Moral Dilemmas

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  • Moral Dilemmas

    I'd like to learn good and unique examples of moral dilemmas if you have any idea about them. I think they can be good start-ups to build plot or characters.

  • #2
    The word dilemma is a huge buzz word in screenwriting. I wanna say I've seen the word in every book on the craft I read. A dilemma is any situation where there are more than one solution to a problem but none are all that desirable.

    A moral dillemma is a choice between two moral values. So like in the Godfather, how the family was trying to keep Mike out of the family business and he even tells Kay at the wedding - That's my family Kay, not me. Then after Solazzo tries to kill his father and Michael shows up at the hospital and the guards have been sent home and his father is unprotected, he has to take action to protect his father and he goes to his father's bedside and says "I'm with you now pop." There's a moral dilemma where the character chose the immoral choice and we see how the story plays out from there.

    All the time in film you see situations like a friend who knows his bf's spouse is cheating. What does he do? Tell him and maybe break up a family or stay quiet and let his friend get run around on. Another is maybe an abused wife/mother character who can leave and get away from the abuse but would have to leave behind two young kids with this maniac or she can stay and shelter the kids but take abuse.

    Dilemmas are a good way to keep the reader going further into the acript. If you can set-up a dilemma in act 1, then I bet your reader will get to Act 2. I attempted to write one into the last script I wrote. My MC lives in a small town and the residents are church going, overly nice do gooders. After the MC reveals a scandal buried by the church the town changes and it becomes a not so nice place to live. At the end, the town has just begun to mend and get back to normal but my MC has uncovered a secret that no one knew about the Cardinal who was responsible for the healing (this Cardinal was killed by the murderer at the end). Now if the MC exposes this secret then the town may fall back into darkness, but if he says nothing then this evil man who had everyone fooled will go down as a martyr and a saint.

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    • #3
      Just read a pertinent example last night: Suncoast, a script from the 2020 Black List.

      It's about a teenage girl whose burgeoning social life clashes with her responsibilities to her dying, vegetative brother.

      Interesting read because the plot lacks urgency and drive, but the script still works because the writing is solid and the dilemma builds to an effective climax. You might want to check it out.

      There was a post on here about theme recently, and dilemma seems like a related idea. To me, it's when a character has to make a difficult choice between multiple paths. The choice they make and the consequences of that choice can be used to articulate a thematic statement.

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      • #4
        This place is weird.

        Examples of moral dilemmas? There are a kazillion of them. It's called life.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by muckraker View Post
          This place is weird.

          Examples of moral dilemmas? There are a kazillion of them. It's called life.
          Agree, but keep in mind that these forums don't always have to be about screenwriting methods or economics (though I get that the OP's post may be somewhat misplaced in a forum entitled "Intermediate and Advanced Screenwriting.") Sometimes it's ok to just ask, "Hey, whatcha think of this weather?", and see where the convo takes you.

          Adding to the OP's post, if you're seeking generic examples of moral dilemmas, then to me, that's a red flag that you're not thinking or writing close enough to the "core." The ability to deceive starts at about 4 yrs. Show me someone not much older than that who claims they haven't experienced a moral dilemma, i.e. something that makes them wish they could turn back the clock, and I'll show you a liar and/or a sociopath.

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          • #6
            Can someone give me examples of action films that are exciting?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by muckraker View Post
              Can someone give me examples of action films that are exciting?
              Ha! You're certainly living up to your "handle."

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