Episode 2 : Character Contrast and Raising Stakes
When someone close to us dies it emotionally affects us and we change, success changes us, subsequently a failure. Change is a part of nature.
In every archetypal tale exits change can be found in it, look at some classic/clichéd storylines like rag to riches, riches to rags, boy gets girl, boys loose girl , see there is a change.
The beginning and end are not the same, and if you take a closer look they are opposites. When this opposite archetype is employed in writing, there is not only a change between the beginning and ending, there is a contradiction between them making the climax more meaningful and memorable.
So, to tap into the full potential of change, we need to invest it into the major characters of the film, the Protagonist and antagonist. Through them, we can witness the change.
We’ll look into one old film Casablanca, where the factor of change makes the film climax etched into our memory. The protagonist of the film Rick Blaine owns an upscale nightclub and gambling den in Casablanca, he doesn’t look out for others, the most important person in the world to him is himself. But it changes, in the climax; he fights for the love of his life but lets her go for her sake and thus evolving into a better human being, a selfless one.
As evolving beings we emotionally connect to this process, we see ourselves on a screen when it happens. This technique can be applied to any genres; but mostly it’s used in romance.
Change is the bedrock of life and subsequently the bedrock of narrative and without change, there is no drama and subsequently no story.
Most of the mainstream film is fuelled by a protagonist want and the film ends when he/she gets it.
Take the Spielberg classic Jaws, the chief of police Martin Brody goes on a mission to hunt and kill a shark that is on a killing spree on the shores of the island, we the audience know the film ends when he kills the shark but what is at stake makes the climax of the film to reach its peak point, it’s Brody’s life on the line, if he fails to kill the shark he gets killed, thus making him to kill the shark not only to the save the people but also himself.
Stake can be a person, a thing or a piece of information that our characters hold on to it while they are marching towards their objective. Every common man has their own stake, a 12th grader has to get top scores in boards to enter a good college and if doesn’t he will not get in, a cricketer needs to keep scoring runs to be in the team and if he doesn’t he loses his spot.
In Jaws, Brody needs to kill the shark to save him and the people on the island. This life or death scenario can give the climax the edge it requires. Take any James Bond movie, which works on the same Life or Death scenario. Bond is on a mission against an antagonist who has some evil plan to take over the world by mass destruction and in the climax of the film he needs to save the world, the Bond girl and himself and how he does it made the film to withstand time.
But every stake doesn’t need to be life or death scenario. It can be love or a child or a doll or a painting etc.
In Naduvula kocham pakkatha kaanom the stake is the marriage, the friends of Prem not only need to hide Prem’s memory loss but also make him go through the marriage.
Now our protagonist has something to lose and this adds value to the story. We are hooked on till the last frame to see whether the marriage will happen or not and we can clearly see the stake has its own dramatic purpose like a 12th grader’s board results.