Monday, September 16, 2019

#LOVE + #Heroes and #Villains: Unbreakable and Writing Lessons

While I may find writing romance to be terrifying, I do appreciate real, true love.
My in-laws, Mary and John (Sr) just celebrated their 61st Wedding Anniversary!
My parents will celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in October!
That's some real, true love.

Love is real.
It's amazing.
And, it's worth writing about.
My current rough draft WIP is contemporary romance. 
Current title: Once Upon a May.

I also like to write about Heroes and Villains. 
So, most of the post below is a re-hash of some old thoughts on Heroes and Villains, part of a Heroes and Villains series I'll be continuing once a month, as I revise my novel Anomalies.

As a lover of the worlds within worlds of all things Story, I have a special love of Heroes and Villains, be they “super” or just natural in their home environments of Earth, Middle Earth, Narnia, Gotham, or the MCU.
For this post, my focus is the 2000 movie Unbreakable written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
Description from IMDb: A man learns something extraordinary about himself after a devastating accident.
Description from Amazon: Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson star in a mind-shattering, suspense-filled thriller that stays with you long after the end of this riveting supernatural film. After David Dunn (Willis) emerges from a horrific train crash as the sole survivor — and without a single scratch on him — he meets a mysterious stranger (Jackson). An unsettling stranger who believes comic book heroes walk the earth. A haunting stranger, whose obsession with David will change David’s life forever.
Why this movie? 
Honestly, I watched this movie for the first time in 2018 while researching heroes. And, I came at viewing it in a backwards kind of way. I heard Shyamalan was coming out with a new film. Then, I found out it was part of a series of movies focused on super-powered individuals. The series starts with Unbreakable.
I don’t know how I missed it when it came out, but I did. I’m glad I was able to watch it, especially after watching several films in the DC and MCU. I needed something just a little different. You know that yen for something “the same but extremely different?” Unbreakable delivers.

Reasons I love Unbreakable (while trying not to spoil it):

We start with a scene in which the main character attempts to do something wrong, instead of something right. I thought this humanized our hero in a humble way. There’s a minor redemption story arc (I like those).
I loved the way the camera angles reminded us that we were with the main character but not necessarily in his head, as we watch the opening sequence from between two train seats (the view of a child), to other moments with his family, and some moments where we are just with him, focused on his silent pain of not knowing how to accept his gift, which he has ignored for most of his life.
I loved the way the main character struggles with his daily sadness and what brings him out of it. Characters who struggle internally and externally at the same time are awesome!
The main character struggles with the idea of having a gift.
The main character can’t communicate well, even with those he loves. Bruce Willis rocked this part – believe me, if you haven’t seen it, see it! It proves that not every scene needs dialogue, or at least not dialogue with words. Of course, I wondered how the script was written. How many expressions were mentioned inside parentheses and how many were based on Willis and the director working together to create great film?
Self-sacrifice is shown on a deep level.

What I learned as a writer/storyteller:

The hero needs a flaw. (Captain Obvious, I know, but sometimes I forget.)
The angle of the story does not have to be told all the time from the hero’s POV.
 Internal and external struggles must work with and against each other.
An immediate acceptance of gifts is not all that realistic for every character.
Dialogue does not need to be about spoken words. (I need to print that idea and put it on my desk.)
Self-sacrifice is not always about the hero jumping in front of a bullet. Yes, that’s heroic, but . . . there are other ways to sacrifice, especially if it’s done for love. It’s not even always healthy, especially if there’s miscommunication. (See the movie.)
There are other reasons I love this movie, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. Fasten your seat-belts for some unexpected twists.
Other posts on Heroes and Villains: Know Your Origins: It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's ...


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Love is amazing!
I need to rewatch that film. Saw it in the theaters years ago and wasn't as impressed with it as I was with The Sixth Sense.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

What an inspiration your in-laws and parents are! My husband and I recently celebrated out 20th so we still have long way to go but we'll get there! :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

Alex - Agreed! And I think the film just hit me at the right time and right place.

Madeline - Yes, they are! Happy Anniversary!

Sarah Foster said...

61 years! Hubby and I just had our 3rd last week. We've got a long way to go!

H. R. Sinclair said...

Congrats to your parents! So, you saying "write what terrifies you!" :-) I think that's pretty great you went there. Romance it HARD! said...

How lovely to read about successful marriages, and I’m definitely going to see the film 🤗

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tyrean - congratulations to both your parents ... wonderful long times together. Love is amazing ... and Romance for some, as Holly mentions, can be challenging ... it takes two to tango. Every film I watch - I look at the story now - comes of the bloggers' influence! Cheers and good luck - Hilary

Anonymous said...

Congrats to all your parents!

I don't think I have ever seen Unbreakable. I remember when it came out that it looked interesting, but I just never got around to sitting down and seeing it.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Awesome that your parents and in-laws have stayed married for so long. It's something to cherish.

I never saw Unbreakable. Maybe I could learn from it too.

Elizabeth Mueller said...

While the hero needs a flaw, the villain needs a redeeming quality! Don't forget. ;)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Congrats to your in-laws and your parents. That speaks of great stability on both sides, so you and your hubby should have it made.

I watched Unbreakable years ago and sort of, kind of remember it but nor well enough to chime in.

You'll do great with your romance- you have the role models all around you! If you ever need a beta reader, hit me up.

krystal jane said...

I’ve been curious about the series. M. Night is known for pushing boundaries in films and taking risks, which I appreciate on an artistic level. I think we can learn a lot about storytelling, and even pacing, from movies. There’s a lot of creativity involved there.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Self-sacrifice can be very unhealthy, too.

Heather R. Holden said...

Love all these writerly lessons learned. Giving heroes flaws is one of my favorite things!

And wow, that's amazing how your parents and in-laws have remained married for so long. Many congrats to them!