Showing posts with label Characters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Characters. Show all posts

How Pamela Ewing Got me Hooked On Stories
Or How I Learned to Hate Season-Long Dream Sequences

The summer of 1986 was plentiful, in its own way, with news that would change the world and events that we would never forget. But I'll always remember the moment, at home in our tiny living room, with the RCA colour TV set tucked away in the corner, away from direct sunlight, so that we could all make out the amazing plethora of images that would sprawl against the smoothly arced television screen. That was a moment when TV history happened - bad TV history. There I was, a young kid, with big brown eyes, lying in his favourite position on the floor, stomach down with elbows to the floor and palms pressed against his cheeks, as Pamela Ewing (Victoria Principal) wakes up from her dream. Shazbat!!! I raised from the floor like an animal ready to take a flight. It was a moment of shock. I mean, Dallas was a cool show.

Sure, J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) was a douchebag like no other, but seriously, the guy knew how to get out of trouble. His brother Bobby (Patrick Duffy), had a heart of gold, but now dead, left Dallas in a kind of screwed up position in prime time TV land. Something had to be done to bring him back. Something harsh. Yes, that's the scene when Pamela wakes up, with shorter hair and dreamy eyes, who nonchalantly walks over to washroom only to find her nude hubby taking a shower like it was Season 7.

Gilgamesh's Enkidu and the Bible's Adam Similiarities

The oldest story on Earth has a lot in common with the greatest story every told. The oldest story, being, of course, The Epic of Gilgamesh and the greatest, the Bible, starting with the Book of Genesis. Both have strong male leads whose lives are in a state of proverbial bliss only to be disturbed by the love of a woman. In Gilgamesh, Enkidu is a wild man who gets drawn into Sumerian life through the love of a prostitute and in the Book of Genesis, Adam is seduced by Eve to break his bond with God and live by the sweat of the brow. When two stories use the same plot we some times call it "archetype" - a word used for a mythic element that speaks to a universal human experience.

Would Joseph Campbell Like the New Star Wars?

Star Wars is often associated with the special effects grandeur introduced by George Lucas in the late 70s. New heroes and new aliens captured our imagination as well as the really cool planets they lived on. Of course, we can't forget the truly awesome X-Wing and Tie Fighters that sparred in the depths of space. But that's what  not Star Wars is all about. The story had a soul and that soul came from the inspiration of one man -  Joseph Campbell, a mythologist who popularized the notion of the hero’s journey.

Birdman: A Father and Daughter's Final Act

Birdman is a fast-paced drama that cleverly uses panning and tracking shots to tell a compelling story about a man ready to meet his dead end. It's probably a story common in Hollywood - the real Hollywood - not the fictional one, although Birdman would have you doubting both. The film starts with the protagonist, Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), levitating a few feet from the floor like a superhero in deep meditation. But Riggan isn't a superhero anymore. Nor can he levitate from the floor. He's just an ordinary man who can sit on his behind because the levitation is really a plot device called magical realism, the act of having a fantasy superimposed on the real world. It's also the reason why Birdman's ending is so hard to figure out. Riggan isn't the only one doing the fantasizing.

What if You Were a Character in a Story?

What if you were a character in a story rather than the person you think you are? What makes you special? What makes your life matter? Oddly enough, it probably wouldn't be what you do for a living or how much money you earn. It wouldn't be about the car you drive or the people you hang out with. But it may be about your closest friends and family members. The people you love and reject the most.

Why it Doesn't Matter if Jesus Was a Real Person

Christmastime comes around each year and with it, age-old questions about life and lviing. One such question is about the historical Jesus. Did he exist or not? For many, it's as easy as pointing to a superhero comic book and saying, "No, of course, not." For others, they express loyalty to their religious convictions that attest to Jesus' superhuman feats. But a third answer emerges, which is my answer, that says it doesn't matter too much whether he existed or not. Here's why.

The Tragedy of Quothen Leth - The Zero Theorem (2014)

The Zero Theorem, by Terry Gilliam, is a tragi-comedic tale easily mistaken for another Brazil. The world seems superficial and dangerous. The streets are crowded and filthy. Everyone has gone cosplay crazy with Batman as their new messiah. At the center of it all is one Quothen Leth, an honest man sucked into the black hole of his lonely, shallow environment. But Terry Gilliam has a deeper story to tell, one that cleverly exposes Leth's true predicament. Leth, in many ways, is an anti-hero who shows how dystopia can be self-induced rather than imposed by the state. It's a story about a man who creates his own misery and it is this that makes The Zero Theorem different from Brazil.

Why is Noah's Ark Still a Big Hit Today?

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It's been ages since the first flood-hero set sail on the high oceans of Planet Earth. The story has played itself out thousands of times since ancient history. But recently, Hollywood gave it a new breath of life with the new film featuring Russell Crowe. The proof is in the profits. We are still willing to pay big bucks to relish in the fantasy of total annihilation a la world flood. But what most people don't realize is that this interest has less to do with special effects and more to do with Archetypes.

An archetype is a term that describes a recurring pattern found in literature. It could be a type of person, an event or any other story element that keeps coming up. Some stories are considered to be archetypal because that's when the pattern first formed. Noah's Ark is one of them.

Kolchak Cameo in Justice League Unlimited (2004)

Kolchak: The Night Stalker was a 70's TV show about a reporter who solved paranormal mysteries in the big city. It didn't do well for ratings and got cancelled. Decades later, Chris Carter, the creator of the hit show X-Files, claimed that Kolchak  inspired his Mulder character, as the lone hero in search of the paranormal. Ten years afterward, a Saturday morning cartoon called Justice League Unlimited aired Fearful Symmetry. In it, a character bearing an uncanny resemblance to Kolchak makes a cameo appearance. He doesn't play a big role in the story, in fact, he shows up for a total about five seconds, at the most. It is a tongue and cheek moment most geeks wouldn't want to miss. Kolchak leaves his mark, once again.

H.A.L. 9000's Motives in 2001: A Space Odysssey

H.A.L. 9000 thought it could do better. And why not? Its intellectual and physical prowess were the stuff of legends. So was it any wonder that this highly superior computer didn't have a breakdown after all? Wouldn't it be more logical to assume it wanted to be the first species to contact the monolith, a relic from an equally superior species such as itself? In 2001: A Space Odyssey, H.A.L. 9000 deliberately caused the Discovery to malfunction so that it could kill off the crew and make the next, great leap into evolutionary glory. We didn't notice because we never thought to analyze H.A.L. as a character, a real person, or entity. Plot device: Characterization. The best way to figure out why H.A.L. didn't really go crazy.