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Old 01-05-2017, 12:06 PM   #1
barsillae
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How not to make this a "Sad Story"

Hey everyone
I'm writing this kind of grandiose script w/ an ensemble cast. It has about 8 important characters, Ocean's Eleven-style; except that instead of getting together to pull-off a heist, they are trying to escape their death called for by the leaders of a military coup who have just taken over their country. (Long sentence, sorry).
I have plans on how to kill off (sorry babies ) two or three of my characters, including one that is the lover and best friend of one of my other characters. His death causes her essentially to "go mad", changing from a vivacious human being to just a shell of one. His death is also supposed to be the last death before they somehow all escape for good or are saved. Up until that point, I don't want my characters to be overly saddened by the deaths of these people who are supposed to be their friends. I'm framing it in a 'they are desensitized' way and I'm also using the ebullient power of the female character (who will eventually run mad) to provide emotional strength for them, which is also supposed to translate to the audience. She tells them things like 'we can't afford to grieve now. we have to be strong and get out of here alive and make sure the bastards that did this pay' blah blah blah. Lol. So my question is, is this stuff convincing enough? I want this to be a 'deep' action film, sometimes sad but not like a tear-fest. Are desensitization and survival mechanisms enough to make people not sad when by all accounts they should be?
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Old 01-05-2017, 12:08 PM   #2
mlesemann
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I would consider adding some dark humor as well, so that the characters are laughing despite the terrible things that happen.
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Old 01-05-2017, 12:53 PM   #3
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Hunger Games (Rue dies) style or Platoon (Willem DaFoe death) style comes to mind.
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Old 01-05-2017, 01:18 PM   #4
maz
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I think it would be quite tricky to write engaging characters that don't respond in a human way to terrible things happening (I always feel a huge void that takes me out of the story when it's done badly). IMO, one of the ways it's often (not always) done badly is with the kind of "pep talk" you describe from the female character

And of course it depends on the characters; if the group are hardened soldiers or mercenaries, such a response is more reasonable than from civilians.
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Old 01-05-2017, 02:53 PM   #5
barsillae
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maz View Post
I think it would be quite tricky to write engaging characters that don't respond in a human way to terrible things happening (I always feel a huge void that takes me out of the story when it's done badly). IMO, one of the ways it's often (not always) done badly is with the kind of "pep talk" you describe from the female character
Funnily enough, I was just talking to my sister and she said the exact same thing. The pep talk is unrealistic and unappealing.
I'll probably go watch death scenes in a lot of films, as suggested. See how the remaining characters recovered and what I like/dislike about em. Thanks for all the suggestions thus far
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Old 01-12-2017, 11:59 PM   #6
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One movie that comes to mind is Inglourious Basterds, where it is during WWII but you have this team of characters, laughing up and enjoying a lot of the violence as long as they are the ones committing it.
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Old 01-13-2017, 05:15 AM   #7
Panos
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There is no need not to make it sad or make it too sad. Imagine what would be the emotions if that happened in real life. These should be the emotions in your movie too. Don't afraid to be sad or funny when it fits.

Desensitized seems as a solution to make them not very sad, but there is no logical reason for humans to be desensitized! Unless you give a reason like f.e. they are poisoned with something weird by the coup leaders and they discover it at the end.

In contrast, “survival mechanisms” is just the perfect reason to continue fighting without many tears.

Now, sadness is just an emotion and it can't be permanent. Make them not just sad but scream from sadness when someone dies in front of their eyes (that you would do in real life) but then look forward, angry and continue fighting (that you would do in real life too).

Remember that there must be plausibility in your script. The exaggeration is cheesy in the same level as reducing emotions. The characters must behave, as real humans, accordingly to what they experience. The plot orders the characters what to feel, not your preferences. You have power only on your plot. The personality of a character creates a specific behaviour, but there are some standard behaviours. When your friend dies you MUST be sad. Otherwise you must create a detail in your plot to justify an unreasonable behaviour.

I see you want your movie "grandiose" and "deep", so it can NOT not to be (a bit) sad.

Last edited by Panos; 01-13-2017 at 06:38 AM.
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Old 01-13-2017, 08:07 AM   #8
sfoster
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That sounds like a problem for the director.

Focus on what makes your story engaging.
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Old 01-16-2017, 11:14 AM   #9
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There are many examples to draw inspiration from.
Saving Private Ryan comes to mind where Tom Hanks character mourns the death of one is his men in solitude and then walks back to pretend to be strong.

Or maybe going 'Requiem for a dream' is the way to create the most profound film experience from your script.
Last week I watched Brimstone by Martin Koolhoven: it is a magnificent western, but it is harsh and brutal. And although it doesn't make you feel like "happy, happy, joy , joy!" at all, there still seems to be some light in all the horror.
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