Friday, 24 September 2010

Conflict and Theme

Universal Conflicts
A conflict is a problem getting in the way of the character's goal, a dilemma which creates tension for the character putting the character in jeopardy. Conflict has been categorized into types of familiar stories such as Brains vs. Brawn, Good vs. Evil and so on.
In feature films there will be a primary conflict and maybe secondary and tertiary conflicts.

Universal Themes
The meaning or dominant idea of a story is called a theme.
Stories have meanings and they communicate something to us larger than the story its self, a theme.

Themes are often based on human needs:
- Physical needs
- Mental needs
- Spiritual needs

and within these categories the basic needs of food, shelter, security, acceptance, stimulus, love and order.

So in a feature length film there is the main theme and then sub themes which drive scenes and secondary character relationships. Such as in Beauty and the Beast at the beginning of the film we are shown the theme already with the shot of the rose in the glass case and the rules of the characters world. The first words in the prologue we hear in Beauty and the Beast,
"You must learn to love another and earn their love before the last petal falls. Then the spell will be broken."

What makes a story unique?
As there are limited themes, conflicts, structures and character types, what makes new stories unique?

Robert McKee states that story is about form, not formula.

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