Can a character drive a full story?

Photography by John Jackson| Unsplash

When others think they have levelled up in being a movie connoisseur when they find movies celebrated by the Cannes Film festival a stamp of approval, I’ve found myself levelling up with finding characters be a story in of its own.

For the Love of Characters

When you are new to the field of storytelling, it’s easy to think that a problem is the only way to drive a story. Me on the other hand often find myself lost in a character, not the plot of the story. Can it really be enough?

In a movie or a series, I can follow a character anywhere for hours. Also in a book or comic book. It doesn’t even have to be the main character. It can be a supporting character or several and I enjoy their company like I would a good friend.

Here are a few of the movies I have seen where I wish the movie could go on for hours on end. Well, beyond the hours they actually are. All I need is a cosy blanket, popcorn and keep the tea coming.

Why the love for characters

Uncorked was a story about the unlikely sommelier and about staying true to your dreams. The main character, Elijah, shows us without telling us as much his journey. It is exquisite to watch like a fine wine.

1917 is told through two characters, Lance Corporal Blake and Lance Corporal Schofield, as they fight their way through enemy territory to warn 1600 men from walking into a deadly trap. The desperation of the characters and the perseverance they find within themselves, again and again, is a true inspiration.

Beautiful Boy is based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff. The desperation of the father and how he deals with a seemingly impossible task (I gave up again and again) kept coming up in my mind for months after watching it. “That was a beautiful movie,” I would keep saying out of the blue. After a while, my husband knew which movie I was thinking about.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is told through a man who is dedicated to his job but so bored, that daydreams are taking over his life until he needs to find a most important negative from an important photographer. His levels of daydreaming seams to prepare him for the greatest task of his life. The movie is an emotional rollercoaster and shortly we are so entangled that in the end, my husband and I couldn’t speak for a couple of minutes as we walked to our car, trying to compose ourselves. I finally stated: that is the most beautiful movie I have seen to date.

Darkest Hour shows us the days where Winston Churchill goes through challenges only a hobbit would recognise. Negotiating with Hitler, or dare to fight with everything that might entail. In these hours he finds a depth of bravery and humility which empowers him to make his choice and have the public support him.

I have a podcast called For the Love of Storytelling where I talk about the breadth of storytelling without the snobbery and judgements of frankly people who really can’t revue a movie for themselves if their life dependent on it, without leaning on other peoples opinions.

There are plenty of people who talk about the right and the wrong way of storytelling, films, series and books. I on the other hand, and hopefully you too, would like to talk about the enjoyment of great storytelling.

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