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20
Jan

Great Characters

Character is most deeply revealed in moments of decision that produce change.

I think this is a principle of life, too.

Change can occur when the character makes a decision to do something different than what they’ve been doing before (like seizing control of their destiny, for example). Or the change can take place in the audience, when they recognize something they hadn’t known about the character, so that they change their attitude towards the character or their conception of them. Aristotle called this “Anagnorisis,” Notice that the change in the character can take place simultaneously with the audience. There are significant examples of this in Casablanca, Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and, Apocalypse Now, to name just a few. Read more »

4
Jan

Violence, Sex and Language — Style or Content?

The media are full of commentary on the National Rifle Association’s claim that film, tv, and video games are one of the main factors behind violence in our society. At the same time, there is a lot of commentary on Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and not only the issue of violence in this and his other work, but his propensity to use “the ‘N” word.”

Controversies about the effects of drama have been with us at least since Plato and Aristotle, and any argument that continues to be debated for centuries suggests to me that there will never be a resolution because people frequently talk past one another or focus on different facets of the diamond-like structure at the center of the debate. Read more »