikes me as absurd on its face.
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Old 03-31-2010, 12:38 PM   #122
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Exactly. The decision of the protagonist in the last three minutes doesn't define his role in the story for the last two hours.

Also, to assume Rick is the protagonist only if he gets the girl is to say that you can only have happy endings in films. So Woody Allen wasn't the protagonist of Annie Hall because he lost her, and Julia Roberts wasn't the protag in My Best Friend's Wedding for the same reason, not to mention every romantic tragedy (which Casablance falls under) where they don't end up together.

I get it that WWII is a big event, but it doesn't make it the main story of Casablanca. It's like saying that Titanic is really a story about the people who told the ship to go faster vs the people who said it wasn't safe because of the icebergs. Jack and Rose? Not driving the action of the movie.
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Old 03-31-2010, 01:02 PM   #123
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

"Titanic" I'll skip because I don't think it was particularly that great. As far as "Best Friend's Wedding" goes I would definitely say that Julia Roberts is both the Protagonist and Main Character. I would say her efforts to subvert such wedding end in failure, but she is in a much better place. I would categorize that film as more of a Personal Triumph - the efforts to pursue the story goal (the problem everyone is dealing with) end in failure, but the Main Character is in a much better place.

Personally I don't think the goal everyone is dealing with in Casablanca revolves around whether or not he gets Ilsa, so I wouldn't categorize him as the Protagonist. It was mentioned previously that this was what Rick was pursuing and that this was the main goal of the story, so I was trying to use that as an example.

I have a whole series of articles I wrote on Endings last year here: Meaningful Endings. Each one has a several video clips that help demonstrate my arguments. They should help explain that I don't think every story needs to have a happy ending (in fact, my favorites don't).

This goes back to what I believe is the incorrect assumption that the Protagonist is the character we care the most about, or empathize with the most. I believe that responsibility lies with the Main Character. When it all comes down to it this is an argument over definitions, and my argument is that the presently accepted definition of the Protagonist as being the character an audience empathizes most with is inaccurate.

Re: Ronaldinho, I agree that the relying on the ending to define your Main Character is absurd. I was using the ending of a story to help define who the Protagonist is. If you accept that idea that stories are about solving problems, then it follows that you would want to know whether or not those problems are solved and who was leading the charge towards him.
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Old 03-31-2010, 01:08 PM   #124
Laura Reyna
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

I didn't read all of the posts...

I'm one of those who doesn't make a distinction btwn the "Main Character" and "Protagonist" in my head. MC, protagonist, Hero-- they are all the same person in my head. The person with the goal that drives the story. But I've never written a story that had a seperate narrator or POV char.

I don't think most writers think about labeling these kinds of things when they're writing. All this comes out of academic, after the fact analysis. Maybe if I was writing a paper to impress a professor I would think about it more.

As a writer, I try not to over analyze too much, try to keep it as simple as possible. Writing movies is hard enough already without tying yourself in knots over this kind of stuff.
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Old 03-31-2010, 01:13 PM   #125
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

For stories where there might be a main (focal) character AND a protag, here's from Wiki:

In any narrative, the focal character is the character on whom the audience is meant to place the majority of their interest and attention. He or she is almost always also the protagonist of the story; however, in cases where the "focal character" and "protagonist" are separate, the focal character's emotions and ambitions are not meant to be empathized with by the audience to as high an extent as the protagonist (this is the main difference between the two character terms). The focal character is mostly created to simply be the "excitement" of the story, though not necessarily the main character about whom the audience is emotionally concerned. The focal character is, more than anyone else, "the person on whom the spotlight focuses; the center of attention; the man whose reactions dominate the screen."[1]

So following that differentiation, in T2 Arnold would be the focal character but the audience's emotional investment lies with the protag(s), i.e. the kid and Sarah Connor. Yes, no?
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Old 03-31-2010, 01:13 PM   #126
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TANGENT ALERT!
i feel bad for the wives and girlfriends of some of you geeks that love hearing yourself talk so much that you over-fricken-analyze to death. do you come here b/c they won't listen to you anymore? geeez! that's what you should be writing about. write what you know!

geeks who over-fricken-analyze to death turn into nerds... which is not a good thing.

ok - as you were
or NOT
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Old 03-31-2010, 01:53 PM   #127
Biohazard
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

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shawshank redemption
road to perdition
million dollar baby
to kill a mockingbird
training day
Not familiar enough with some of those films to give an accurate reply, but I will say this...

Shawshank Redemption - Andy's story
Million Dollar Baby - Maggie's story
Training Day - Jake's story

The character that begins the story with a specific flaw or need and ends up falling into what becomes the principal conflict that creates a specific goal for the character which drives and gives purpose to every event of the story and forces the character to change or grow to overcome his/her flaw in the end...that character is the protagonist, because it's their story.

I find it strange that something as elementary as determining the hero of a story confuses anyone on these boards.

If you can't immediately pick out the hero and villain of TRAINING DAY, then I don't even know what to say. I'm definitely not qualified to handle a matter that severe.

The protagonist is the main character - it's their story.
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Old 03-31-2010, 02:01 PM   #128
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

I can't tell you how pissed off I get when the Academy does something like nominate Ethan Hawke in TRAINING DAY for Best Supporting Actor.
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Old 03-31-2010, 02:05 PM   #129
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

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TANGENT ALERT!
i feel bad for the wives and girlfriends of some of you geeks that love hearing yourself talk so much that you over-fricken-analyze to death. do you come here b/c they won't listen to you anymore? geeez! that's what you should be writing about. write what you know!

geeks who over-fricken-analyze to death turn into nerds... which is not a good thing.

ok - as you were
or NOT
yeah - but HOW?

Am I the main character or the protagonist? And who's the cat playing - (probably my mentor).

There's nothing wrong with nerdiness - I'm pretty glad overall that there's a few nerdy architect's out there who know the difference between a firedoor and catflap.
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Old 03-31-2010, 02:07 PM   #130
JeffLowell
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

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Originally Posted by NikeeGoddess View Post
TANGENT ALERT!
i feel bad for the wives and girlfriends of some of you geeks that love hearing yourself talk so much that you over-fricken-analyze to death. do you come here b/c they won't listen to you anymore? geeez! that's what you should be writing about. write what you know!

geeks who over-fricken-analyze to death turn into nerds... which is not a good thing.

ok - as you were
or NOT
Excellent 2448th post.
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