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A thread on storytelling...


#321

I bet we would be surprised at how many classics are immersed in references we don’t get and don’t really need to. The Divine Comedy is probably the best-known example. Dante filled it with people he actually knew.


#322

Like INFINITE JEST, for example. In the end,it is futile to try to write a classic. Even what we consider classics today were very tied into the concerns and times of the authors. Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Dickens, O’Connor and Joyce (and on and on) were all writing novels about their times.

It’s a lot like how Renaissance art still has an impact. When Michelangelo sculpted David, it meant something much more immediate to the Florentines who commissioned it and saw it. David was a favorite theme as Florence saw itself as the underdog. However, its appeal today is far more universal in spite of whatever the artist intended.


#323

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is a good example of a book that wrote specifically about its time and place, but still resonates today and continues to make a poignant and important message today about race relations and prejudice in the legal system.


#324

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is also interesting in the difference between when the story is set and when it was published. Many of the “classic” novels of the modern age were set in the same period that they were written. However, this novel was written in the 50’s, published in the 60’s but set in the 30’s. It was set in the time most of the readers were children so they naturally identified with the child hero’s perspective in the story.

Also, adventure tales like THE THREE MUSKETEERS and THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK were actually set in a much more fictional time of the past when the characters could be idealized by that separation from the everyday. Today, you see that in IT and STRANGER THINGS. Also, I think that we’ll see more films and novels set in the 20th century as it allows greater simplification in the story.

The child hero is another interesting element for many popular classic stories. In many of the classics that will still entertain readers today like TREASURE ISLAND, OLIVER TWIST, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, THE SWORD IN THE STONE and THE WIZARD OF OZ, the protagonists are children.

Another interesting example of accidentally timelessness is Edgar Allen Poe. Because of some character assassination on the part of a rival poet, Poe has an unearned reputation for morbidity, but - at the time - the mortality rate was between six to ten times that of the 20th Century. This was a period before significant advances in medicine and people then were closely acquainted with death - this was when cemeteries grew up in popularity - and Poe’s writing was not morbid by the standards of the time, but very mainstream and popular.

However, ironically, this morbid and macabre reputation led later generations who were more infatuated with scary stories and horror than actually familiar with death and grief to his work and reading it from a completely different perspective than the audiences of his time. Poe’s work affected his contemporary audience not only from the thrills but primarily from the emotions of grief and despair it let them express. Like many have pointed out, Poe’s stories are not about some supernatural event, but instead are explorations of abnormal psychology in a real setting for the most part. Though many of the elements in his writing today are considered fantastic - they were within the realm of believability at the time and there are no actual ghosts or monsters in his stories.


#325

I like storytelling where the plot is relatively sound as one thing fits into the other. Back to the Future for example was good as the clock tower storyline fit and Marty making his father brave was nice.

Raiders was good too but it was a bunch of movie stunts put together and the end was Deux ex Machina as those spirits destroyed the Nazis. Thing is as Mark Millar pointed out once, the race to get to the ark didn’t really matter in the end because the Nazis won the race and look at what happened when they opened it. A plot hole that no one really noticed. Almost like the tacky plot hole in Reeve’s Superman of circling the Earth and turning back time.


#326

The first BTTF has a fantastic screenplay in terms of a thousand tiny almost-invisible setups all being paid off brilliantly later.

I can watch that movie endlessly, and while part of that is the performances and the stunts and the effects and the adventure, a big part of it is constantly discovering new clever touches in how the story is put together. There isn’t a line wasted.


#327

I never ken to people trying to sound smart by saying stuff like that. And this has nothing to do with undying love for Raiders of the Lost Ark. I’m a Last Crusade guy. It just doesn’t make sense to suggest that how the chase to the treasure ends somehow negates the entire chase. The whole point isn’t that Indy is the only person who could find the ark, but that he was smarter than Nazis. I mean, you don’t have to have a hugely complicated quest to rediscover the ark of the covenant to prove that Nazis were horrible people, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who are happy enough to see Nazis get their comeuppance. Indy is basically a rah-rah American hero, one of those cowboys-in-disguise figures. What would be interesting would be Indy’s descendants in, say, the Vietnam era, or today. Then it might not really be a case of cheering for the Indy figure.

Although I guess we have Benjamin Gates, too.


#328

The Indiana Jones theory has always been nonsense anyway. It’s Indy who finds the correct location of the Ark when the nazis are digging in the wrong place. Without him, they don’t find the ark at all.

Some people have argued that without Indy the nazis might have got the headpiece from Marion, and found the ark that way, which is possible. But since the other side of the headpiece also includes a direction to close your eyes when the ark is opened, then if they got that they’d survive at the end of the movie.

Also, without Indy the ark wouldn’t find its way to the warehouse at the end, and we wouldn’t get Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull! :smiley:

All this aside though, I feel like it’s missing the point to say the outcome would be the same with or without Indy. Even if that were true - which it isn’t - the story would be completely different, and that’s what we love.


#329

The Nazis only had the front of the headpiece, from the burn on Toht’s hand. If they had the full headpiece, then they would have found the ark.

It’s sort of interesting in that, if you remove Indiana Jones from the movie, it doesn’t really change the story that much. The Nazis get the headpiece from Marion, the find the Ark, take it away, open it, wrath of God, yadda, yadda, yadda.

The biggest difference is that Toht might have killed Marion in Nepal, and they might have flown the Ark directly to Hitler and end WWII really early.


#330

Did you read the rest of my post?

And like you say, in that scenario Marion probably dies too.

I find it a bit strange the way people really want to believe in a theory that says the hero of one of their favourite movies is useless and ineffective, when it’s clearly not the case.


#331

But, silver lining, the monkey lives!


#332

I don’t think the back of the heapiece said not to look in the Ark; it gave more instructions on the size of the staff needed, and without it Belloq and the Nazis wouldn’t have found the Ark. Indy had the real headpiece, and thus found the Well of Souls.

According to this source, Belloq knew of the warning and chose to ignore it.

It’s an interesting observation about the film, and even though it flies in the face of conventional heroic storytelling, the movie is still a hell of a ride. And possibly the greatest action adventure film ever made.

If that was the intent, it’s sort of an interesting meta statement that essentially makes the protagonist of the film an observer in his own story, a part of the audience watching events unfold but not effecting the outcome. Maybe, on a subconscious level, it makes it easier for the viewers of the film to sympathize with Indiana Jones and more easily see themselves in his place. If that was intentional on the part of Spielberg and Lucas, it was a gamble that paid off.


#333

I want to make this point absolutely clear:

It was MM that posted this plot hole that the race to the ark was meaningless because the Nazis were toast to begin with. How dare you defy MM on his won forum! :smile:

Anyway, I also mentioned Christopher Reeves first Superman movie and how the resolution of him circling the earth and turning back time was a huge copout. Please discuss as well.


#334

I’m more to the spirit of Dave’s last point. While maybe Indy does change things it is somewhat minimal for a heroic protagonist but I don’t really see why it matters. I think it’s possible and perfectly valid to have a narrative where the lead character is nothing more than an observer if you want to.

We had a similar debate with Skyfall where basically Bond fails in his prime mission, which is defending M, but it ended up the most popular Bond film ever so audiences clearly don’t see it as a narrative error and neither did they with Raiders.

These are primarily the kinds of things you notice after the event when analysing the plot, as we’ve seen here, but really movies are not logic problems, if they engage and excite then they’ve done the job.


#335

I agree.
Like the water thing in Signs.
It doesn’t make a lick of sense at all…but in the context of the loss of faith subplot - the use of water in the climax is pretty amazing.


#336

True… I always say that some love to “nitpick and overanalyze” movies. I don’t in my entertainment, but I prefer that the storytelling is fundamentally sound and not flawed.


#337

[quote=“alx, post:333, topic:10831, full:true”]It was MM that posted this plot hole that the race to the ark was meaningless because the Nazis were toast to begin with. How dare you defy MM on his won forum! :smile:

[/quote]

Ha I never heard that but it’s true. It is kind of a silly movie, I guess. Sometimes it turns out the movies we used to love weren’t masterpieces.


#338

I don’t think Mark originated it to be fair, it’s been doing the rounds for years.

Anyway, you’re more likely to get in trouble here for slagging off Reeve’s Superman. :slight_smile:


#339

This is true as MM does like that movie…

Shifting gears: The latest Star Trek movies is nothing like TOS and not like episodic tv. I miss TOS with the resolution was more about Kirk and Spock coming up with a clever plan and executing it. The latest movies is nothing like that just movie action and special effects. The storytelling has to be different. I can remember when the first reboot movie came out and one MWer said that it was like a desecration of Roddenberry’s vision. Thing is, movie storytelling and episodic tv are very different and it is tough to adapt one to the other.

When MM took over FF for a while, I was a little upset that the storytelling was getting further away from my favorite John Byrne run in the 80s. But if MM gave that, then it would have been a retread or rehashing. I have to accept new approaches. I have always been nostalgic about the Claremont/Byrne Xmen run and have to realize those days are gone a long time ago. Just saying…


#340

I tend to take glimpses into his reactions to things like this as glimpses into his thought process, how he comes up with his ideas, how he would do things differently. I know, for instance, that there’s been a somewhat concerted effort to retcon Huck into be a pastiche on Captain America, but it was clearly the Chief’s reaction to Man of Steel. I’m still waiting to see what he does with, say, his reaction to Blade Runner: 2049. I really want to read that. And if it already exists and I’ve just overlooked it, please let me know!