Finding plot devices isn't that hard. Just look for elements that repeat themselves throughout the film. Callaham's Godzilla contains patterns from the very first scene, at Joe Brody's house, where his son, Ford, teams up with mom to put on a surprise birthday party for dad. The camera tracks the boy wearing a green t-shirt with a string of "Happy Birthday" letters trailing from behind, like a Godzilla tail. This shot is no mistake. It's Callahan's attempt to tell a story about how about every monster in the world - including humans - have families too. Godzilla, a tale of peace and mayhem in a battle filled with creatures looking for the same kind of love they got from the day they were born.
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.
At the age of 50, Star Trek shows no sign of slowing down. What started as a "wagon to the stars" sci-fi adventure story quickly turned into a hit phenomenon to include all people from all places all over the world. This bold mission encourages diversity, courage and love for all creatures big and small - and galaxy-wide. At Ottawa Commiccon 2016, John de Lancie and Rene Auberjonois shared the stage for a Q&A panel about Star Trek turning 50. They talked about what led them to T.V., how they got on Star Trek and what they think the franchise is all about.
Zen Buddhism is perhaps one of the oldest religions in the world. Its main purpose is to induce a state of enlightenment through a practice called meditation, an emptying of the mind. Meditation is often used in conjunction with another technique called a koan. A koan is a paradoxical riddle that befuddles the practitioner to the point of frustration and enlightenment. A famous example would be: Two hands clap and there is a sound. What is the sound of one hand clapping? Another example: How does a man give himself coordinates for outer space if he needs to go into outer space to get the coordinates? Answer: Interstellar.
(Spoiler Alert - The ending revealed in more ways than one)
(Spoiler Alert - The ending revealed in more ways than one)
Terminator Salvation is a sci-fi operatic war story that centers around a hero - John Connors - whose destiny is to save humanity from artificially intelligent machines. The story runs like an American militiaman's nightmare where personal freedom is lost at the behest of a terrible New World Order. Fighting Americans, scattered throughout, are glued to their transistor radio with the hopes that Connors will make Resistance dreams come true. Salvation views like a visually panoramic Mad Max film with cheesy Godzilla-like machine monsters that breath fire on its victims. So what's so horrible about the first scene? A plot device gone wrong.
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 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.
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.
|Click to Purchase|
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.