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  1. #1
    aurea plectro goldhawk's Avatar
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    On Theme: Who Are You?

    There's a new TED talk by Andrew Stanton on story. It's very interesting but the one thing that struck me was his comments on theme. At 13:40, he talks about his experience with Lawrence of Arabia and its theme, "Who are you?" I thought about it for a while and thought, Isn't this the theme of all stories, in one form or another?

    Isn't the theme of all stories being the protagonist's search for who he is and how he fits into his world? Doesn't he become the protagonist when he discovers that his world is suddenly a lot bigger that he thought and full of more problems than he wants to deal with? Isn't the story on how he eventually fits into this bigger world and copes with its problems? I think it is.

  2. #2
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    I think you maybe have a little suspense/SFFH bias there, goldenhawk. Not all fiction stories are about the protagonist finding out it's a bigger world than thought. A lot of SFFH stories and sometimes suspense stories are about that, but many, many other stories are not about that discovery. Regardless, identity is obviously a critical and common theme in most stories, so I agree with you to that extent.

  3. #3
    aurea plectro goldhawk's Avatar
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    If you're thinking just about physical barriers. Some people have emotions barriers and others, mental barriers that prevent them from thinking outside of their immediate vicinity. But you're correct; I should have been clearer.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by goldhawk View Post
    There's a new TED talk by Andrew Stanton on story. It's very interesting but the one thing that struck me was his comments on theme. At 13:40, he talks about his experience with Lawrence of Arabia and its theme, "Who are you?" I thought about it for a while and thought, Isn't this the theme of all stories, in one form or another?

    Isn't the theme of all stories being the protagonist's search for who he is and how he fits into his world? Doesn't he become the protagonist when he discovers that his world is suddenly a lot bigger that he thought and full of more problems than he wants to deal with? Isn't the story on how he eventually fits into this bigger world and copes with its problems? I think it is.
    You're actually spot on.

    There's a great blog here where all the academy award winners are deconstructed: http://www.kalbashir1.blogspot.co.uk/

    The author says in his videos that all stories are a metaphor for self-discovery (so, who am I?), maturity, seeking wholeness, finding home and some other concepts.

    That's the whole idea behind finding the new self, which is supposedly the truer self.

    That's the whole idea behind the destiny concept, you're seeking the person you're really supposed to become.

    And you see these concepts in Sci-Fi all the time. Ripley in Alien is just trying to get back home. Ripley in Aliens 2 is just trying to fill a gap (Newt is a substitute for her lost daughter).

    Great stuff.
    Last edited by AndrewT; March 22nd, 2012 at 10:07 AM. Reason: spelling

  5. #5
    aurea plectro goldhawk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewT View Post
    And you see these concepts in Sci-Fi all the time. Ripley in Alien is just trying to get back home.
    That could be another way of thinking about theme: the protagonist is trying to get home, that is, home as an emotional centre, not a building or place. It's two sides of the same coin: the protagonist is trying to figure who she is so she can find her home, or she's trying to find her home to determine who she is.

    Not all stories need to start in a State of Perfection. Here I'm thinking of City Slickers. The story starts with Mitch Robbins (Billy Crystal) no longer being satisfied with his life. He has already lost the State of Perfection. But from there on it follows the traditional story of his re-finding his State of Perfection.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by goldhawk View Post
    That could be another way of thinking about theme: the protagonist is trying to get home, that is, home as an emotional centre, not a building or place. It's two sides of the same coin: the protagonist is trying to figure who she is so she can find her home, or she's trying to find her home to determine who she is.

    Not all stories need to start in a State of Perfection. Here I'm thinking of City Slickers. The story starts with Mitch Robbins (Billy Crystal) no longer being satisfied with his life. He has already lost the State of Perfection. But from there on it follows the traditional story of his re-finding his State of Perfection.
    State of Perfection or Imperfection are two options. You start at the SoP (Paradise) and show it's loss or at the SoIP (Paradise Lost).

    With SoP, you start off at home and are exiled out of it.
    With SoIP, you are already unable to return home and have to engage in the journey to be able to get back.

    I'm thinking of LIAR, LIAR. At the beginning, Audrey is waiting for Fletcher outside the home. He is not allowed to go in because they're separating. At the end, we see the whole happy family inside the home. You can look at the whole thing as trying to get back home/SOP/paradise.

    I wish I could say that that was all my thinking, but I got most of it through watching Kal Bashir's videos.

    I think this is all fascinating stuff.

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