about-to-be-executed-scene -- cliché?

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  • about-to-be-executed-scene -- cliché?

    Uhm... I have this scene in which a group of samurai catch the protagonist. The protagonist used to be a samurai himself, serving the same master as they. However, these samurai have their orders (= kill the protagonist) and are about to obey them. Even though the protagonist is unarmed and cornered, I want him to avoid the execution.

    This is how I was planning to go about it:
    The protagonist asks to die like a soldier (= commiting seppuku). Knowing that the he has served their master dutifully for many years, the samurai agree. They hand him a short sword (after all, they have him outnumbered and encircled -- with their swords ready to strike). Of course, the protagonist uses his newly acquired weapon to slay them all and escape certain death (yehaw!).

    I like the scene and can use it to bring forth some important exposition. Also, the seppuku ritual plays well with my Japanese inspired setting and all that. However, I am concerned that it will be considered a cliché or worse: a rip off of Gladiator which has a similar scene (only here, the hero acquires the sword by force, and there is no seppuku ritual involved)

    What are your thoughts?

    I have really been pounding this one, trying to come up with a more original approach (overall, my story is fairly original), but it just fits so well into my plot... damn it. Have you been in similar situations? What did you do?
    Last edited by fubar; 09-23-2005, 06:47 AM.

  • #2
    Re: about-to-be-executed-scene -- cliché?

    mmmh, don't know much about Samurai's but you seem to have switched sympathies here. The attackers are honoroble, worthy opponents and your protag seems a bit of a ****.

    In order for him to overpower his attackers and still be audience empathetic I think you may need to build the scene differently.
    http://wasitsomethingiwrote.blogspot.com/

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    • #3
      Re: about-to-be-executed-scene -- cliché?

      Originally posted by fubar
      Uhm... I have this scene in which a group of samurai catch the protagonist. The protagonist used to be a samurai himself, serving the same master as they. However, these samurai have their orders (= kill the protagonist) and are about to obey them. Even though the protagonist is unarmed and cornered, I want him to avoid the execution.

      This is how I was planning to go about it:
      The protagonist asks to die like a soldier (= commiting seppuku). Knowing that the he has served their master dutifully for many years, the samurai agree. They hand him a short sword (after all, they have him outnumbered and encircled -- with their swords ready to strike). Of course, the protagonist uses his newly acquired weapon to slay them all and escape certain death (yehaw!).

      I like the scene and can use it to bring forth some important exposition. Also, the sepukku ritual plays well with my Japanese inspired setting and all that. However, I am concerned that it will be considered a cliché or worse: a rip off of Gladiator which has a similar scene (only here, the hero acquires the sword by force, and there is no seppuku ritual involved)

      What are your thoughts?

      I have really been pounding this one, trying to come up with a more original approach (overall, my story is fairly original), but it just fits so well into my plot... damn it. Have you been in similar situations? What did you do?
      My onlly thoughts are...is it in his character to completely disregard the bushido? The code of the samurai? Because this would be considered a despicable act of cowardice in their culture wouldn't it?

      And secondly, he better be damn believable in that action sequence if he's going to take out several of his own kind with a tiny little dagger while they are standing over him with their swords drawn. Again, I question if it's in his character. What gives him such a significant edge in skill over these guys that he can do with a knife what they fail miserably to do with three or four samurai swords?

      Just a few thoughts.
      Good luck.
      s

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      • #4
        Re: about-to-be-executed-scene -- cliché?

        "mmmh, don't know much about Samurai's but you seem to have switched sympathies here. The attackers are honoroble, worthy opponents and your protag seems a bit of a ****."

        He is only defending himself -- killing those who are about to kill him. His execution is based on false assumptions. He is innocent... and the audience knows this. As I see it, it's kill or be killed. Of course I am open to other suggestions... but is this to close to Gladiator?

        "My onlly thoughts are...is it in his character to completely disregard the bushido? The code of the samurai? Because this would be considered a despicable act of cowardice in their culture wouldn't it?"

        His execution is based on cowardice. His re-action to this act of cowardice is hardly cowardice -- it is merely an attempt to save his own life. Besides, the protagonist is no longer a samurai so he has left the bushido philosophy (although pretending otherwise).

        "And secondly, he better be damn believable in that action sequence if he's going to take out several of his own kind with a tiny little dagger while they are standing over him with their swords drawn. Again, I question if it's in his character. What gives him such a significant edge in skill over these guys that he can do with a knife what they fail miserably to do with three or four samurai swords?"

        Well, Maximus, although bound on his hands, was able to grab a sword (by the blade) from one of the assassins and then kill them all (I think there were like four of them, although only two with their swords above his head). As a former samurai, you'd expect my protagonist to have at least a pretty good understanding of 'the way of the sword'... so I'm not concerned whether the scene will be plausible... I'm concerned with whether it will be perceived as cliché/ripoff
        Last edited by fubar; 09-22-2005, 01:11 PM.

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        • #5
          Re: about-to-be-executed-scene -- cliché?

          Fubar, you don't have to worry about Gladiator, you have to worry about character. This guy has taken an oath. Right or wrong he will abide by the samurai code. That is what you have to think about.
          http://wasitsomethingiwrote.blogspot.com/

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          • #6
            Re: about-to-be-executed-scene -- cliché?

            I just edited my post..

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            • #7
              Re: about-to-be-executed-scene -- cliché?

              I just agreed with my post.
              http://wasitsomethingiwrote.blogspot.com/

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: about-to-be-executed-scene -- cliché?

                Major point of difference...Maximus was a general being taken away by a bunch of henchmen.

                We believed that his skill would be superior because it was already accepted in the opening scene that he got to that point for that very reason.

                All I'm saying is that if he's a former Samurai, what gives him the superior edge against several current samurai? If you don't establish that he's the friggin' chosen one, then the scene will be no where even near as believable as Maximus taking down a few losers one by one.

                Good luck with it. I'm sure you know your character better than we do.

                Santino

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                • #9
                  Re: about-to-be-executed-scene -- cliché?

                  Saving your own life at all costs is not really honorable, especially if you do so with a hallowed ritual blade (unless I'm wrong about the seppuku knife being consecrated for that purpose, which I could be since I did zero research). But it really does seem dishonorable to escape a suicide that has been ordered by your lord, even if he ordered it wrongfully. Aren't you supposed to obey him just or unjust?
                  "Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.-
                  ― Ray Bradbury

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                  • #10
                    Re: about-to-be-executed-scene -- cliché?

                    "Saving your own life at all costs is not really honorable"

                    I never said it was honorable. But it is understandable. People in the audience would have done the same.

                    In regards to the improbability of my protagonist taking out x number samurai. I can always cut down the number of enemy samurai to make it seem more plausible. Also, I don't see why I cannot show my character to be adept with a sword in this scene without having established it in an earlier scene? Gladiator established Maximus' prowess in a battle scene; I establish my protagonist's prowess in an execution scene... really, what is the difference -- other than the obvious backdrop?

                    It's like this (simply put):
                    - Protagonist serves master
                    - Master turns out to be a corrupt bastard
                    - Protagonist abandons his master
                    - Master dispatches a group of assassins to kill the protagonist
                    - Protagonist kills the assassins

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                    • #11
                      Re: about-to-be-executed-scene -- cliché?

                      Originally posted by fubar
                      "Saving your own life at all costs is not really honorable"

                      I never said it was honorable. But it is understandable. People in the audience would have done the same.
                      People in the audience are in the audience because they want to see people doing things they wouldn't do.

                      Okay that was glib, but it's late for me and Im very....very....drunk. Hopefully you get the picture. Good luck with it though.
                      http://wasitsomethingiwrote.blogspot.com/

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                      • #12
                        Re: about-to-be-executed-scene -- cliché?

                        "People in the audience are in the audience because they want to see people doing things they wouldn't do."

                        Eh? So because the audience would rightfully fight for their own lives, my protagonist is just supposed to let his corrupt enemies stab him to death? wtf...

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                        • #13
                          Re: about-to-be-executed-scene -- cliché?

                          I think you are going to have to study bushido, the code of the samurai. I can tell you right now from the little I know that I'm already a) against your character because he's acting dishonorably and b) unwilling to see the rest of you movie because there can be no good outcome.

                          There's one important detail of seppuku you've forgotten about - and that's the fellow with the sword resting on the about-to-die individual's neck. If the man committing seppuku loses his nerve, it is the swordsman's duty to cut the man's head off - to save his honour. And honour is everything. Your protagonist may not be serving the same master any more, but he has been brought up on the code of the samurai and going against that goes against his honour, and yes, he would rather die than do that, no matter if the execution is unjust.

                          You're going to have to rework the scene so that your protagonist never agrees to seppuku, because once he does, he has to go through with it, or lose his honour. And the audience is not going to be sympathetic with someone who disgraces his honour - and from this particular loss of honour, I don't believe there is any way to get it back - until he fulfils the "contract".

                          Research, research, research.

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                          • #14
                            Re: about-to-be-executed-scene -- cliché?

                            I once posted some sample pages in script pages section, and it's pretty obvious from those that my story takes place in a futuristic setting. These so-called samurai are neo-samurai working for a corrupt organization, so I can pretty much define them as I want. However, even if this really did take place in medieval Japan, I don't see the implausibility.

                            Imagine this scenario:
                            - As a samurai, you learn that your master has murdered your innocent familiy (wife and children)
                            - Naturally you refuse to continue to serve this man
                            - When your former master then dispatches a band of samurai to kill you, would you just let them kill you? Because that's honourable? Wouldn't it be more honourable to avenge your murdered family?

                            Oh, and I have done plenty of studies on samurai culture...

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                            • #15
                              Re: about-to-be-executed-scene -- cliché?

                              Fubar this is the danger of giving an out of context scene.

                              Okay, so the master is now a bastard, but have you made it clear enough that the audience can now believe that our protag will forsake his life's most highly regarded morals and kill those sent to get him?

                              It is not the mechanics of the scene that matter, it is the motivation. I bid you good day.
                              http://wasitsomethingiwrote.blogspot.com/

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