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Dynamic, Flat and Allegorical Characters

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Dynamic characters.So, majorly we can think of Marlon Brando, in the Kazan’s On the Waterfronts,please watch it during this long weekend. ‘Rebel without a Cause’ James Dean’s.In fact it is very interesting to note that, dynamism on the screen; dynamiccharacters started getting notice especially with the advent so called method acting.So, both Brando and Monte Clift as well as James Dean to an extent, they were all method actors,trained in Stanislavski method of acting. We will be talking about that at some stage.Campy character, very flat. You know, how many of you watched the movie called ‘Disco Dancer’,Mithun’s Disco Dancer, have you? Then please do watch it, it is very incongruousin a film studies, this kind of a course; then suddenly I talk about Disco Dancer, butdo watch it and it will you great inside in to Bollywood camp, it has all the features of the camp.A camp can also be serious; camp need not be confused with cult, somebody wastalking about this camp cult, not necessarily, but yes characters are pretty flat becausethat is what camp is all about. And the beauty of camp is that all characters are flat.So from flat to round, round characters again are also dynamic.John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever; how many of you have watched this movie,Azhar, have you? Watch it all over again, the uncut and abridged version.We will talk about the film after the endof this class; just hang on, do not leave the class before this.Robert De Niro, for example in Raging Bull, the dynamic characters, they have multi-faceted characters,round characters; there are many aspects to the character. You cannot say exactly, this isthe good guy or bad guy; they are in shades of grey. So, that is what I mean by roundcharacters and there is also progression in the characters, by the end of the film thereis the progression, there is something you know the character has learned about himselfand about life and about other people. My question to you, character form very popular,everyone's favorite, Ocean Eleven, Ocean series. what are they? How would you classify?Flat, but then that adds to the beauty. Flat character, I mean you expect this character to behavein a way to speak certain one liner otherwise there would not be any ocean series.So, you want, each character is a stereotype. It represents a type.They tell you something and you expect.In the second series, if they start going against the type, you will bedisappointed, I am sure. So, you want the same things to happen repeatedly in every sequel.So, therefore when we talk about or when we come to our discussion on the sequels,film sequels, we expect the same kind of characterization.But all sequels are not necessarily flat characters,for example again Godfather had several sequels.Stereotypes, tell me what is a stereotype in a movie, like hugely popular movie like Devdas?Student: The dramatic, melodramatic mother, apart from it.Melodramatic mother, yes it does not get more melodramatic than what we saw in that movie.The alcoholic lover, I mean we all love such lovers, right, who give up their lives,and future and all ambitions for the love of their life. And of course, you have the golden heartedcourtesan, the prostitute with the heart of gold; that is the trope that is a cliché,but then it is not the cliché common only to our films, the western also had plentyof such characters, the clichés. Remember, we were talking about the blonde and the darkhaired girl; the dark hair girl would always have dubious morals, but at the end wouldalways take the bullet on the heart for the hero.Characters are often enigmatic, interesting characters; for example Juliette Binoche's characterin Chocolat, not much is known about their past, their background, where they come from, howthey are going to end, they are mysterious.Can you think of more mysterious characters?Student: Joker in the Dark knight.Yes the joker in the Dark knight. See jokeris not physically powerful at all. He gets bashed up all the time by the dark knight,but what makes him such a formidable opponent? The mind games he is able to play.And of course you know, since we are on the topic of Joker.Joker is the good example of the unreliable narrator. Can you give me some examples, why?Student: That’s because he have different versions of his past and he does not know,Do you know how I got these scars? At one point he tells Maggie Gyllenhaal characterthat his wife was the gambler and her face and he gives you the entire story, in orderto appease his wife, he carves his own face and that is how he got these scars.At another point he tells someone that his father gave him some scars; son, why so serious, let usput a smile on that face and that is how I got the scar. And at the end he wants to tellthe batman, you know again the mind game; do you know how I got these scars and we allknow the answer to that. So, he is the unreliable narrator. We do not know his past, we do notknow anything about him and he does not give any clues, so unreliable narrator with an enigmatic past.Characters as dramatic foils to each other.Harold and Maude, have you watch the movie? She is 80 and he is 20, she is in love withlife and he is in love with death, they fall in love; and it is not a platonic love, let me tell you.If you watch the movie and she is 80 and he is 20 and they have a love affair,Harold and Maude but they are still very enigmatic and very dramatic characters, contrastingcharacters and very interestingly done sketch of two kinds of people. I often think of thismovie whenever I watch Zohra Sehgal on screen, the way she banters with other characters,she is a very interesting actor; so if you have watched Saawariya for instance, haveIs there anyone, do not get put off by Saawariya's reputation; it is a very esthetically,very well made, very well acted, very well shot, very well presented film.((Refer time 34:15)), we had Ravi K Chandran with us, remember who did the cinematography of Saawariya;and he told me the Saawariya has been taught in many American Universitiesas the part of the cinematography course, and it is very well done movie.People just talk without watching this movie. So, Zohra Sehgal in Saawariya is a very interesting character.Even if you watch her, playing with Bachchan’s mother in Cheeni Kum,full of life and always very dynamic.You do not find out that conventional, flat, melodramatic mother.Characters acting as foils to each other;two types of personalities you know, one is good and one is evil, one is strong and silentand other guy is vivacious and talkative.Can you think of any example?Sholay, our most popular bollywood film, Jay and Veeru are foils to each other.Good cop and bad cop. Seven, it is a good study. Lethal Weapon is a good study of foils.A foil often is a trope in buddy films, as we were just talking; like good cop bad cop,48 hours, Midnight Run with Robert Deniro. ‘Rain Man’ with Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman.Character acting foil, if both of them are alike, it be a boring fare after a while.The plot arises; the interest in the plot arises because the way the characterization is done.If you watch both these movies, Midnight Run and Rain Man, you take away the contrastin the characters, and then much of the plot would be lost.Characters can also be caricatures, not just the stereotypes.For example, Gloria Swanson's character in Sunset Boulevard.She lives, she is an actress, passed her prime, she livesin the ivory tower; oblivious to the fact that nobody wants to watch her films any more.She keeps watching her old films in her home theater all the time and obsessed with herself,therefore caricaturing an actress past her prime.And they could be comic as well as tragic figure as in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard.So, leitmotif, just to give you indication of what a leitmotif is; well leitmotif couldbe a repetition of the single action or gesture or a phrase or the idea of the character andoften it adds value to the character.Rajini tossing the cigarette, Salman Khan doing thingswith the Ray ban sun glasses are leitmotif. People want to watch that however flat characteryou may think like Chulbul Pandey is; you know the leitmotif add to his character. So, that is the trade mark.Even the pieces of music could be; Joker’s music for example,Batman's music, there are all indicative of character, they evoke this kind of character.James bond, of course, we all know the music as a leitmotif. And a catch phrase is againindicates the character. I will be back, and then Bruce Willis in the latest version of the expendables says,this time I will be back.Character can be allegorical; they refer to certain kind, certain types in the particularsocio-historical period or context. For example, Garry Coopers’ role in High Noon,indicative or symbolized those people who where blacklisted during the Mccarthy period.In the movie he plays the sheriff where he is ostracized by his town people because of certain fear,certain malicious gossips about him but later we have realized that he was in the right.So, that is an allegorical character.Character can be moral, can have moral dialectics,very ambiguous or can represent certain philosophical truths,and what was the movie that comes to your mind?I mean, I can think of Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, Wild Strawberries,extremely philosophical, existentialist. The seventh seal, how many of you watched Bergman at all?Wild Strawberries, so watch it, go through the movie you will understand.See, do not go by formidable reputation again and again, I talk in this course about Chulbul Pandeyas well as Bergman, so what the moral you should take up away from my course?Be open minded, I mean you can talk about Disco Dancer as well as you can talk about Being John Malkovich.So do not look down up on any kind of cinema as well as, do not get put off by certain kind of cinema.Its Bergman, I think it will go over my head.Why watch it? Its Kurosawa, it will be slow. It is Satyajeet Ray, oh my god; he will beall about some grose, poverty, starving children, famine, and all those, it is not like that,that was the scenario only in Pathar Panchali.Many of Satyajit Ray’s movies deal with very rich people.You can watch them as well for example, Charulatha or Jal Sagar;all these are very, so do not go by stereotypes about people, films and film makers.Watch everything with an open minded. So, watch Bergman, and watch the Wild Strawberries.If you not face booking at the same time as a watching movie, not attending to your cell phone,you will find it lot of things which are interesting.‘Being John Malkovich’, what it is about?Entering into another person’s head.What is that to do to you? It is not possible, it is actually an allegory. What happens whenyou start obsessing with people, obsessing about someone, and then the aftermath of it?Any comments at this point, any characters and any interesting characters you would like to tell me about.Travis Bickle is many things, high on internal action, internal conflict,as well as external conflict, and action; he is the highly existentialist character.He looks for a meaning in a meaningless world and that is the Travis Bickle character; unfortunately,he never got any all those great awards for his acting, but I think he deserved it.Student: Apocalypse now‘Apocalypse Now’. Are you talking about Brando or Sheen?Why you think Sheen’s character in Apocalypse Now is interesting?Have you watched Apocalypse now? It is a very complex role and very well done. Watch it.He almost had, that is the inside story; he almost had heart attack while preparing for the role,you can really imagine the intensity.Another great theoretician apart from E M Forster is Henry James in his ‘Art of Fiction’,mentioned something about telling character and showing characters.Vijji while doing Henry James with you, did I ever talk with you telling and showing characters?Can you re-collect anything?Student: Film with reference to a novel, we had Washington,.Yeah, good. Telling characters are when awriter or film maker tells you or gives you a lot of details about that character thatmeans he is telling you all about it, you need not wreck of brains about understandingthat particular character. It happens very frequently in novels, in plays also; whereall the clues and all the description are given, you know she is sensual, he is greedy.The writer is already helping you to make up your mind about the character.Showing is no detailing, you just have to understand. Six degree of separation by John Guare,well Guare takes the trouble of telling you anything about his character except aparticular character is black American and that is all he tells you, the color of the skin;the others are rich white people. Then you have poor white people as well.That is all he will tell you, but he never tell you how to interpret them, that is left to you.But there are people who tell you exactly what to think of particular character, sothat was common device in most of our cinema, especially the cinema till the 1990s; nowof course, we are having lot of improvement in the screenplay, writing etcetera.But there was the time when to establish the character, what would the film maker do?He is good guy, simpleton, what would he do?All good deeds in the world, every good deed, he will basically sing a song.In the song he will do all the good things; he will help a blind man crossthe road, he will gives his coat to a shivering man, he will give away his last penny to astarving child or beggar, whatever, he will do everything. So, whatever you are been toldlook here, you are looking at a very nice guy, so do not think.The bad guy would be there and would he be? He is a rich man, invariably.In cinema of particular period, all bad people were rich people.They would always drink. They would always smoke, they would alwaysbe watching cabarate dance in a CD bar and in a five star hotel.That is telling us; look this is bad and this is good.Showing character, the film maker leaves itto you to make up your mind, for example, consider Love Sex and Dhoka by Dibakar Banerjee.He does not tell you, I mean there is a guy who records for the camera certain intimate x with the girl.You are never told that the boy could be that creepy; it just goes withthe flow and then it happens and we are left to decide to our self that, what to make out of this boy and that girl.That is showing character, the director would not go to extremelylength to tell you what to make out these characters, telling and showing.Student: Kevin Spacey’s character in..Whose character is that?Student: Kavin Spacey’sDo you think that we are, I mean, if you aretold that certain things about Kevin Spacey that he is poor crippled or what will you do?Cripple sit in the corner while we rob the place and that is misleading us; that is a very intelligent device.The entire plot is all about deception.You are talking aboutunreliable narrator. Funny games?Student: No, David Lynch movie, Mullholand Drive.You see again it is an enigmatic character, it is also philosophical character.The other girl is almost a foil to her; that is now Naomi Watts and the other actor.What is her name in David Lynch Mullholand Drive?Mullholand Drive for obvious reasons happens to be favorite of this institute.All the boys talk to me about Mullholand Drive; for the last sevenyears I have been hearing this, so that mean there is something about the movie.So, we will meet on Monday, thank you very much.