One of the most important elements in story is conflict. If you don’t have a conflict in your story, no one will want to watch it. And creating conflict in a story can be complicated.
It’s easy to create good guys being pursued by bad guys (like T1000 chasing John Connor in Terminator 2, or the Fratelli’s chasing the Goonies), but creating conflict between your good guys (and even within themselves) while they are being pursued is more difficult.
To help get an idea of how stories utilize conflict, I’ve broken down conflict in a movie that excels at it. Here are four sources of conflict in Blood Diamond:
Movie quotes are my life. If I can find someone who will quote a movie with me week after week, that person and I are going to be firm friends. I think about movie quotes so often that it seems fitting I share some of my favourites. Sometimes I write a little explanation why, sometimes I let the quote stand for itself.
Here are twenty of my favourite movie quotes (in no particular order):
Awhile back a friend and I were talking about our favourite movie score. To supplement the discussion I decided to gather up a shortlist. My initial shortlist was 66 tracks long. I started to condense the shortlist into a top ten. I only had two rules: I could only pick one track per movie, and it had to be a movie score track, rather than a soundtrack song (as in, instrumental music written for the movie rather than an already published song included in the movie).
As I narrowed the list I realized I was choosing movies that meant the most to me. In the end I wasn’t looking for my favourite overall movie score, but a track from a movie that encapsulated scenes, or moments, or overall feelings from movies I loved. When I finally showed my top ten list to my friend he didn’t recognize a lot them. So I decided to write up what made those tracks meaningful to me.
So spoiler alert: In some cases I not only had to describe the foundation of the movie, but the overarching plot or themes as well. Some of the tracks were more involved than I thought. I tried to remain away from spoilery plot details wherever possible, but in moments where the movie score track accompanies the climax / ending, that was unavoidable. I’d also like to note that I only have very basic music training so where I’m talking about the music itself, I’m simply doing my best to communicate how the music makes me feel.
Here are my top ten favourite movie score tracks (in no particular order):
Stranger Things has a rare quality you don’t often see in TV and film — it feels alive. There are many things that help create this quality, like its overwhelming love and appreciation for the 80’s, the small town setting that allows us to experience the events on a small scale, the desperate, frantic desire for a Mother to find her son and for a police chief to finally save a child after losing his daughter, and the phenomenal soundtrack. But I think the heart of Stranger Things is the friendship between the boys and Eleven.
Here are four ways in which Stranger Things reveals friendship as its heart. (Please note: I will be discussing the series as a whole, so if you haven’t finished yet, please do not read until you are done. Major spoilers ahead.)
A character often works better when he or she has something they need. When a movie establishes something a character needs and then allows them to get it by the movie’s end, we cheer with them because we have been a part of the wish fulfillment process. Giving a character something they need is why we cheer when Hadley (Bradley Whitford) finally sees his Mer-Man in Cabin in the Woods, or when Django (Jamie Foxx) kills the Brittle Brothers in Django Unchained, or when Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) kills Count Rugen (Christopher Guest) in The Princess Bride.
This is different than what a character wants, however. Sometimes what a character wants conflicts with what they need (like how Inigo wants to get drunk rather than work towards finding his Father’s killer). Often what a character needs will be in the form of a dream.
In the movie Magic Mike XXL there is particular dedication to giving multiple characters what they need. The movie is about a group five of friends / strippers headed to Myrtle Beach for a stripping convention. Previously the men worked together at the same club in the previous film (Magic Mike) run by Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). However, since then Mike (Channing Tatum) has left the stripping business to pursue his own business as a furniture maker as well as a relationship with Brooke (Cody Horn) and Dallas has abandoned the club and the other guys. With Dallas gone and the guys unemployed, the trip to the stripping convention is meant to be one final stripping ride before moving onto other jobs.
Despite being a movie about male strippers, Magic Mike XXL may be the best example of giving characters something they need I’ve seen in recent memory. Here are four ways in which Magic Mike XXL gives characters what they need.