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The 7 plots of films!

Discussion in 'Movie Forum' started by PoochJD, May 29, 2001.

  1. PoochJD

    PoochJD
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    Hi

    Did you all know that there are in fact only 7 plots, for every single film, book and comic that exists. Every product will fit into one of these 7 categories, or will be a combination of them.

    The 7 plots are:-

    1) ACHILLES - The flawless (or almost flawless) person, e.g. Superman.

    2) CINDERELLA - The dream come true (e.g Dirty Dancing, Prerry Woman.)

    3) CIRCE - The chase, e.g The Blues Brothers.

    4) FAUST - Selling your soul to the Devil may bring riches, but eventually, you will belong to him, e.g. Wall Street

    5) ORPHEUS - The loss of something personal, e.g. Regarding Henry, Farscape (think about John Crichton!)

    6) ROMEO & JULIET - The love story, e.g. Sleepless In Seattle.

    7) TRISTAN - X loves Y, but one or both are already spoken for, e.g. Fatal Attraction.

    That's it! As I say, every single film plot, book or TV show can be fitted into one, or a combination of, these plots. Some may take a bit of thought, but they do fit. For those who can't do this or simply don't want to, I'll show you an example:-

    First Wave (US Sci-Fi TV series): Basic story is Cade Foster discovers the existance of extra-terrestrial life-forms on Earth, and after his wife is murdered, he meets and teams-up with Crazy Eddie, et al, to save the world from the coming of the next "Waves" of aliens. The plots of Achilles, Circe, Faust and Orpheus all fit this, and here's why.

    Cade is almost flawless. Yes, he is a normal, everyday human being, but he is able to understand Nostradamus' theories, along with help from Eddie. This is Achilles.

    Cade, Eddie and co, are constantly being chased by the aliens, so that he doesn't save Earth, and give away the aliens secret-existance to other people. This is Circe.

    Cade had to give-up his normal life, as a security expert/ex-criminal, to save the world. He also lost his wife. He has also lost his own sanity, privacy and independance, because of the task he has to complete. This is Faust.

    In the Pilot episode, of Season 1, Cade's life was taken from him, as was the only woman he had ever loved. This is Orpheus.

    See what I mean?


    So, if anyone says that X is a totally original plot, you can tell them that that's complete bunkum, and then go on to tell them why.

    Hope you all find that of interest.

    Pooch
     
  2. Ars longa, vita brevis

    Ars longa, vita brevis
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    i belive my english teacher said something of that ilk, but could not rememember all of the genres.

    its a bit...pessemistic
    would you not say
    and perhaps vague
     
  3. Black 5

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    Pooch,

    Are you setting a challenge here? :) A couple of your points are a bit tenuous.

    Where does Apollo 13 fit in?
     
  4. Ars longa, vita brevis

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  5. PoochJD

    PoochJD
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    Black 5,

    No, not a challenge, per se, though this topic has been openly debated on many occasions. However, the general consensus is that it is only 7 plots that can really be true, individual definitions.

    You mentioned that: "A couple of your points are a bit tenuous." Which ones? And which ones are pessimistic?

    Apollo 13 - that's a doddle, that is! It's a combination of:-

    Circe - the chase/or race to get to the Moon.

    Cinderella - the dream coming true, by the simple fact that they get their, and survive the "Houston, we have a problem!" scenario they get into.

    Achilles - Tom Hank's character appears to be flawless, and is a great morale-booster for the crew who depend on him when things go wrong.

    Romeo And Juliet - the love between each of the astronauts and their respective partners/wives/families.

    I hope that answers the question.

    Anyone else want to submit a film, and either a) a breakdown of what plots they think it falls into and/or b) challenge me to break it down for them - within reason. (I can't guarantee I'll have seen all of the films you people will throw at me, but I'll certainly give it a try. In return, maybe you can vote for my Star Rating to be increased to at least 3 stars, instead of the current 2?! What about it?!)

    Pooch

    [ 30-05-2001: Message edited by: PoochJD ]
     
  6. BadAss

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    I aint even going to mention the 5th Element. Doh!!! :rolleyes:
    This is one of those films that has them all and a few extra you didn't mention. ;)
     
  7. philmate

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    How about Erazer head, if you or anyone else know what this film was about then I'll give you a "~>^ job...or not.

    Philmate. :eek:
     
  8. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    Try it on 2001.(careful though)

    You've been reading Mythologies by Roland Barthes Pooch haven't you.

    The problem with using the above 7 mythologies to pattern "any" film (or any other remotely fictionalised work) is that in combination they pretty much describe every possible human entanglement/drama you can have. As most narrative films are driven by these types of emotional and identity crisis its not surprising the majority of them correspond to these mythical 7 you've outlined. Of course to test the validity of the theory you only need to realise that the initial archetypal situations you've outlined are themselves fictions and probably derived from yet earlier "lost" or usurped mythologies themselves.

    Its all post-modern at the end of the day.(although I don't like that faction either)

    Which came first chicken or the egg?
    Answer an even older egg than the one we're talking about and even then all you can say is that eggs happen in the world.

    One of the most annoying things about film theory ( most art theory in general) is that most of the arguments and theories end up in dead ends or (even worse) restate the obvious in differing ways.
    (bit like most of the film's unfortunately)
     
  9. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    Its basically Lynch trying to exorcise the negative emotions and reaction he had to his first daughter's birth: she was unexpectedly born with a club-foot or similar abnormality I believe. It really changed(shattered) his idea of how he thought the world worked.

    So the film is really trying to capture how he felt inside his own head at the time and is working more on an emotional and psychological level than a literal one.

    Certainly there's an overwhelming sense of loss about the film (as well as guilt and self-loathing: emotional breakdown basically) so I suppose at a pinch you could relate it to the orpheus myth.(although only in the sense that the two are about loss; of innocence I suppose, I'd take issue that the relationship goes any further than that though)
     
  10. BadAss

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    This is getting deep. And I mean leather couch deep. Take me to you childhood. ;)
     
  11. philmate

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    Thanks Mr D for clearing that up for me, I've watched the film sober ,****ed and high and it still seems to make no sense or is it me.....No, I will not give you a "~>^ job for trying to explain the film to the masses and myself but I may buy you an icecream, your place or mine.
    Philmate. :eek:
     
  12. PoochJD

    PoochJD
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    Dear Mr D.

    You wrote: "You've been reading Mythologies by Roland Barthes, Pooch haven't you?"

    Acually, no I haven't. I got the details from an old fact-sheet I dug out recently, which was received from an old Media Studies lecturer, who got said document from BAFTA - as in, the BAFTA awards.

    However, I have heard of Barthes, but don't like getting bogged down too much, by all these so-called theories. Most of them, aren't reliable anyway, as you rightly state.

    You also said: "The problem with using the above 7 mythologies to pattern "any" film (or any other remotely fictionalised work) is that in combination they pretty much describe every possible human entanglement/drama you can have. As most narrative films are driven by these types of emotional and identity crisis its not surprising the majority of them correspond to these mythical 7 you've outlined."

    That may be the case, but most people still think that when the latest hit film comes out that everyone falls head-over-heels in love with, they claim it's an original idea, which it isn't, nor could it be! That's all I am getting at. "Blair Witch", original? Pah! Ruggero Deodato did it nearly 20 years previously with "Cannibal Holocaust"! And even if you discount that film, it was still beaten by the 1993 film "The Last Broadcast"!

    Admittedly, the 7 plots are only basic ideas, and like all ideas, there are as many people who agree with them, as there are who will disagree with them. I guess it's a case of agreeing, to disagree. Regardless, it's still an intriguing thought, that all films, books and TV shows could, in theory, exist only as one (or more) of seven plotlines! Is there such a thing as an "original idea" any more. Who had the first "original idea" for a film or book, or whatever?!

    As for 2001, here's my quick breakdown: it's probably a mix of Cinderella, Circe, Orpheus, and Faust.

    Cinderella - the dream come true of finding other "life", out there in space, other than humanity.

    Circe - the chase of being the first to discover said "life", or the chase to outwit HAL!

    Orpheus - HAL kills one of the crew, without mercy.

    Faust - everyone thinks HAL is there to help them, and because he's a robot, can cause them no harm. Yet HAL is a cyborg: a robot that can learn, and learns that he/it needs to protect him/its self.

    The end..... well, kind of!

    Pooch
     
  13. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    Rather than turn this into a big critique of your analysis Pooch. (whatever meaning anyone can get from any film (or any cultural artifact) is valid enough in my book: thats the point)

    Don't necessarily see those things myself though with regard to 2001 as is not really a film concerned ultimately with human "drama".

    As for BAFTA they probably culled it from some article written by the BFI pinched from someone else: Take my word for it a connection to BAFTA ( or BFI) is more indicative of a bar tab at the Groucho Club than anything to do with making films. ( and they can't pull a decent pint of guinness and they'll try and charge you 3quid for the privellage)

    Mythologies by Barthes is a pretty good read though: and his mythologies are alive evolving things not something set in stone in the mists of time.
     
  14. Squirrel God

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  15. gringottsdirect

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    Homer's Odyssey from O Brother Where Art Thou back to beginning of movies, there's a tale remade many times simply changing blah, blah, blah.......
    Mulholland Drive......
     
  16. CWB

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    Actually, according to Raymond Frensham in "Teach Yourself Screenwriting", there is an eighth which you haven't mentioned.

    This is Candide - the innocent abroad, naive optimism triumphant, the hero who cannot be kept down. He cites Forrest Gump, James Bond, Chariots of Fire and Indiana Jones as examples.

    I reckon that Apollo 13 fits in this category.

    Don't mix up the basic story type with the film genre, though.
     
  17. Setenza

    Setenza
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    These seven ideas are very nebulous and therefore easy to fit to existing films IMHO although I do concede there is an element of truth.

    I cannot see any of these traits present in any of the works of Ben Dover though
     
  18. Sinzer

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    Ben Dover always employs the chase plot :p

    IMO, these classifications are always based in belief systems, as such it is very difficult to argue with them. You can create classifications for anything, making it more complex or simple as you like. It is a matter of reductionism and at which point you wish to look at the problem.

    The idea is mainly that you can reduce the numbers to 7 categories, that is fine, but you then miss out on the qualitative measures (categories tending to be quantitative). Just because something falls into an extremely broad category does not preclude it from being original.

    Besides, all stories are derived from experience, so in essence they are never original. If you lived without stimulus I severly doubt you could produce any great literary or videography piece.
     

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