Sunday, November 19, 2006

Dead Protag Addendum

My recent post on Pidgeon Holing Dead Protagonist still feels incomplete. I have many films left to watch. But geez, how many films can a working/writing gal watch in a week? Most recently, I watched V for Vendetta, Pay It Forward and The Godfather.

Before I get to these two films, a refresher....

DEATH BIOGRAPHICAL - character dies because character portrayed did
DEATH HISTORICAL - historically, it's what happened
DEATH EMANCIPATORY - death is freedom
DEATH OSTENTATIOUS - the big bang
DEATH ANTICIPATORY - death is ever present threat
DEATH MATRIMONIAL - death demonstrates love story
DEATH AS SYNTHESIS - brings the story full circle
DEATH SACRAMENTAL - brings reconciliation or reform
DEATH EXPLANATORY - autobiographical narration
DEATH ANTAGONISTIC - protagonists are also antagonists
DEATH RECANTED - ersatz death

V for Vendetta and Pay It Forward are examples of DEATH SACRAMENTAL. The death of the protagonist brings about social and moral reform. In V for Vendetta, there was no other way to accomplish the goals of the protagonist. But, in Pay It Forward, was it really necessary? The reform would have taken place anyway, gradually, like filling a bathtub one drip at a time. Instead, the writer chose to turn both faucets on full blast.

Much of my suggested viewing, including The Godfather, does not qualify for this study at all. Vito Corleone is not the primary protagonist. And, Michael does not die. If Michael dies in part two, I would guess that his death might exemplify DEATH ANTAGONISTIC, DEATH ANTICIPATORY, and maybe even DEATH OSTENTATIOUS or DEATH AS SYNTHESIS, but I don't know. Still have to see the second one. Oh, shut up! I'll get to it!

Charlotte's Web - Wilbur is the primary protagonist, not Charlotte.
Star Wars - Luke is the primary protagonist, not Obi Wan.
The Green Mile - John Coffey is secondary to Paul Edgecomb
Steel Magnolias - Six protagonists. Is there a primary? M'Lynn, methinks.

Why does the death of the secondary protagonist not qualify? Because that's a whole different study in itself -- one that I don't think I'll undertake because the reasons for the death of a sidekick or mentor are varied but I would guess (yes, guess, I'm a rookie) they usually deal with somebody else's journey, growth, discovery, etc.

So, I think I'm done with this one for awhile and will concentrate on films where the protagonist is the bad guy and whatever it is that makes it work.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I always saw Pay It Forward as a Jesus story. The kid was delivering a message of peace (more or less) and was betrayed by a follower. Remember how he was laid out in the end, crucifixion like? Had the side wound. And his message became much bigger after his death. It’s been awhile since I saw it, but I bet there are more similarities.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

OMS, the death to bring about reform theme is definately the same and so is its profound effect, but the protag's death was an accident in Pay it Forward. He was threatened with a knife and another child accidentally pushed him into it during the scuffle.

shecanfilmit said...

Do you have Ghost on your list? I just watched the end of it on cable and realized it Patrick Swayze might be the protag? Yes or no?

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Yup. I compared death of the protag in Ghost to the death of the protag in the Sixth Sense. Death serves a love story purpose.

Anonymous said...

Of course, I couldn't agree with you more about The Godfather.

-MM

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