It’s time. The Epic Deep Dive(TM) into Antagonists has reached its shuddering conclusion. And for this Part V – by choosing films that have no obvious singular antagonist (and in some cases no obvious narrative either) – Stu and Chas realised there was indeed a final category of antagonists: the films themselves. Where the film (and the filmmaker) are engaging directly with the audience. Where the films are… VERSUS AUDIENCE.
The films that led to this “insight” often lie to the audience; talk directly to the audience; misdirect the audience; take the audience on meandering narrative strolls; or make the central character the antagonist to all other characters. Sometimes these techniques power a single scene. Sometimes they take up the whole film. All this to keep the audience compelled in the absence of singular antagonists. And these films are – drum roll, please – OCEAN’S 8, THE SECOND, F FOR FAKE, SANS SOLEIL and FORREST GUMP.
This is Part Four (!!) of our Five Part Epic Exploration into antagonists forces and sources of conflict. In this episode we explore “system/world/society” antagonists. While stereotypically associated with science-fiction, these sources of conflict are found across genres.
To that end, we talk MINORITY REPORT, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, MUDBOUND, and THE LOBSTER – with a special mention of high school movies.
We continue refining our tools surrounding antagonists/sources of conflict: obstacles, pressure, enablers, pushers, pullers, education and thwarting. We especially focus on how the pressures of the system/world/society force characters to either submit to the system, overthrow it or escape it; and how framing all of your characters’ journeys in relation to the rules of the world they inhabit can lead to a thematically strong story.
In Part Two of our Five Part Epic Exploration™ into antagonists, Chas & Stu take a look at “vs self” stories. Stories where the protagonist (or main character) serves as their own antagonist as well as the antagonist for those around them.
It took us a long time to settle on our homework, but we ended up exploring LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, SHAME, and MONSTER. Our discussion continues in backmatter with MINDHUNTER and STEVE JOBS.