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Brendan_M_Burns
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Re: movies-mythology

Daniel notes that Superman was created in 1932, smack-dab in the middle of the Great Depression, and just prior to the rise of Hitler (1933) and the outbreak of World War II.

I've long suspected that cyclic rises in the interest towards mythology (contemporary or ancient) are linked to declines in spiritual and religious values. By which I mean, in this case, that 1932 was a bad time for many people, and so it makes sense that a "Superman" who was near invincible (save for that blasted Kryptonite!) would catch on with the general populace. Note also the fortuitous timing of the comic Superman vs. Hitler's twisted "Aryan Superman".

Anyhow, my theory (hardly original!) is that people have an inborn need to believe in something larger than themselves. When that role isn't filled by God, or when they have a hard time believing in a God who is allowing them to suffer, mythology tends to sate the need. (Which is why most of the MTV generation can't recite the catechism but know the Marvel roster backwards and forwards.)

G.K. Chesterton put it succinctly: "When people cease to believe in God, they do not believe in nothing; they begin to believe in everything."
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crAZRick
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Re: movies-mythology

uh oh...
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
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danielnoah
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Re: movies-mythology

[ Edited ]
Choisya:

Forgive me for not replying sooner. You gave me a lot to chew on and I wanted to take my time formulating a response. First off, I have great respect for your point of view, so much so that I hesitate to debate you on its points out of simple deference to the intelligence with which you express them. However, while I agree with some of your assertions, others I cannot. In short, I am arguing for a more inclusive definition of myth.

I sense in your posts a general reluctance to give credence to any cultural movement that is technologically-based. Please correct me if I am wrong on this point, as I am jumping to conclusions. But for me it's in the statement, "...I do not find a Google search of the internet as evidence of myth Daniel. The number of entries also reflect the preponderance of computers in the Western world. They are merely evidence of the money being spent to create the myth." Spoken, it seems, as though it were a given that if an idea is deliberately propagated via a technological platform, its preponderance is somehow suspect. But consider how many ideas (i.e. products, and what is an idea but a product, and what is an product but an idea) have been foisted upon the public via these platforms which have utterly failed to connect, from failed movies to television shows, to religious and political movements. A bad idea simply doesn’t connect, regardless of the money that is behind it. A good idea does – also regardless. Though with the advent of technology – from the Internet to television and film – a good idea spreads a hell of a lot faster than it used to.

I do not for a moment disagree with you that an individual’s awe of a deity tends to be vastly more powerful than the awe of a fictional character. But what they have in common is that they are stories. And whether one believes these stories to be true in a literal sense, or simply appreciates them as stories is, in some ways, immaterial. Some Christians believe that Jesus was the son of God. Others believe he was simply a very wise man whose teachings have survived through the ages. Others believe he never existed, but that the idea of Jesus is one that a life can be modeled after.

The imaginary Muslim child whose future we are speculating upon will indeed probably forget about Superman and dedicate his heart to Mohammed. But this is because of the world in which he lives, what he is taught, what he is exposed to and what is kept hidden from him. Were this child and his family to immigrate to America, where not only Superman dolls but also comic books and television shows and movies and DVDs are readily available, he might just grow up to be a comic book artist. Or a screenwriter.

And that is my ultimate point. There are millions and millions of people for whom the movie theater is a kind of holy place. Instead of hearing the story of Jesus, or Mohammed, or Vishnu, they go to see the story of Superman, or James Bond, or Effie White. These characters can have profound effects on people’s lives, inspire them as much as the stories of deities. And certainly more than the story of Gilgamesh, which, I’m sorry to tell you, is all but forgotten except amongst academics.

In truth, I agree with most everything you’ve said. I simply don’t accept your premise that the new myths (yes, I’m calling them myths) are inherently inferior to the myths of old by virtue of being new – or by virtue of the manner in which they are passed down. As for the question of whether or not one will grow up with a burning desire to pass along the story of Superman versus the story of a great grandparent’s heroism – they are not mutually exclusive. I can tell you, as one whose happiest memories from early childhood are of being read to from books, shown films and played records by my very loving grandfather, that when I think about what I’m most eager to share with my own children, I find myself ticking off a list of films, novels, symphonies. Oh yeah – and the amazing story of how I met my wife. So there you have it. There is room for both. Thank goodness!

Let me close by saying how truly happy I am to have you passing through, and how sincerely I hope that you will stay.

- daniel

Message Edited by danielnoah on 03-13-200711:47 PM

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Choisya
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Re: movies-mythology : Will the next Superman have three heads?

[ Edited ]
Thankyou Daniel: No, I am not reluctant to give credence to anything created by technological advancement per se, I am just very suspicious of anything generated by the American advertising industry, which pushes its own agenda and has the money to do so. I feel that they engender transient 'myths' with no real foundation so not really deserving of the word. I also think that bad ideas do connect - I personally feel that the industry behind Barbie Dolls, for instance, has indeed 'connected', to such an extent that every girl and her mother are now wearing pink and going around in provocative clothing etc etc., which IMO is something we should suspect and not embrace.

You say that stories like the epic of Gilgamesh are forgotten but my point (and Jung's) is that they can't be because they are deeply embedded in our psyche, along with stories from all the various cultures and it is these ideas which will ultimately pervade not Superman or Barbie. Superman is only there because of those stories - he wasn't created out of thin air. To this extent I will agree to your idea of his temporary 'inclusion' in the Western pantheon of strong man myths because he comes from an ancient tradition. (I do not know who Effie White is so that myth hasn't reached the UK yet - my 16 year old grand-daughter says she 'thinks' she is an American singer:smileyhappy:)

Your argument about Muslim children flies in the face of the fact that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world and one which turns its back on Western culture and values, nor do you address the question of what will happen within the next ten years or so when 'Chindian' culture begins to pervade the Western World. For instance, the Chinese venerate wisdom more than strength so will the next 'superperson' myth be a wise man, not a strong one? Hindu polytheism embraces a combination of 'heroes' so will their contribution lead to a 'trinity' of supermen or even one with three heads?:smileysurprised: I feel that you are being very America-centric and not taking on board what is happening in the rest of the world. Many outside America see very different trends emerging and a decline in Western economic and cultural dominance. IMO when the American advertising industry has to look at the culture and tastes of the East, the transient 'myth' of Superman will wane and be supplanted. We also have to take into account the fact that recent American foreign policy has had significant affect on how American culture is now judged in the rest of the world.

http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9704/14/egypt.islam/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/02/25/do2501.xml

I just feel there is a need for us in the West to think 'outside of the box' about these matters and not just take for granted that American or Western culture, comic book or otherwise, will prevail.

However, this is such a wide ranging subject that I really do not want to argue it here. Not only am I not American but I am an atheist to the left of the political spectrum, so what I feel about these things is likely to be too controversial for these boards and, moreover, very 'off topic' when it comes to the question of screenwriting. My only comment to screenwriters would be to Look East Young Men!




danielnoah wrote:
Choisya:

Forgive me for not replying sooner. You gave me a lot to chew on and I wanted to take my time formulating a response. First off, I have great respect for your point of view, so much so that I hesitate to debate you on its points out of simple deference to the intelligence with which you express them. However, while I agree with some of your assertions, others I cannot. In short, I am arguing for a more inclusive definition of myth.

I sense in your posts a general reluctance to give credence to any cultural movement that is technologically-based. Please correct me if I am wrong on this point, as I am jumping to conclusions. But for me it's in the statement, "...I do not find a Google search of the internet as evidence of myth Daniel. The number of entries also reflect the preponderance of computers in the Western world. They are merely evidence of the money being spent to create the myth." Spoken, it seems, as though it were a given that if an idea is deliberately propagated via a technological platform, its preponderance is somehow suspect. But consider how many ideas (i.e. products, and what is an idea but a product, and what is an product but an idea) have been foisted upon the public via these platforms which have utterly failed to connect, from failed movies to television shows, to religious and political movements. A bad idea simply doesn’t connect, regardless of the money that is behind it. A good idea does – also regardless. Though with the advent of technology – from the Internet to television and film – a good idea spreads a hell of a lot faster than it used to.

I do not for a moment disagree with you that an individual’s awe of a deity tends to be vastly more powerful than the awe of a fictional character. But what they have in common is that they are stories. And whether one believes these stories to be true in a literal sense, or simply appreciates them as stories is, in some ways, immaterial. Some Christians believe that Jesus was the son of God. Others believe he was simply a very wise man whose teachings have survived through the ages. Others believe he never existed, but that the idea of Jesus is one that a life can be modeled after.

The imaginary Muslim child whose future we are speculating upon will indeed probably forget about Superman and dedicate his heart to Mohammed. But this is because of the world in which he lives, what he is taught, what he is exposed to and what is kept hidden from him. Were this child and his family to immigrate to America, where not only Superman dolls but also comic books and television shows and movies and DVDs are readily available, he might just grow up to be a comic book artist. Or a screenwriter.

And that is my ultimate point. There are millions and millions of people for whom the movie theater is a kind of holy place. Instead of hearing the story of Jesus, or Mohammed, or Vishnu, they go to see the story of Superman, or James Bond, or Effie White. These characters can have profound effects on people’s lives, inspire them as much as the stories of deities. And certainly more than the story of Gilgamesh, which, I’m sorry to tell you, is all but forgotten except amongst academics.

In truth, I agree with most everything you’ve said. I simply don’t accept your premise that the new myths (yes, I’m calling them myths) are inherently inferior to the myths of old by virtue of being new – or by virtue of the manner in which they are passed down. As for the question of whether or not one will grow up with a burning desire to pass along the story of Superman versus the story of a great grandparent’s heroism – they are not mutually exclusive. I can tell you, as one whose happiest memories from early childhood are of being read to from books, shown films and played records by my very loving grandfather, that when I think about what I’m most eager to share with my own children, I find myself ticking off a list of films, novels, symphonies. Oh yeah – and the amazing story of how I met my wife. So there you have it. There is room for both. Thank goodness!

Let me close by saying how truly happy I am to have you passing through, and how sincerely I hope that you will stay.

- daniel

Message Edited by danielnoah on 03-13-200711:47 PM



Message Edited by Choisya on 03-14-200708:23 AM

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danielnoah
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Re: movies-mythology : Will the next Superman have three heads?

Hello again. I concede to your point that I'm being America-centric. I also concede that all modern myths can be traced back to earlier paradigms (Superman to Gilgamesh, etc.). But I am holding fast to my assertion that contemporary, popular cinema - which this group is a study of, America-centric, ephemeral and derivative as it may be - are modern myths to today's film audience. You are, of course, not required to agree with this as a total reality. But it's the reality of filmgoers, and that's who a screenwriter thinks about when she works. So on that note, let's steer this conversation back to the subject at hand, the craft of screenwriting.

Thanks,
daniel
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Brendan_M_Burns
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Re: movies-mythology : Will the next Superman have three heads?


danielnoah wrote:
Hello again. I concede to your point that I'm being America-centric. I also concede that all modern myths can be traced back to earlier paradigms (Superman to Gilgamesh, etc.). But I am holding fast to my assertion that contemporary, popular cinema - which this group is a study of, America-centric, ephemeral and derivative as it may be - are modern myths to today's film audience. You are, of course, not required to agree with this as a total reality. But it's the reality of filmgoers, and that's who a screenwriter thinks about when she works. So on that note, let's steer this conversation back to the subject at hand, the craft of screenwriting.

Thanks,
daniel



Daniel,

That also touches on another screenwriting problem/challenge -- namely, that there's nothing truly 'new' about ANY subject that hasn't been done (and sometimes done to death). In a sense, the screenwriter is always reworking previously used themes, characters, and plots, whether or not he is aware of it. For this reason, it's *imperative* that screenwriters know the history and mythology of cinema, their country, and human society in general.

Shakespeare didn't have one original premise -- each of his plays is based on historical or mythical sources (sometimes on other author's plays) -- and yet he crafted his end products into something approaching literary and theatrical perfection. My point is not to veer off on a discussion about Shakespeare. My point is that Shakespeare knew his history and his mythology, and had special insight as to how they applied to the human heart and spirit. That is why he is remembered and his plays are still performed (and endlessly mimicked) nearly 400 years after his death.
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crAZRick
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Re: movies-mythology : Will the next Superman have three heads?

Uh oh...
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
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danielnoah
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Re: movies-mythology : Will the next Superman have three heads?

Excellent point, Brendan. As a professional one must certainly have an intimate knowledge of the history of his field. The public, however, is rarely aware of the lineage. A crude example: how many kids do you think knew the Ray Charles song that was the melodic spine of the hit Kanye West single, "Gold Digger?" Not many, I'd suppose.

About there being nothing new, that is indeed a popular theory. I've often heard it said that at this point in time there are two choices: do something old in a new way, or something new in an old way.

Which one is your style?
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crAZRick
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Re: movies-mythology : Will the next Superman have three heads?

I just write, let people make up their own judgments about what I write, and get praised or punished for it later...

I don't stop to think if an idea has been done before, done to death, or if whatever I create will be considered contemporary or mythology, or become part of the contemporary mythology that movies have become these days

don't think it's ever a conscious choice to take something old and make it new, or make something new with ancient and/or mythic overtones or undercurrents...

I think it's 65% where ever my Muse takes me at the moment I settle in to write, 15% educated mythology, 15% educated guesswork, and 5% luck and talent whenever anything tangible comes together for me

individual mileage may vary, of course, just my humble opinion of my own particular talent (or lack thereof); not, of course, indicative of the norm, and certainly no presumption as to how anyone else throws a good yarn together.

I write what I know, make up the rest; I'm sure there are those who research painstakingly for years before taking to the page and writing it all down; maybe some day, I'll give that a whirl, see what comes of it.

then, if and when it's all said and done and on the page, look back and try to package it, to make your pitch, at which time the work becomes Die Hard in a nudist colony, or Thelma & Louise starring a chimp and an alien, or Sideways, but Jack is Jackee' and is a militant transvestite Jehovah's witness and door-to-door tube sock salesman, and Miles is about to become Mildred, Jackee's pre-op S&M bondage buddy

these ideas and many more are probably the reason I am not professional screenplay writer!??! :smileyvery-happy:
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
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Brendan_M_Burns
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Re: movies-mythology : Will the next Superman have three heads?


danielnoah wrote:
I've often heard it said that at this point in time there are two choices: do something old in a new way, or something new in an old way.

Which one is your style?

I definitely fall into the "do-something-old-in-a-new-way" camp. I tend to like Shakespearean adaptations as diverse as Clueless, Strange Brew, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Ran, although some others have left me cold (I hated Margaret Atwood's version of Lear; the title escapes me right now).

The whole point of those movies is that nothing important in Shakespeare has to do with the English Renaissance. Everything important is rooted in human experience from the beginning of time. The details change but the underlying themes -- love, lust, heroism, jealousy, the perils of dishonesty, honor, patriotism, familial discord -- do not change because human nature doesn't change.
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danielnoah
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Re: movies-mythology : Will the next Superman have three heads?

Wait... Strange Brew was a Shakespeare adaptation??? Or did you just throw that in to see if I was really paying attention?
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Brendan_M_Burns
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Re: movies-mythology : Will the next Superman have three heads?

You mean our great and fearless Moderator didn't get the Hamlet references throughout? The Elsinore Brewery, etc.? If not, you definitely need to rent that one again -- you'll see it in an entirely new light.
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crAZRick
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Re: movies-mythology : Will the next Superman have three heads?



Brendan_M_Burns wrote:

danielnoah wrote:
The whole point of those movies is that nothing important in Shakespeare has to do with the English Renaissance. Everything important is rooted in human experience from the beginning of time. The details change but the underlying themes -- love, lust, heroism, jealousy, the perils of dishonesty, honor, patriotism, familial discord -- do not change because human nature doesn't change.




hmmmm... so, you're saying you like and appreciate the mythical and epic works of Shakespeare, translated into modern day works upon the big screen, to be enjoyed by new generations in a whole new way, rather than learning to read and comprehend that stuffy Shakespearean language (what's it called Way Old English or something??) or see perfectly masculine men on a stage dancing around in tights?!? even if some of the epic and mythical nature of the work suffers in it's updated translation and, shall we say dreaded 'Americanization' (or bastardization, perhaps??)

hmmmm... interesting...



there must be a term that describes this sort of thing somewhere...

what could it be?? grrr.. if only it was written down somewhere, for me to remember...

Movies are the contemporary mythology...

ah yes, that's it, right in front of me all along!
:smileyvery-happy:
Cheerios, old chap! (or something...)
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
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Brendan_M_Burns
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Re: movies-mythology : Will the next Superman have three heads?


crAZRick wrote:
I don't stop to think if an idea has been done before, done to death, or if whatever I create will be considered contemporary or mythology, or become part of the contemporary mythology that movies have become these days
If you were the only screenwriter on a desert island, you could be sure that your vision was the only one affecting your captive audience. In the real world, however, your vision is being filtered through millions of eyes and brains that have already been affected by other popular influences. That doesn't have to 'sway' you, but you certainly have to take it into account, lest your vision be honestly but completely misinterpreted.

I'll provide a strange but accurate analogy -- suppose your screenplay is being produced and you're on set for the first day of shooting. The actors come on set, and the lead actor is a dead ringer for President George W. Bush. He's playing a professional bowler. Should you just shrug and say, "Aw, no one will notice the resemblance"? No, because the important story that you were trying to tell through your screenplay will quickly become a joke -- "that movie where that bowler looked just like President Bush." Or maybe you could run a disclaimer during the opening credits -- "The bowler is not to be misinterpreted as President Bush." Sure, that'll work.

The point is that cultural influences play off of and affect one another all the time. It's only by knowing and acknowledging the tide of the time that you can craft your vision accurately.

Just one man's opinion, though (and no screenplays, at that).
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crAZRick
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Re: movies-mythology : Will the next Superman have three heads?

right right Brendan.. once I/we start writing for the masses on a regular basis, I'm sure I/we will do all the tweaking I/we can to get the most bang for my/our buck (or for the bucks being paid me/us for whatever bang I/we bring)

what I mean is that, at present, since I'm not under the gun, under the thumb of a major studio, or under the microscope of public opinion (the 5 or 6 of you, my faithful followers here not withstanding, of course), I am free to write whatever I wish, however I wish to craft it; if I want to write a scene-for-scene remake of some Shakespearean epic, but set in that bowling alley of yours, I may. If I want my Thelma & Louise, but starring a chimp and an alien, I may do that; if I want a version of Superman 3 to mean 3-headed Superman, I can go for that too!

I don't think I aim for making something old new again, or making something new, but with hints of old news sprinkled in... I just write what I write as I want to write it, or as my muse directs me, not putting all that thought and spin and mythology into my methodology, not consciously any way... of course, I have my influences, which surely play out in whatever I compose. I just don't do it so deliberately, that I can tell.

Except sometimes, of course, when what I say or do or write is very deliberate; which I rarely get away with any way, so best to just let my fingers do the walking or shut up, shut down, and crawl in a hole and die (which I've been asked not-as-nicely to do more than once... ahhh, married life... :smileyhappy: 'twas fun, while it lasted, like writing a great screenplay!)

any way, maybe, as usual, my point was lost amidst my ramble?
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
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Brendan_M_Burns
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Re: movies-mythology : Will the next Superman have three heads?

crAZRick,

Point well taken. And also agreed that currently, with the exception of Daniel, all of us on this board are free to do whatsoever we choose, with the explicit understanding that no studio/director/agent is tapping their foot impatiently, waiting for our latest masterpiece.

I just don't think you're giving enough credit or recognition to the forces that affect your 'inner muse.' Like you, I would rebel at the thought of my creative writing being driven by market research, but it's actually a lot more subtle than that.

Think about your dreams at night. I don't know anyone who consciously controls their dreams. Instead, more often than not, we wake up saying "What the @#$% was that?" But nothing comes out without going in first. At least for me, every dream can ultimately be traced back to an event, image, or idea that first entered my conscious mind before being parsed into a subconscious event.

Yes, we may write what we choose, but we may only legitimately choose what we know, and that is shaped almost entirely by our personality, our upbringing, our talents, and our social strata. In truth, we're a lot less free than we imagine.
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crAZRick
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Re: movies-mythology : Will the next Superman have three heads?

now you're getting all Matrix-y on me

Follow the White Rabbit, Neo...

:smileywink:
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
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danielnoah
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Re: movies-mythology : Will the next Superman have three heads?

I guess I missed all that when I was nine.
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Choisya
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Re: movies-mythology : Will the next Superman have three heads?

Thanks Daniel - I probably don't go to see enough films. I am more of a theatre buff than a film buff.:smileyhappy:




danielnoah wrote:
Hello again. I concede to your point that I'm being America-centric. I also concede that all modern myths can be traced back to earlier paradigms (Superman to Gilgamesh, etc.). But I am holding fast to my assertion that contemporary, popular cinema - which this group is a study of, America-centric, ephemeral and derivative as it may be - are modern myths to today's film audience. You are, of course, not required to agree with this as a total reality. But it's the reality of filmgoers, and that's who a screenwriter thinks about when she works. So on that note, let's steer this conversation back to the subject at hand, the craft of screenwriting.

Thanks,
daniel


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Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: movies-mythology : Will the next Superman have three heads?

In a sense, the screenwriter is always reworking previously used themes, characters, and plots, whether or not he is aware of it.

I agree Brendan. This is what Jung meant by the 'collective unconscious'.




Brendan_M_Burns wrote:

danielnoah wrote:
Hello again. I concede to your point that I'm being America-centric. I also concede that all modern myths can be traced back to earlier paradigms (Superman to Gilgamesh, etc.). But I am holding fast to my assertion that contemporary, popular cinema - which this group is a study of, America-centric, ephemeral and derivative as it may be - are modern myths to today's film audience. You are, of course, not required to agree with this as a total reality. But it's the reality of filmgoers, and that's who a screenwriter thinks about when she works. So on that note, let's steer this conversation back to the subject at hand, the craft of screenwriting.

Thanks,
daniel



Daniel,

That also touches on another screenwriting problem/challenge -- namely, that there's nothing truly 'new' about ANY subject that hasn't been done (and sometimes done to death). In a sense, the screenwriter is always reworking previously used themes, characters, and plots, whether or not he is aware of it. For this reason, it's *imperative* that screenwriters know the history and mythology of cinema, their country, and human society in general.

Shakespeare didn't have one original premise -- each of his plays is based on historical or mythical sources (sometimes on other author's plays) -- and yet he crafted his end products into something approaching literary and theatrical perfection. My point is not to veer off on a discussion about Shakespeare. My point is that Shakespeare knew his history and his mythology, and had special insight as to how they applied to the human heart and spirit. That is why he is remembered and his plays are still performed (and endlessly mimicked) nearly 400 years after his death.


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