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Contextual Study Story: A Physical & Metaphorical Journey

Traditionally, the theme of plays and movies affects consistently the development of the entire story and conveys the main idea of the director or play writer to the audience. However, the theme is not absolute for the adequate perception of a film or play by the audience. As the matter of fact, the audience perceives a film or play through the action, which viewers observe and follow as the story of a film or play unfolds. In such a context, it is quite natural to presuppose that the action of a film or play is prior to its theme in terms of the perception of the film or play by the audience. In all probability, the unconscious or subconscious perception of the film or play does occur in the course of watching the film or play. However, the audience can hardly be fully overwhelmed with the action of the film or play because, as people watch a film or play, they naturally start thinking of the theme of the film or play and the message of the director or play writer. In such a way, the view on the film or play as a mere set of actions perceived by the audience is not absolutely correct but it is necessary to precise that the film and play is perceived through the action, which gives insight toward understanding of the main theme of the film or play and it is in the context of the theme the audience eventually perceives the film or play as a whole work.

On analyzing the problem of the juxtaposition and interaction between the theme of the play or film and the action of the play or film, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that both the action of the film and play and their theme are normally closely intertwined (McKee, 143). Therefore, it is through actions of the film or play their author attempts to convey his or her main message to the audience. In such a way, the audience can learn the theme of the film or play through the actions of the film or play.

At the same time, it is important to understand that the audience perceives the film and plays through their action. People watch the actions and how the events in the film or play unfold and make their own judgments and conclusions, make some guesses and have insights toward the further development of the story, and get the general impression of the entire story. In such a way, they understand the theme of the story. On the other hand, the audience can perceive actions people watch on the stage or on the screen at the subconscious level (Smiley, 193). In such a situation, their perception of the film or play may be different from what they have been expected to perceive. What is meant here is the fact that people can interpret certain actions of actors in the specific way, because they perceive the non-verbal communication at the subconscious level. People may be unaware of what they perceive in terms of the non-verbal communication through gestures, mimics, movements of actors, and so on. In this regard, the non-verbal communication may be totally different from the verbal communication. In such a situation, the risk of the split between the theme of the film or play and their action may occur (Vogler, 109). To put it more precisely, the audience perceives the theme through the verbal communication of the actors, whereas the audience can shape quite a different views on the film or play through the non-verbal communication. For instance, if the main characters of the film speak about love, as brothers in the film “The Boys” do in relation to their girlfriends and wives, than the audience can believe that the main theme of the film is love and the main characters do love each other. On the other hand, the verbal expressions of love may be accompanied by aggressive and violent actions, for instance from the part of Brett in the film “The Boys”. As a result, such violent actions can provoke quite a different response of the audience to the film and shifting the theme from the theme of love toward the theme of domestic violence, for instance. In such a way, under the impact of actions the audience can change the view on the theme of the film or play. At this point, the impact of the non-verbal communication and the subconscious perception of actions in the film or play become crucial for the perception of the film or play by the audience.

At the same time, it is worth mentioning the fact that the theme influences the audience if viewers learn it before they watch a film or play. To put it more precisely, people can learn some information about the film they are willing to watch or about the play they are going to watch, including the insight toward the main theme of the film or play. Under the impact of this information people learn before watching the film or play, they can shape certain view on the film and its main theme and perceive the actions of the film or play and the entire film or play in the context of the set theme. In such a way, the audience comes prepared to perceive the film or play in the particular framework (McKee, 158). At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that the perception of the film and play becomes very subjective, if the audience perceives the film and play on the ground of the theme they learned before watching the film or play. In such a way, people come to watch the film or play being biased and prejudiced. In such a context, it is possible to estimate that people can perceive a film or play objectively and free of biases and prejudices, only if they make their judgments on the ground of the actions they watch. In such a way, for the adequate perception of the film or play, the audience should come unaware of the main theme of the film and make any judgments only in the course of the film or play as events of the film or play unfold.

In this respect, it is possible to refer to the film “Labyrinth” and plays “The Boys” and “Savage in Limbo”, which reveal the different perception of the theme of the film and plays by the audience, depending on the actions and how they unfold in the course of the film and plays. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that the development of the story in the film and plays reveal the full extent, to which actions of the play define the perception of the theme by the audience. On the other hand, it is worth mentioning the fact that the development of the actions in the film and plays influence the perception of the film and plays but the audience shapes certain views on the film and plays and the theme the director and play writers attempted to convey to the audience (Smiley, 188). In this regard, it is possible to estimate that the actions of the film and plays help to understand the theme but they are not necessarily determinant in the perception of the entire film or plays.

At this point, it is possible to refer to the play “The Boys”. One of the main characters of the play, Brett, is the most intelligent of all brothers but they are driven by their emotions rather than by their reason. This means that the main characters of the play prefer to act before thinking carefully of consequences of their actions. Naturally, in such a context, the audience perceives them as impulsive characters and viewers can have some difficulties with the perception of the play and its main theme. At the same time, one of the main characters of the play, Brett, for instance, seems to be quite intelligent compared to other brothers and he attempts to establish normal relations with his girlfriend. However, his tendency to violence put him behind bars. In such a way, the play shows that the main characters of the play act without thinking of consequences and such actions repeat over and over again in the course of the play. In such a context, the audience naturally concludes that the main point and them of the play is the responsibility of people for the main characters should be responsible, whereas their actions, being not grounded on reason, are irresponsible. Therefore, through the actions of the main characters the main theme of the play is uncovered.

In stark contrast to “The Boys” the actions of the play “Savage in Limbo” unfolds slowly. Moreover, the main characters are inclined to inaction instead of action. Instead, the play focuses on the theme of the play and its manifestation from different angles. The main characters of the play are Denise, a frustrated 32-year-old virgin, a foxy lady, Linda, who has been just dumped by her boyfriend, and Tony, a typical Italian stud, who wants to date someone uglier to change his life somehow. All the characters want changes but they do little to change their life. Therefore, the theme dominates over action, whereas the actions are quite few. In such a context, the play “Savage in Limbo” reveals the opposite side of the relationship between the theme and actions. To put it more precisely, this play shows that actions are not always necessary to convey the theme but they can stress the main theme and the ideas the author attempted to convey to the audience. In such a way, the play helps to understand that the action of the play is not always determinant for understanding of the author’s message but the theme itself is also very important, whereas actions of the play just stress the main theme. The main characters of “Savage in Limbo” are looking for changes in their life that is the main theme of the play, whereas their actions, being few, just stress the strife of the main characters for the change.

As for the film “Labyrinth”, the film is closer to “The Boys” rather than to “Savage of Limbo” because the film focuses on the actions and events that unfold in the course of the play. The protagonist of the story, Sarah, travels through the magic world to understand the importance of her relationships with her little brother over her material values. The action of the film unfolds fast and leads to a consistent evolution of the main character. In fact, Sarah evolves from an egoistic girl into a responsible character, who appreciates the personal relations above material values. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that the transformation of the main character occurs in the course of the film and the theme is uncovered steadily through the actions of the film. At this point, the film “Labyrinth” is different from the play “Savage of Limbo” because actions of the film play a very important part in the revelation of the theme, whereas in “Savage of Limbo” actions are secondary to the theme. At the same time, the actions in the film do not play the determinant part in the film and they do not overshadow the main theme but they rather lead to the audience to the adequate understanding of the theme as the director of the film intended to convey it.

In such a context, it is possible to partially agree with Mamet, who stands on the ground that “The life of the play is the life of the unconscious, the protagonist represents ourselves, and the main action of the play constitutes the subject of the dream or myth. It is not the theme of the play to which we respond, but the action – the through action of the protagonist, and the attendant support of the secondary characters, this support lent through their congruent actions. The play is a quest for a solution” (Mamet, 133). In fact, Mamet believes that through the action the audience perceives the main message of the film or play. In such a context, the theme becomes secondary compared to the actions that take place in the course of the play or film. However, the view on the film and play is partially right because the actions of the play or film are important for the understanding of the theme and the message of a play writer or director but the actions cannot overshadow the theme of the play or film. Instead, the actions back up the theme and just help the audience to understand the theme better and more accurately. In such a way, it is hardly possible to agree with Mamet in his views on actions and the theme in plays and films because actions are not absolutely dominant over the theme and the subconscious cannot fully dominate over the conscious perception of a play or film.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the actions in films and plays are very important for the understanding of the main message of the films and plays. However, actions cannot dominate over the theme in regard to the understanding of the film and its adequate perception by the audience. Instead, the audience perceives the theme of films and plays through actions but they shape their views on the films and plays through the actions of the main characters. At the same time, as they shape their view on the theme of a film or play, viewers start perceive the actions of the film and play in the context of the film and play. In such a way, the film and play should focus on the revelation of the theme because it is through the theme the audience can understand the message of the film and play. In fact, a film and play uncovers the theme to help the audience to understand the main message of a director or a play writer. On the other hand, actions help to back up the theme and to understand it in the context of the entire film or play. Therefore, the theme and actions of films and plays are closely intertwined and help to convey the main message to the audience.

 

Works Cited:

Graham, G. The Boys. New York: Penguin Classics, 2008.
Henson, J. Labyrinth. TriStar Pictures, 1986.
Mamet, David. “A National Dream-Life” in Writing in Restaurants, New York: Penguin Books, 1987.
McKee, R. Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screen Writing, New York: Random House, 1999.
Shanley, J.P. Savage in Limbo. New York: Routledge, 2008.
Smiley, S. Playwriting: The Structure of Action, New York: St. Martin Press, 2005.
Vogler, C. The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd ed. New York: Allyson and Bacon, 2007.