Literary Liaisons

A blog about writing and all things story…

What do Bridesheads, Boondocks & Aristotle have to do with one another?

I watched Brideshead Revisited and The Boondocks Saints this week for my weekly ‘film’ story study. By the way, I’m also reading Aristotle’s Poetics for Screenwriters, as well, and loving it. More on Aristotle when I finish the book.
First, onto Brideshead which was just an okay movie, but one told with great storytelling skill.
In the first one minute of the movie we know he’s a soldier returning from war. He say’s something about how the only feelings he has that he knows are his own are those of guilt, (I paraphrased) so now we have theme; guilt. And lots of questions about this man whose voice oozes lament;Why’s he guilty?    What’s he done?     What is it he regrets? 
What memories aren’t his own?

Then a beautiful woman appears at a party. He follows her. Who is she? She knows he’s following, she stops, turns “hello Charles” she says. The screen goes black. Now we know we have a story.

Great story set up!

Then, it’s 10 years earlier when the soldier, Charles is invited to the family home, (immense mansion & grounds) of his college friend (wannabe lover) Sebastian. Charles is quickly seduced by the opulent lifestyle and Sebastian’s beautiful sister.

There were some time frame issues in this story but they managed to not be confusing when they flipped back and forth. It worked.
What I really loved was the end where he asks himself if his own hunger blinded him to the ties that bound them (the beautiful woman and her family) to their faith? This is his regret and it burns deep. Story question answered. And at the end when he goes to extinguish the candles flame, but then can’t, it’s a poignant metaphor for the story. The story telling devices in this film were lovely. Well done. Impactful. Objects like the painting over the mantle of Mother and Child, resonated profoundly with the storyline of one of the characters much like the candle in the end harkened back throughout the narrative. Great ending! Again, it wasn’t my favorite film by any stretch, but the story telling devices were excellent.

Boondocks is campy, weird and brilliant. I’ll cover that in a couple days.
Studying movies helps me study and understand story telling that works and that doesn’t. Though I’m writing a novel, studying films informs my writing, the imagery I use and what is and is not satisfying to a modern day audience. I study story telling through books, poetry, music and film. But, that’s just me. How do you study story telling?

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This entry was posted on October 28, 2011 by in Movies.
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