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.
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.
Waaaaaaaaaay back in DZ-5, Stu and Chas examined how shifting narrative point of view (i.e. what the audience knows in relation to the characters on screen) heightens emotions in any given scene. We’ve now taken that micro idea and applied it to the macro: how can deciding what the audience knows and when in relation to the characters organise your story? Are whole sequences or even acts driven by the audience following a character, feeling concerned about a character, empathising with a character or being absorbed in the irony of knowing more than all the characters interacting on screen.
To tackle this topic, Stu and Chas dive in to films that make very conscious structural choices in relation to narrative POV, namely: GET OUT, DUNKIRK and the underrated German film THE LIVES OF OTHERS (with honourable mentions to LA CONFIDENTIAL and MANCHESTER BY THE SEA).