Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Catholic Skywalker Dialogues PART 2 - ON DEFINING THE PARTS OF DRAMA

Catholic Skywalker: So, Rick O., we defined our central problem as this: “Is it morally acceptable for a Catholic to enjoy an immoral movie?”
Rick O.: Yes, I believe that is the case.  And we used “movie” for simplicity, to stand in the place for any audio/video art.
CS:  Very good.  So before we can answer that question, we should first identify the parts that make up a drama.
RO:   Why?
CS:  If we say something is morally bad, we must understand how it is so.  Is the mere presentation of moral badness enough to make a movie morally bad?
RO: It depends.
CS:  On what?
RO: On how it is presented.
CS:  I agree.  So before we can judge the presentation, then we must understand the parts to drama.
RO: And how shall we define it.
CS:  I think the best way is to look at Aristotle’s categories.
RO: Aristotle?  Didn’t he believe that some people should naturally be slaves.
CS:  Yes, but even though he was wrong about things like that, he was correct about many other things.  And he wrote extensively and philosophically about the nature of drama.  Of course he was writing about the theater in his day, but I believe that everything he said about theater could be applied to movies.
RO: If you say so.  So what did Aristotle say?
CS:  I think we should go to an expert.  I’ll call up my old Greek Philosophy professor: Dr. Looney.  He should be online right now.  We’ll get him up on Skype. [Catholic Skywalker logs in to Skype and calls up Dr. Looney.  He answers]
Dr. Looney: Hello, Catholic Skywalker!  Who is your friend there?
CS:  This is my good friend, Rick O.
DL:  Hello, friend of Catholic Skywalker.  What can I do for you?
CS:  We were hoping you could help us with something from the Ancient Greeks.
DL:  Of course!  Is it about Plato?  Because Plato rules!
CS:  No, it’s about Aristotle.
DL: Aristotle?  You know he said some people should naturally be slaves!
RO: I know.
CS:  Nevertheless, Aristotle analysed the parts of drama and we were hoping you could give us an explanation of his categories and how it would apply to movies today.
DL:  Gotcha.  Well, Aristotle (who I must say again is not as good as Plato), said that there are 6 parts to drama: Plot, Theme, Character, Rhythm or Music, Dialogue, and Spectacle.
CS:  Could you give us more detail on each?  And even though Aristotle was talking about theater, could you apply the information to movies?
DL:  Of course.  Plot is what happens in a movie ; the order of events, the story as opposed
to the theme. what happens rather than what it means.
RO:  What’s the difference?
DL:  Theme is what the film means as opposed to what happens; it is the main idea within the film.
CS: Could you give us an example of the difference?
RO: Of course.  The Plot of Hamlet is a young, depressed prince is told by the ghost of his murdered father that he has to avenge that murder by killing Hamlet’s murderous uncle Claudius.  But the Themes of the play go beyond the plot.  Shakespeare uses that plot to explore the concepts of life and death and madness and a slew of other things.  This is the transcendent element of the story that usually touches on something universal to the human experience.  You can even have different Themes for the same Plot.
CS:  Could you explain that?
RO: Yeah, how could that be?
DL:  Have you seen the original and remake of Clash of the Titans?
CS:  Yes.
RO:  I saw the original, but not the remake.
DL:  Well, both movies have essentially the same plot: the son of Zeus and a human woman must set out to save the princess Andromeda from the Kraken by getting the head of Medusa.  But the first one had themes of heroism and grand adventure.  But the second had a strong anti-religious theme based in the nihilist philosophy of Nietzsche.
RO:  Couldn’t you be reading into the remake a little too much?
DL:  Perhaps.  But the point is that Plot and Theme are not the same.
CS:  Thank you.  What are Aristotle’s other parts to drama?
DL:  Character.  This involves the the arc or journey of the character in the story.  This is intimately linked to plot.  In fact, Aristotle said that Plot is Character revealed by action.
CS:  Go on.
DL:  Dialogue, which could mean either the word choices of the screenwriter or the way in which the actor says the lines.
CS:  Next?
DL:  Next is Rhythm.  Aristotle originally meant by this the Rhythm and melody of the dialogue and speeches.  For movies I think it could mean 2 things: 1st, it could be the musical aspect of the film regarding how it helps the story flow.  But Rhythm could also mean editing.  Movies are built in the editing room and the edit is what determines the flow and content of a story.
RO:  Got it.  And last?
DL:  Spectacle.  This involves the visual element of the production that is meant to draw the eye and engage that senese.
CS:  And since movies are primarily visual, the Spectacle would be a large factor.
DL:  It would seems so.
CS:  Thank you Doctor Loony.  You’ve been very helpful!
DL:  Remember: Plato rules!  [disconnects from Skype]
RO: That was kind of boring.
CS:  But helpful.  We now know and basically understand the 6 elements of the art of movies.
RO:  Yes.  So now what?
CS:  Now we examine each one and see if a movie could be immoral in regards to any of the 6 elements.
RO:  Shouldn’t it be yes to all of them?
CS:  I do not know until we investigate.  Let’s do that next.


1 comment:

  1. Late to the game.

    TCM is offering an online film noir course to run concurrent with The Summer of Darkness.

    I've fallen behind, but it is still interesting.