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QUESTION

In the last close reading of a scene from a movie you were asked to consider films that explore character development. Such works tend to be more brooding and contemplative than those from the action

In the last close reading of a scene from a movie you were asked to consider films that explore character development. Such works tend to be more brooding and contemplative than those from the action and comedy genres. They invariably constitute some variation of the "Dude with a Problem" format discussed in the second chapter of Blake Snyder's book on Hollywood scripts Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need (available in the online course materials for review, if needed). Any outward journey undertaken by the protagonist in such films tends to be mirrored by an interior one. Growth manifests in either subtle or dramatic forms.

Disability, whatever its exact expression, certainly poses challenges. It is a "problem" in that it complicates barriers that able-bodied individuals do not face, not, at least, unless they themselves become injured, infirm, and/or old.

But sometimes the problem isn't so much the disability as the social, physical, attitudinal, and economic environment in which persons with disabilities find themselves trapped. It isn't, for instance, the wheelchair operator's fault that the restaurant entrance has a step and no ramp. It isn't the blind student's fault that none of the elevator buttons have braille patterns next to them or that paper money of varying denominations doesn't come in different sizes. It isn't their fault that if they become gainfully employed that social security (in this country) will take away benefits necessary to their survival. At such moments, wherein lies the disability? In the individual? Or in the rest of us, oblivious to the myriad ways in which we daily block and deny accessibility? 

The problem of disability is even more pronounced in the impoverished nations of the so-called Third World. Oftentimes, it is made central to a character's story. Less often, it is peripheral. Either way, focus on the growth (or lack thereof) of the protagonists in two of the films below.

  • The Color of Paradise / Rang-e khoda (Iran, 1998)
  • *The Girl Who Sold the Sun / La petite vendeuse de soleil (Senegal, 1999)
  • *The Intouchables / Intouchables (France, 2013)
  • *Margarita, with a Straw (India, 2015)
  • *Oasis / Oasiseu (South Korea, 2002) 

Assignment: Introduce the main character(s). Describe the problem(s). Summarize the plot. Do close readings of a scene from each--no more than three-to-five minutes long--that you consider pivotal to the outcome of the movie and/or your response to it. What effect or impact on the audience is intended? Why do you think so? What techniques are deployed towards that end? In what ways are the narrative arcs and treatment of disability in these disparate works similar, and in what ways, different? Which, in the final analysis, did you find more compelling, if either, and why? Or why were they both equally powerful in their own way?

(For more on narrative arcs, consisting of three parts, namely, (1) problem, (2) complication, and (3) resolution, go to the chapter excerpt from Andrew Glassner's Interactive Storytelling: Techniques for 21st Century Fiction immediately following this assignment.) 

Concision is key to your success. Make every word count. Your introduction, description, and summaries need not total more than 150 words apiece (300 words for both). Your close readings ought likewise to be 150 words apiece (again, 300 words). Finally, the comparison and contrast section should come to another 150 words. (This break-down is approximate.) Altogether, your post should be about 750 words long

Copy and paste the writing prompt above into a word-processed document for easy reference. Work offline. When you are finished, click "reply," and then copy and paste your work into the field (box) that opens. 

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