What are "The Eight Basic Stories" behind all of film

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Stephen_L, Jun 26, 2006.

  1. Stephen_L

    Stephen_L Supporting Actor

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    It has become cliche that all of storytelling is just the retelling of a few basic tales. (It was raised in a thread about Hollywood remakes) What are those tales? With a few moments thought I came up with:

    The fish out of water (mostly comedies, but also dramas): Place character in comically or dangerously unsuitable situation and watch them adapt.

    The hero's journey (most superhero films and adventures): The evolution and journey of a young hero from callow youth to mature hero.

    The thwarted romance (most romances, romantic comedies, and buddy pictures): A loves B, but is thwarted by obstacles that must be surmounted.

    Revenge (Many horror movies, martial arts pics): The hero is wronged and spends the story exacting justice on his oppressors.

    Redemption (Many high end dramas, Best Picture fodder): The fallen hero having abandoned his ideals or loses greatness, finds them again and is restored to greatness.

    The journey home (Many children's films): Characters are placed in a distant, foreign, dangerous place and must find their way home.

    Is there a real list of these plots? What are some others.
     
  2. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    I would say triumph against overwhelming odds would be one. However that description might be too general as the other basic stories mentioned may contain that element. For that category, I bascially had Sports movies in mind, or films where a character has to overcome some kind of handicap in order to succeed.
     
  3. Nick-R

    Nick-R Agent

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    I'll break things down even broader. I'd say there are bascially 4 types of movies - each type touches on a simple character trait:

    Coming of Age - Maturity
    Revenge - Toughness
    Grand Journey - Perseverence
    Fish Out of Water - Humility

    I'd say you could get rid of romance all together. Characters typically endure/achieve a mix of the four types in their attempt to "aquire" love.

    Mix/match any of these 4 and I'd say you can describe any movie. Of course I cheated, they are awfully broad categories.
     
  4. Richard_D_Ramirez

    Richard_D_Ramirez Second Unit

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    Isn't this just the basic plot elements in all stories (not just movies) discussed in high school english classes? I seem to recall discussing this in my english class some 20 years ago.

    Some I remember:
    Man vs. nature
    Man vs. man
    Man vs. self
    Man vs. God/religion

    I especially remember heated discussions in class on whether Old Man and the Sea (and we got to see the Spencer Tracy film in addition to reading the book) was a story about Man vs Nature, Man vs. Self, or Man vs. God....
     
  5. Stephen_L

    Stephen_L Supporting Actor

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    One addition I'd make:

    The Quest (most sports movies, war movies): Hero, or team of heroes attempt a dangerous quest to achieve a goal or prize
     
  6. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    Try Googling for seven, not eight.
     
  7. Nathan V

    Nathan V Supporting Actor

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    There are only three.

    1. Romantic comedy
    2. Revenge
    3. Giant gorilla

    In all seriousness, I think Richard's "Man vs." set is pretty all-encompassing.

    Regards,
    Nathan
     
  8. Chris Atkins

    Chris Atkins Producer

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    Stephen:

    I would say that pretty much all stories fall broadly under your "redemption" arc; a character has a problem which can only be solved through action (often aided or taken by others) which help solve the problem and/or restore our character to an ideal state.
     

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