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Old 03-28-2010, 01:58 PM   #31
dmizzo
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

I like to make them all the same character. Little trick I learned from Mr. Charlie Kaufman.

Seriously, I've heard this protagonist and main character being different people thing before, and I've never understood it. The classic example is Atticus as the protagonist and Scout as the main character. But I don't see how looking at it like that helps write the thing.

Just because we see the story from Scout's perspective doesn't mean the drama isn't driven by Atticus and his actions. Feels like arbitrary labeling, but maybe there's another way to look at it.

However, there is no world in which Gandalf = antagonist makes even a lick of sense. That's gibberish.
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Old 03-28-2010, 02:23 PM   #32
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

well, according to the theory the protag is the one who is trying to achieve the main goal in the plot, and the Antag is the one trying to stop him.

The theory uses the example of a battle. two sides meeting on a battlefield. The protag is the general trying to occupy the territory, and the antag is the general trying to stop him. The main character is a simple soldier in the middle of the battle, and it's his eyes we use to experience the heat the battle.

so using this example, Sauron is the one trying to dominate middle earth, Gandalf is the one manauvering and instigating the forces against him, and Frodo is the poor soldier in the middle of the battlefield.

At least that's how I understand the theory to be working.

It just never occured to me that not everybody would buy into this theory

They also say that a film like Die-Hard is something different altogether. The main character is also the protagonist here, as the general is also the soldier in the field.

or is he the 'Antagonist' - as he's trying to 'stop' the bad-guys...?

Last edited by Steven Jenkins : 03-28-2010 at 02:35 PM.
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Old 03-28-2010, 02:39 PM   #33
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

The Sauron-Frodo thing makes an important point: you can tell stories from multiple points of view. You could make Sauron the hero, tell the story from his side. (Somebody did this online somewhere - he's trying to overturn a racist hegemony).

But one needs to be careful with this. In a good story, every character has strong motivations, they want something - that means anyone could be the protagonist. I mean, imagine Boromir as the tragic hero of LOTR: he's sent on a quest to find a weapon he needs to save his people, he doesn't get it, and millions die in a war as a consequence.

As Bill has pointed out, often in action movies the hero is reactive: in Die Hard, no bad guys = no movie. No John McClane ... well, you still kinda have a movie there, albiet a very different one.

Nevertheless, the hero is driving the particular action of the film. Die Hard with Holly as the hero is a very very different film, even though the bad guys are the same and have the same plan.

In LOTR, Frodo's decision to take the Ring to Mordor drives the particular action of the film. In the absence of Sauron's plan for world domination, that quest doesn't exist, but that doesn't mean Frodo isn't the protagonist.

There is a larger story of which Gandalf is the protagonist - his war against Sauron, as part of the council. The events of the books end up being the third act of that story - the pieces Gandalf has set in motion in his life up to that point (digging through ancient books, developing relationships among the various races so they would be ready when the time came, seeking out the one ring) all come to fruition. But that is a story Tolkein didn't tell, we only get echoes of it (Gandalf talks of his encounter with the Necromancer, etc).

Similarly, you'd go back even farther if you were going to tell the story where Sauron is the hero, back before the creation of the rings of power, which is probably the first-act break in his story. (Not having read the Simarillion in its entirety, I don't know all the details of Sauron's history, so that's a bit of a guess). In that story, the events of the books are, again, the third act: he discovers that his ring has been found, and declares himself openly in a final bid to destroy the hegemony of the Elves.

But that should of storytelling jiu-jitsu shouldn't obscure the fact that the protagonist is the hero of the story by definition, the one who drives the action.

Sometimes you have a story where the point-of-view character isn't the protagonist (eg, "Shane") - where we see the hero through the eyes of someone else. That might be the sort of thing the original poster is talking about here, I'm not sure.
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Old 03-28-2010, 02:58 PM   #34
JeffLowell
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

Scout is the narrator, not the main character. It's like saying that Nick is the main character of Gatsby. (Please, don't someone say that.)

And yes, you can tell LOTR with anyone being the protagonist. (See "Rosencrantz and Guildernstern Are Dead.") That doesn't change the fact that Frodo is the protagonist and main character of the movie as it exists now.

Steven, art is subjective, but the meaning of the word "protagonist" isn't. And it's not just semantics - your main character is your protagonist and his goal defines the plot of the movie. I'm not sure who's teaching you the theory that makes Sauron the protagonist of LOTR, or the Emperor the protagonist of Star Wars, but you should never talk to that person again, because they are giving you horrifically bad information.
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Old 03-28-2010, 04:21 PM   #35
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

Right

I'll go back and re-assess what's what. I need to get these things down-pat.

And, thanks for all the input everyone
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Old 03-28-2010, 05:27 PM   #36
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

Which is the reporter, Thompson, in Citizen Kane? He seems to be the character with the goal while the story is more about someone else.
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Old 03-28-2010, 07:15 PM   #37
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

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Originally Posted by asjah8 View Post
now, what's even messier is that frodo doesn't really evolve at all; he is a static character. the story evolves via his involvement in everyone else's lives; the dynamic supporting characters. actually, frodo has to be a strong static character in order to carry the spine while the writer plays with povs of other threads. otherwise, the whole thing would fall apart.
Frodo does actually evolve. He comes under the ring's influence and starts to turn darker, so that's one type of evolution triggered by something external. But he also arcs simply because of everything he goes through during the story. When he gets back to the Shire at the end, he realizes he doesn't really belong there anymore. Of course, he has to take care of that little Saruman problem - and he can. He's not the hobbit he was when he left.

I can't remember how it played out in the movies, though. Maybe he was more static in them.
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Old 03-28-2010, 07:19 PM   #38
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

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Originally Posted by Steven Jenkins View Post
I guess it's just a mix-up of terms, probably from my having recently read the theory behind the "Dramatica" program, which they agree is a little different to established thinking.

Steven, study this article concerning when the main character is not the protagonist, http://storyfanatic.com/articles/sto...e-protagonist/

It may help you continue to discuss this issue.
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Old 03-28-2010, 07:59 PM   #39
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

catalyst
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Old 03-28-2010, 10:14 PM   #40
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

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Originally Posted by Ravenlocks View Post
Frodo does actually evolve. He comes under the ring's influence and starts to turn darker, so that's one type of evolution triggered by something external. But he also arcs simply because of everything he goes through during the story. When he gets back to the Shire at the end, he realizes he doesn't really belong there anymore. Of course, he has to take care of that little Saruman problem - and he can. He's not the hobbit he was when he left.

I can't remember how it played out in the movies, though. Maybe he was more static in them.
i never thought about it that way; good point raven. i tend to think of an arc as more internal and character-altering. frodo isn't really conflicted about what he has to do, although he's afraid; and he recognizes evil for what it is. all through the story he tells others the darkness is his cross to bear. the only point i really hesitated, was golum. frodo didn't recognize golum's deeper evil because sympathy blinded him.

well, this blows my fabulous theory all to hell. in a good way though, so i appreciate the insight.
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