Chronicles of Old Men

Watched two movies yesterday: No Country for Old Men and Prince Caspian. Ah, the advantages of being sick for a day. No Country came first, and it was a case of me having slightly different expectations than what I actually got. I was expecting something a little more main stream, and I got something a little more artsy. Basically the difference between being spoon fed information and having to work to figure things out on your own. I really enjoyed the film–fantastic acting, and really meaty material. It makes me want to read McCarthy’s book and see how the adaptation worked. I think I’ll have to do that, when I get the chance. In any case, the film was brutal, and not exactly uplifting, but it had an interesting theme and captivating plot. Three and a half stars.

Caspian was a bit of a let down, really. I’d heard it was a bit better than Wardrobe, but I found it a bit worse. The focus was taken away from the characters and forced onto the action scenes, like it was trying to be Return of the King and just not quite getting there. Don’t get me wrong–I enjoyed the movie. Great action scenes, and fantastic fantasy. But it didn’t have the wonder of the first movie going for it, and it didn’t have me caring about the characters. Three stars.

These two movies made me think more about characterization, though. What is it about a character that makes us root for him or her, even if we’ve only known them for a short time? Take Caspian, for instance. I never managed to get behind him as a character in the film. He didn’t do anything really annoying, and he definitely did some heroic things, but in the end, I didn’t really care. He was kind of bratty at times, argued with Peter too much, and . . . just failed to connect with me. On the other hand, Llewellyn in No Country is a character who comes across two million in cash, takes it and then tries to run away from a killer for the rest of the movie. And yet I was rooting for him almost from the beginning. Why? Well, for one thing, the introduction to him was well done. He’s hunting, and he misses. You can tell he’s competent, though. He’s methodical, and he thinks things through. So he’s not stupid. But all of that wouldn’t have gotten me behind him. He comes across a mass murder scene (where the money is), and finds one last man alive–the man asks for water, but Llewellyn doesn’t have any and tells him so. Then he takes the money and leaves the wounded man in the desert. What gets me behind him is that later that night, he’s still thinking of the man, and he ends up filling a jug with water and taking it to him. So right from the beginning, I see him as a competent man who’s not above taking a large sum of money he’s not necessarily owed, but also a person who is willing to risk himself for others. And that’s enough to get me rooting for him. It helps that the villain is as evil as can be–so anything in comparison is better–but without that taking-water-to-the-thirsty-man, I don’t think I would have liked Llewellyn as much.

So what do I learn? Make your characters competent and sympathetic. Pure heroism isn’t enough.

In other news, TRC is at work with me today. We’re going to see Bolt soon, but I think he’s having a good day, all told. It was his idea. Go figure. 🙂

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