Theme and Opposing conflict

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  • #61
    Re: Theme and Opposing conflict

    The theme I'm hearing right now is the theme music at the end of the great TV show The Incredible Hulk as I walk slowly down the street with my spec in my hand trying to sell it to any car that passes knowing I never will.


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33izVlIOgnQ

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    • #62
      Re: Theme and Opposing conflict

      I was terrible with themes in school. I never got it.

      Even as an adult, I found oh the theme is “leadership” or whatever to be useless and unhelpful. And for screenwriting, it largely is, I think we’d agree. That’s a thing it can be about.

      What helped me most was hearing Mazin talk about central dramatic argument. Because, 1) I like arguing and 2) that was much more purposeful.

      So I start with a statement - and mine are, unfortunately, never as conflict inherent as Jeff states above.

      So a few of mine have been:

      “The fruits of a free society are only truly realized in service to others”

      “Before you can fix others, you have to fix yourself”

      “We are a nation of laws and not of men”

      “True justice can never be fully attained, but that is ok”

      “The pursuit of an idealized American Dream is personally destructive.”


      So it is that idea that my protagonist will be pushing up against the entire movie until the lightbulb comes on and they realize the truth in those statements, their subconscious need is realized and they reach their goal but maybe not in the way they expected and use their new found knowledge to accomplish it. The end.

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      • #63
        Re: Theme and Opposing conflict

        Umm, Philip K. Dick... you think he thinks along those lines? I would be highly surprised. All his themes have to do with Apocalypse or Authoritarian power and forcing the MC to make a moral choice of humanity vs duty to the tyrannic overlord.

        You have to understand the complex themes of sci-fi and what arguments they make, as what is a commonplace discussion amongst these people is science and the implications of it on humanity. Anyways, preface included, I would assume the argument has to do with eugenics... Is a man preordained to commit crimes if they are mentally damaged from genetics or of a poor social-economic class?

        The original short story is different from the feature, so here on out I just discuss the movie.

        Our Main-Character throughout the story is a drug addict and damaged mentally from a horrific accident involving his child and on the verge of suicide. This again points to him being unstable, someone who is committing crimes and willing to kill if necessary, the people society deems dangerous to others.

        The climax of the movie revolves around the MC confronting the Antag about who really is a murderer, who the really bad people in society are... Are the politicians who send us to kill people in war the really doing it to prevent these bad people from doing bad things or are they doing it to control us and limit our freedoms?

        So going back to eugenics; who is responsible for the crime, the criminals, or the authoritarian power than pushes us to commit crimes?
        Ricky Slade: Listen to me, I intentionally make this gun look that way because I am smart.

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        • #64
          Re: Theme and Opposing conflict

          Originally posted by Crayon View Post
          No, I don't think that O'Bannon (and Shusett) were 'discussing' our mortal fears of a hostile alien force. (Who even has "mortal fears of a hostile alien force" anyway?) That fear is introduced just by having a killer alien as an antagonist; but it's not 'discussed' - at least no more so than a fear of chainsaws is 'discussed' in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre [1974].
          A member of their crew is infected, protag doesn't want the infected people aboard, but the android let them on. The monster bursts from the chest and... chaos ensues.

          The Antagonist is the Alien in the movie Alien... Texas Chainsaw Massacre the Antag is Leatherface.

          Everything Ripley does in the movie indicates that she is afraid of the Alien infecting the ship. I suspect you've never seen the movie.
          Ricky Slade: Listen to me, I intentionally make this gun look that way because I am smart.

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          • #65
            Re: Theme and Opposing conflict

            Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
            But since this is a screenwriting forum, I think the more important point is how to use theme when you're writing.

            People may miss or misinterpret the theme you intended, but it's definitely a tool that can make your script more cohesive and interesting. A set piece that grows out of your theme is probably going to help define your characters more than one that's just random jokes/explosions.

            No one has to use theme when they're writing a script, obviously, but if I were trying to break in, I'd at least explore it to see if it helps. I find that coming up with an interesting thematic question at the same time I'm coming up with my logline is time well spent.

            Did everyone reading the script understand the theme? Probably not, because I didn't have my characters ever explicitly say it. But what does that matter if it helped me make the script better?

            Again, I have friends who don't approach writing that way and do just fine. But I find it such a useful tool that I don't understand rejecting it out of hand - if you're willing to try The Super Secret Sequence Method, why not try seeing if consciously starting with an interesting thematic question helps?
            That and the example that came with it is extremely helpful, especially coming from Jeff, a pro writer. NOTE: Post 51 is the full post.
            Last edited by jonpiper; 09-07-2020, 10:40 AM.

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            • #66
              Re: Theme and Opposing conflict

              Originally posted by Julysses View Post
              I am curious about everyone's thoughts on how the theme should be introduced and when you should choose to focus on the antagonist or oppositional conflict with the protagonist, instead of thematic goals.

              It's all the same thing, there is no instead of. Characters represent thematic positions so to focus on the antagonist or oppositional conflict with the protagonist is thematic.
              Story Structure 1
              Story Structure 2
              Story Structure 3

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