Thursday, September 4, 2008

The power (or not) of sacrifice

The other night I watched the movie Hancock. I love it! My curiosity had been piqued by someone's blog where they mentioned him and how they wondered how he'd become heroic, since he was depicted as decidedly unheroic. Plus, I usually like any movie with Will Smith in it. So I saw it, loved it. Especially the end. His true test of character showed in his sacrifice.
Then I watched the movie Wanted, with Jolie. I expected to like it. I kept hoping to really love it.

Didn't happen. And the sacrifice at the end? It did nothing for me.

So I've always been a big proponent of sacrifice in our novels. As part of the character arc and for emotional intensity.

But I learned something from these two movies.

Sacrifice means nothing if you don't care about what happens to the character.

From the beginning, we knew John Hancock was a jerk. Among other names. But through the eyes of the other hero (whose name escapes me) we realize Hancock is misunderstood. Sympathetic, even. And I wanted to root for him.
In Wanted, I had difficulty connecting to a protagonist, so when said protagonist does the Big sacrifice, I just didn't care that much.

It's a good lesson to remember for my plots.

What movies and/or books have impacted you because of their protag's sacrifice? And which ones fell flat?

7 comments:

Laura Weldon said...

Such a good point! I think identifying with characters is the most important thing in a story--without it, nothing else matters.

Sarah said...

I'm a fan of Will Smith too, although I haven't seen Hancock yet. I'm also a fan of James McAvoy who is in Wanted, but I haven't seen that one either. Maybe I should get out more?

Speaking of James McAvoy, the movie Becoming Jane has become one of my favorite movies and the sacrifice at the end definitely resonated with me.

I still haven't come up with one that fell flat. Gimme time...

Jessica said...

Hi Sarah. I know. Actually, her sacrifice depressed me but I knew it was what she felt she had to do. So it was consistent with her characterization.
Laura, I agree with you totally.

Irritable Mother said...

"I expected to like it. I kept hopping to really love it. Didn't happen." LOL
I have seen a movie or two like that. A bit disappointing, isn't it?

Jessica said...

Hi "irritable mother" lol!,
With the cast of actors, it should have been awesome. From a writer's point of view, I'm wondering if it didn't delve deep enough into the characters. You can't connect to people who don't seem like people.
Just my thoughts, though.

Chatty Kelly said...

Have you ever seen Bridges of Madison County. When the Meryl Strep's character stayed with her family instead of following the love her life - oh wow, I was sobbing. Loved that movie.

Good luck on your book.

Jessica said...

No, I've never seen that movie, though I've heard tons of it.
She stayed with her family? Honorable. I think I must be a little dishonorable because it would be really hard to choose my family or my love.
:-)
Thanks for stopping by Kelly.