Batman Begins

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Chris Huntley
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Batman Begins

Postby Chris Huntley » May 30, 2008 10:14 am

Peter Deckard -- Batman Begins
Dear Dramatica-Fans,

i've watched this movie many times and i think more and more that it's a goldmine for Dramatica!
the movie has so many elements that matches the Dramatica-theory, i'm really impressed by that. it's a masterpiece of Dramatica!
(all the 4 clearly visible throughlines, the theme-encodings, a lot of storyweaving-techniques, hand-offs, etc.)

i've tried to make a story analysis but it's quiet a hard work. so i would like to ask all of You to help me!
let's make it together!

although i sad "clearly visible" throughlines, i can rather just feel that.
the Overall Story is like the one in the book - "stop the terrorists", here: "stop the League of Shadows" -, Bruce Wayne as protagonist has to save Gotham City and the antagonist wants to destroy it. (Future)

i would set the Main Character Throughline as an area of how to become a superhero, how to transform from Bruce Wayne to Batman. (Becoming)

my first problem arise when i try to identify the Impact Character and his throughline.
is that the antagonist guy (Liam Neeson), who is steadfast to revenge Gotham City (maybe for his dead wife)?
or the sidekick Arthur (Michael Caine), who represents the good old values of the father and impacts Bruce to "never give up" and "stand up again"?
or maybe the girlfriend Rachael (Katie Holmes), who is committed to fight the evil and has a great impact on Bruce how to behave himself?
(it should be a Concern of Obtaining - but obtaining what? or it means maybe how to control others?)

the Subjective Story is a Concern of Innermost Desires, and has a theme of Denial-Closure (maybe in connection with the vengeance?), but it's dependent on the IC.

so far i've got the following (which i found the best but not the only one):

OS: Future -> Preconception/Openness
MC: Becoming -> Responsibility/Commitment
IC: Obtaining -> Morality/Self Interest
M/I: Subconscious -> Denial/Closure

am i wrong? plz, help me to clearify the throughlines, issues, characters and all other elements!

thx a lot!


Chris Huntley Re: Batman Begins #1

Peter, that's a nice beginning for your analysis. Here are a couple of my thoughts:

I think the Impact Character role is handed-off from character to character. In the first act, Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) is the Impact Character. In Act II, Liam Neeson switches to the antagonist identity, Ra's Al-Ghul. From Act II on the Impact Character perspective/function seems to hand-off tbetween Rachel Dawes (primary), and Alfred (with a brief reprise of Henri Ducard at the climax of the film). Each of these MCs espouse an interest in the greater good (IC Issue of Morality) and a conscious rejection of personal wealth (IC Concern of Obtaining). For example, Rachel chooses to stay in a low paying asst. D.A. job to prosecute bad guys; Henri Ducard chose the life of an acolyte and ascetic over his former wealth; Alfred remains a butler even after Bruce's monies are left to him when Bruce is declared dead.

I think the Subjective Story is about the ICs's relationships with Bruce's publc persona, "Bruce Wayne" (as opposed to "Batman"). All three ICs harp on letting go of Bruce's old, bad ideas (SS Counterpoint of Closure) while Bruce doggedly refuses to let them die (SS Issue of Denial).

I think the dichotomy between "Bruce Wayne" and "Batman" are the differences between the Main Character and the Protagonist.

Chris Huntley
Write Brothers

Peter Deckard Re: Batman Begins #2

Dear Chris,

thx a lot for Your inspiring thoughts!
this ICs hand-off explains many things

my next problem is that i easily mix and confuse the Overall Story with the MC Throughline and the Subjective Story with the IC Throughline... - could You give me some advice how to separate them?

for example let's see the IC Throughline: i understand the rejection of personal wealth and the issue of doing for others but how that "impact" Bruce? IC Throughline should be an alternate point of view - but i don't think that Bruce has a problem with Morality, he takes his actions on the same lines (maybe not in Act I, but after his return to Gotham).
yes, i know the hotel-scene with the girls but it was suggested by Alfred ("Buy things that are not for sale.") - and anyway isn't that a Subjective Story scene, or not? (with the apologize to Rachel - "All this... it's not me... Inside i am more.")
hm, maybe these are 2 scenes (or events?) in reality - the first half as part of the IC theme encoding and the second half as an M/I theme?

as You can see i'm pretty unsure...

i try to be more precise in terms of the throughlines and themes:

Overall Story
- is a Situation, because everything evolves around the city Gotham (some wants to destroy it, others to save it, anothers just to rule it)
- it has a Concern of Future, because all characters are concerned with the city's future - what will happen to Gotham? is it possible to save the city, to give hope to the people, to set back the good values?
- the Issue is Preconception - maybe nobody wants to reevaluate his view, i.e. Falcone thinks even in the jail that he is the king of the city; Rachel has strong preconceptions towards Bruce and she doesn't think that he could change; Henri Ducard won't reevaluate his view about the city; Earle thinks that Bruce is a rookie in the business; Crane can't realize that his scarecrow-mask isn't frightening without the toxic gas (and so Rachel can easily beat him) and so on.

Main Character Throughline
- is a Manipulation - i would say it is the internal process, the change of Bruce from the vengeful kid to the savior of the city. how it feels to overcome his personal vindictiveness and transform his power to the service of greater good?
(is that maybe an act one change like in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"? what do You think?)
- has a Concern of Changing One's Nature - Bruce has to throw off his vengeful desires to become "Batman"
- and an Issue of Responsibility (and a Counterpoint of Commitment) - it means maybe that Bruce won't take the responsibility for execute the farmer but will be committed to fight criminals and save Gotham, even if he must face the League of Shadows... - or is that about his name, his father's heritage? the responsibility for all that? to be worthy for that?
(what is the point here? as You can see i need some help... )

Impact Character Throughline
- is an Activity, because all the ICs have a great impact on Bruce' activities. (or the ICs' activities impact Bruce? where is the emphasis?)
- Concern of Obtaining - You said that this means the "rejection of personal wealth", but how that impact Bruce? how is that an alternate point of view?
- the Issue of Morality is at least more visible - all the ICs put others before themself, i.e. Alfred does everything for Bruce, Rachel seeks justice in the city at the expense of her life, Henri Ducard is intended to sacrifice his life at Ra's order (is that the negative side of Morality? though i would say he just wants revenge...)

M/I Story
- is a Fixed Attitude - ICs and MC battle over vengeance, justice, crime, and they all have fixed attitudes in these.
- Concern of Innermost Desires - is that the same as above or more or different? how should i encode this?
- Issue of Denial - what did You mean with "old bad ideas"? vengeance?

damn, i'm getting confused!
sometimes i feel i'm totally lost in the Dramatica-jungle...

to move on, i made the following selection in the Story Engine:

OS Plot Dynamics:
Driver: Action
Limit: Optionlock
Outcome: Success
Judgment: Good

Main Character Dynamics:
Resolve: Change
Growth: Start
Approach: Be-er
PS Style: Logical

Correct or not?

i hope You can help me further

thx & bye, Peter

Chris Huntley Re: Batman Begins #3

One of the easiest ways to identify the Overall Story thoughline is to think of what EVERYONE in the story is doing or concerned with. Do NOT include the MC player in your considerations. That way you don't confuse the MC's role as an OS character with the MC's personal concerns.

For example, in Batman Begins, everyone is concerned about the sorry state of Gotham City. The "haves" have more and the "have-nots" have less. It seems to be corrupt and corroding from within. Everyone is affected by this situation (rich and poor). Specifically, the people of Gotham City are being poisoned (figuratively and literally) by bad guys.

Determining the MC throughline requires you do the reverse: consider ONLY the MC's personal issues and no others.

For example, Bruce is afraid of bats and full of hatred for the murder of his parents (father). He starts out by posing as the thing he most hates--evil doers. While working among theives and other scum he doesn't find solace. His journey is to become more moral and less self interested (because of the IC's influence). "Batman" gives Bruce a way to exorcise some of his demons by moving past feeling responsible for his parents' murder.

I see the Impact Characters influencing Bruce by what they do and what they don't do. You see this set up with his father who works to fix the OS troubles through the creation of public works (e.g. transportation). The IC "do-gooders" work to make positive gains (mostly always for others). This contrasts with Bruce's self-absorbtion.

The M/I Relationship throughline seem to be of a parent/child nature. Bruce always seems to be the petulant brat compared to the determined, more mature ICs.

As far as the Issues go, here's my quick assessment:

OS Issue: Preconception -- most everyone in GC think they know how things are in the city. The rich think they're above the troubles; the corrupt think they can do what they want with impunity; they poor think there's no way out; the baddies think Gotham is beyond redemption, etc.

MC Issue: Responsibility -- Bruce feels responsible for things beyond his control, e.g. his parents' murder. He has a severe guilt complex in place.

IC Issue: Morality -- Each of the ICs takes the moral high ground. Henri sells the importance of his group and it's efforts to improve the world (first act); Rachel works at a low paying job trying to fight the crime lords; Alfred is a selfless assistant; dead Dad (and his works) remind Bruce of the importance of helping others.

M/I Issue: Denial -- There is at least one instance in every act (usually more) where one of the ICs points out Bruce's refusal to let his baggage go. For example, Alfred reminds Bruce that Bruce cannot deny his ties to Wayne Manor (and by extension, Alfred and Dad); Rachel refuses to let her relationship with Bruce go away even though she won't let it go any further either; Henri points out that Bruce cannot bring things to an end and that Bruce is in Denial.

Without creating a storyform, I'd say your character and plot dynamics choices look on the mark.

Chris Huntley
Write Brothers

Peter Deckard Re: Batman Begins #4

Dear Chris,

Your help is invaluable for me! many thx!

the next level is the Problem-level.
i had to choose between Control and Uncontrolled as the OS and MC Problem, and finally i set my vote to Uncontrolled.

OS Problem: Uncontrolled -- Gotham City is fully uncontrolled, it seems that everything is out of law and order. even the cops are hopeless and only a few dare to fight against this situation. as the antagonist nears even Earle and Falcone loose their control over the situation (Earle and the Wayne Corp. loose their deadly weapon, Falcone his mind). the bad guys poison works the same way: it creates chaos, a terrifying uncontrolled situation.
only with Batman's emergence is hope back on the streets - he is the only one who can set back control in GC.

MC Problem: Uncontrolled -- as You said, Bruce feels responsible for things beyond his control. he makes uncontrolled actions which leads to nowhere (ie. go among criminals). it seems he can barely match the expected "Wayne-role": he cannot control his own business (Earle do that) and his public life looks like a disaster (scandal at the hotel; "drunken billionaire burns down home") - far from his father's legacy.
his journey is to regain control over his life, to overcome his anger, his guilt complex. to do that he must focus his energy - that's "Batman"!

IC Problem: Oppose -- all ICs hold on to their morality which is opposite with Bruce's one. their steadfastness makes Bruce to change his opinions in the most important issues - i would say, they show the right track: how to never give up and stand up again (Alfred), how to fight with no fear and self-interest (Rachel), how to make ultimate decisions (Henri).
how would You explain Oppose/Support as the IC Problem/Solution?

M/I Problem: Temptation -- the MC and ICs struggle over Temptation as Bruce would take actions for immediate benefits (ie. revenge on Chill) and he's not aware that these are just dreams with serious consenquences. the ICs work like Bruce's conscience. (Rachel to Bruce: "what you do that defines you")
is it possible that Bruce has with all ICs separately his own "battle" considering the M/I Problem?

bye, Peter

Chris Huntley Re: Batman Begins #5

Excellent analysis. Good job.

-- Chris

Peter Deckard Re: Batman Begins #6

i hope, i'm not making You tired

this time i try to review some static Story Points.

Story Goal: Future -- the central goal of all characters revolves around the future of Gotham City (and their personal future within). everyone is affected by this as the bad guys want to destroy GC and Batman tries to save it.

Story Requirements: How Things are Changing -- it's a race against time who will sooner and better prepare for the last battle. this progress is clearly seen as Ra's Al Ghul nears the city and Batman has to do with more and more harder opponents. the way to the goal is measured by this progress. Batman self has to improve his abilities and skills. (ie. bats as "backup")
(if everything would remain the same the League of Shadows could easily destroy the city as the corrupts and the riches aren't aware of the on-coming danger, only Batman's emergence gives some hope for the good ones)

Story Consequences: Innermost Desires -- if the League of Shadows wins then GC will go under in chaos. people would transform in zombie-like creatures driven by their nightmares and instincts, killing each other. (maybe Bruce's vengeance is a same "basic drive"?)

Story Forewarnings: Playing a Role -- it is really frightful how the city's biggest godfather turns into a lunatic and his power turns out to be only a "playing role" as the League of Shadows nears. we can feel that it's only a foretaste: the odds are against GC because its dreadful crime lord was beaten so easily. Crane's scarecrow-mask is also nothing more than "playing a role".

Story Dividends: Changing One's Nature -- along his journey Bruce changes his nature and that brings him benefits, ie. he will be worthy to his father's memory, and of course Rachel's attitude toward him changes also (she won't hold him "the same great little kid you used to be" anymore).

Story Costs: Obtaining -- toward the goal Bruce obtains a lot of wounds, he is poisoned, suffers from nightmares (emotional trauma), and finally his mansion is burned down which was a home for his family over centuries - a tremendous lost!

Story Prerequisites: Impulsive Responses -- Bruce goes among criminals as he cannot revenge Joe Chill. there he'll be find by Ducard. he joins the League of Shadows and learns martial arts from them. then he refuses to kill the peasant and will confronted with Ra's Al Ghul. (innate responses which lead him to "Batman")

Story Preconditions: Doing -- in the prison Bruce beats 6 or 7 men hollow and so Ducard can notice him (and leads him to the League to be one of their leader). after his return Bruce has to "do" spelunking, cave diving and base jumping to get Fox' special stuff
after Batman catches Falcone he gets Gordon's help (after mistrust now he thinks that Batman is one of the good ones).

i hope i'm on the right track...

(very interesting: Witness has the same story points!)

Chris Huntley Re: Batman Begins #7

On the whole, your illustratons are on target. My single criticism is that many of your illustrations focus exclusively on "Bruce" and not on the Overall Story characters. For example, who else sees Story Costs in the story? There are plenty in this film.

Chris Huntley
Write Brothers
Chris Huntley
Write Brothers Inc.

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