The movie "Contact"

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phillybudd
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The movie "Contact"

Postby phillybudd » Jul 11, 2010 4:11 pm

Hi Chris,

I'm wondering if you could reflect on the movie "Contact" with regards to the Dramatica theory. It's one of my favorite movies, but I also know that's because Jodie Foster does such a spectacular job through the film. It's a very "character driven" story, in that regard.

The film does seem overly long to me, in certain ways. And I watch this film and find myself completely flummoxed in terms of who is the impact character, who is the antogonist, etc etc. (You think it's Tom Skarret, but he dies a third of the way in.) I'm wondering if you can shed some light on this. Is the film flawed in terms of the Dramatica model?

Thanks so much.

Jeff

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Chris Huntley
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Re: The movie "Contact"

Postby Chris Huntley » Jul 11, 2010 5:45 pm

Though I don't think there are any pure archetypal characters, I can generalize the following:

David Drumlin (Tom Skerritt) is the contagonist with bits of antagonist thrown in. After he is gone, James Woods steps in.

S.R. Hadden is the guardian.

Ellie (Jodi Foster) is the MC Protagonist.

Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey) is the IC.

The argument between MC and IC is a Logic/Feeling, Faith/Disbelief argument.


The pacing is strange because the whole "trip" part of the movie happens without an antagonist, or any serious conflict at all. The closest thing are the residuals of the controlling efforts by the "non-believers" in the alien technology (represented by the shaking chair). Essentially, the story stops for the cool stuff (and some personal exploration).

Once Ellie is back, the story picks up. That's why it seems overly long, but still works.

Apparently, one of the last writers working on the rewrite had Dramatica (this is true) and introduced the IC and subjective story, plus tightened up the central conflict. It is also the first movie I ever saw the I KNEW Dramatica was used on by watching the movie, even before I found out about it's complicated "written by" history.
Chris Huntley
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http://dramatica.com/
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phillybudd
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Re: The movie "Contact"

Postby phillybudd » Jul 13, 2010 5:27 am

Wow, great story about Dramatica being used... although I think they could have done a more thorough job of it.

Thanks for correcting my spelling of "Skerritt" by the way (oops).

I did understand that Palmer is the IC -- although he feels oddly not very "present" emotionally in much of the film -- especially since he is the love interest. But of course the Faith/Disbelief and Feeling/Logic argument is present, as you point out, in several different ways throughout, even when Palmer is not physically present.

Jeff

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Re: The movie "Contact"

Postby Chris Huntley » Jul 13, 2010 8:46 am

The movie differs greatly from the book. In the book (as I understand it since I have not read the book), there is a group of scientists that go on the journey and each one has a different, personal experience of the trip. The book was more of a conceptual exploration of the "what if?" kind than a grand argument story.

My guess is that earlier drafts of the script tried to capture that aspect of the book -- unsuccessfully. The script had MANY uncredited rewrites from what I have been told. It wasn't until the end that Dramatica came into play to help shape the story structure. I think that is why the Dramatica story elements are so undiluted and stand out starkly against the original material.

All-in-all, I think they did a good job in the end.

I really enjoy the film.
Chris Huntley
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phillybudd
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Re: The movie "Contact"

Postby phillybudd » Jul 15, 2010 8:13 am

Interesting article on Wikipedia about the making of the film. I had to laugh at the reference to the film being in "development hell". The section on the development is especially interesting...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contact_(film)


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