A Feral Tale Exclusively Describes A Book About Animals Script Analysis – Where the Wild Things Are – Archetypes and Emotional-Symbolic Screenplay Structure

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Script Analysis – Where the Wild Things Are – Archetypes and Emotional-Symbolic Screenplay Structure

Journal Analysis: Where the Wild Things Are

SPOILER NOTE: If you haven’t seen “Where the Wild Things Are,” you might want to check it out before reading this article. Let’s set aside for now the question of whether or not Where the Wild Things Are is a good movie. Let’s settle the question of whether you like it or not (or a little ashamed of your love as you do).

And if you feel like wasting your twelve bucks on a movie in which nothing happens, let’s set that aside too. Love it or hate it, Wild Things is a film worth studying, because of the bold and unique ways it develops to show its writers’ environment, both at its most amazing, and its most problematic elements.

ENVIRONMENT? WHERE?

Wild things are governed by the simple idea – or at least the strong idea – that the whole world is seen through the perspective of a boy – as he acts out his anger on his isolated life (and most importantly, his divorced parents) by playing with a bunch of stuffed animals in his room.

The writer-director team of Jonze and Eggers made the very strong (and risky) decision that nothing in the world of Wild Things would be outside of what a boy Max’s age could understand. Here’s the full story of the movie:

In the speech and actions of Wild Things (who think and dream and play and rage and even accept the impossible as children). In a plot that is limited to the events that a moderately intelligent child might expect – more interested in showing the way children play (with exaggerated simplicity, loose ends, and non-linear elements and unfeeling) than with speaking. fictional story line.

In the production design – which is much more like what a child like Max might think is “cool and magical” than what we have come to expect from the grown-up Hollywood minds who brought us films like Harry Potter or Pan’s Labyrinth. In Where the Wild Things Are, ships to magical lands show that out of nowhere, the Wild Things immediately accept the little boys as Kings, and arms torn from the sand and not blood. We are in a little boy’s world of stuffed animals, and if things seem cheesy, too easy, or just plain goofy, it’s because they’re supposed to.

Because of these choices, the experience of Where the Wild Things Go completely fulfills almost everything we have hoped for in a Hollywood movie. We are expecting magic and spectacle, and we are given only the simplest special effects. We come and expect a smooth ride, which is safe for children, and fun for adults, and instead is taken on a chaotic journey that floats along the impetuous flow of Max joy and anger. We come to expect a “well-made” film, and instead experience the collective life of a child in the game.

Line up? What plan?

Most Hollywood movies are built around simple structural rules. If a character appears at the beginning of the movie pretending to be a King, the movie isn’t over until he learns what it is to be a real King. If a character shows up at the beginning of the film in a land where many otherwise beautiful creatures are filled with anger and sadness, the film is not over until he sees their pain (and his own) and finds a way to bring it. their peace.

As you may have noticed, Wild Things is not governed by these rules. Max does not heal the Wild Things. Max never learned how to be a good King. Max doesn’t even “finish” the story. Instead, he goes unexpectedly (if he goes reluctantly) and drops his crown like a child in a restaurant.

For the most part, anything that happens is a Wild Thing. And yet, from a behavioral perspective, a lot happens. The difference is that unlike every other Hollywood film of its genre, Wild Things builds its structure not linearly and logically, but emotionally and symbolically, through the use of archetypes.

WHAT THE HECK IS ART?

Archetypes are a concept that originated in the work of psychologist Carl Jung, and were later adopted by Joseph Campbell and his followers as they sought to better understand history. You can spend years studying the different ways critics, scholars, and writers of screenplays have described and categorized archetypes.

Fortunately, you don’t have to.

Your job as a writer is not to categorize or memorize archetypes, but to understand them. And their understanding begins with this simple idea:

An archetype is a character that forms some repressed part of the psyche of your main character, and is structured in your film to force your character to face something that is forced. All movies have archetypes. Big Hollywood movies. Small independent films. Broad Comedies. Important games.

Even big dumb action movies. They all have archetypes. They have to. However, your main character won’t have to deal with the elements being forced into your brain, and won’t have to go through the story. The difference is that within Wild Things, instead of being in a traditional linear plot, these archetypes are between an emotion and a symbol.

NORMAL WORLD

One of the truly amazing things about Where the Wild Things Are is how quickly screenwriters Jonze & Eggers develop all the real-world emotional and symbolic elements that will form the framework of Max’s legendary journey. Your isolation and loneliness. Emotional and physical pain. His feelings of violence by his sister and his mother. Her feelings of abandonment as her mother and sister build relationships with new people she doesn’t like or understand. Your shame is being controlled. And most importantly, violent and destructive reactions to those feelings.

These emotional elements have symbolic counterparts: A Snowball Fight That Ends In Tears. The ruined fort. The Heart You Made For Your Sister (which is destroyed when you clean her room). And the times in which he bit his mother after seeing her with her new boyfriend.

THE FRIENDLY WORLD/SYMBOL OF THE FOREST THING

On a metaphorical level, Max’s journey through the world of Wild Things is simply a child’s mind’s attempt to make sense of its own destructive rage. Each emotional pain and symbol of the normal world has its corresponding Wild Things, creating a set of metaphorical mirrors through which Max can see himself and his world more clearly (as he comforts himself through guilt and trauma). .

The Wild Things bite, just like Max bit his mother. Wild things destroy their house, Just like Max destroys his sister’s room. Many try to connect with Wild Things by building a wall and throwing garbage clods, just as he built a snow castle and threw snowballs at his sister’s friends. The connections are simple, giving the film clarity and through the line it needs to take the audience along for the ride. But also complex, honoring the complexity of Max’s pyschology, as he navigates the complexities of his parents’ divorce and his feelings about it, by navigating his relationship with one archetypal Wild Thing after another.

CAROL: A loving, but violent father, with whom Max’s mother does not want to live with Max’s love for her, and Max’s behavior mimics hers.

KW: The perfect mother figure, who “inexplicably” no longer wants to live with Carol, and is instead enamored with “boyfriends” Bob and Terry, the owls that Max or KW can survive.

JUDITH: Her jealous and worried look – who feels like it’s Max’s job to make her feel better, just like Max wants her mother to do for her.

Even Max himself is an archetype: the quintessential Jungian “Hero”. A developing ego that wants to be the King of its own world.

In the course of the story, by connecting with his archetypes and trying to do for them what he wants to do for himself, Max develops a passion and understanding that is ready for him to return to his new life. It forces him to face who his father really is, who his mother really is, and who he really is. He is forced to face the consequences of his choices, and the terrifying idea that he may not be in control, that he cannot be King, that he may, in fact, just be “a boy, pretending to be a wolf, pretend to be. to be kings” and indeed, Kings may not exist at all.

It ends with the gift of the heart that Max has made. Not coincidentally, he looks like the one he once made for his sister, who was devastated at the beginning of the movie. Inevitably, not a darn thing happened. But figuratively, emotionally, and symbolically, Max makes a big change. You must, otherwise there will be no need to go through the story.

AUTHOR’S JOURNEY

On an archetypal level, Max’s journey mirrors the journey of every writer. We must reduce ourselves to children, allow ourselves to play, breathe life into our own archetypes through the words and actions of our characters, create parallels and symbolic comparisons for the illusions and contradictory events of the our own lives, and ultimately create an enforced system. come to unearth our own repressed emotions, and take us, and our main character, on a journey that changes us both forever.

Although your own work may not be as original as Where the Wild Things Are, if a film in which so little happens can create such a great journey for your main character, consider what these emotional, archetypal, and symbolic elements look like. can do. do it for your own work.

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