In this chapter of ‘the filmmaker’s guide’ we’re actually going to be learning about literature and film together. I understand that many of you are sitting in university during difficult times and finding it increasingly hard to study and I understand that many of you who are not at university or not planning on it are possibly stuck of what to do, need a break or even need to catch up on learning film before you get to the next level. This guide will be brief but will also contain: new vocabulary, concepts and theories, films to watch and we will be exploring something taboo until now in the ‘filmmaker’s guide’ - academia (abyss opens). Each article will explore a different concept of film, philosophy, literature or bibliography/filmography etc. in order to give you something new to learn each time we see each other. You can use some of the words amongst family and friends to sound clever or you can get back to me (email in bio) and tell me how you’re doing. So, strap in and prepare for the filmmaker’s guide to film studies because it is going to be one wild ride.
Conflict on Film
What is it?
It has been well documented that the heart of a drama is conflict and that conflict tends to move a story along. But there are different ways in which this conflict can be viewed. In the post-modern day we have come to the conclusion that there is a certain amount of internal conflict that is required to keep the audience interested. How we view conflict is important as well; we are much more likely to take a side rather than state that both of the sides are wrong or right. There should be one side that feels more moral than the other even though it may not be. This creates part of the 'narrative' or the 'agenda' of the film - it is either going to show us if we are right or if we are wrong.
How is it used?
In basically any dramatic climax of a film, there is some form of conflict either with the character themselves, between two or more people or between various ideas of the film if you want to be really avant-garde.
Let us now take a look at these three examples:
Example 1: "Synecdoche, New York" (2008)
When we watch this film, we notice that there is a conflict within the main character themselves. He is struggling between his want to create the perfect piece of art and his want to have a perfectly normal life. Both of these, however, seemingly come to the same conclusion. What is the film trying to show us about conflict within? That the character, in general, is not willing to actually make changes in order to make their life better and instead, requires to find out where their life went wrong by recreating the social structure upon a stage.
Example 2: "The Third Man" (1949)
This film represents the conflicts between two or more people. First of all, we have the main character vs. the police and the fact that they do not seem to want to believe him. However, then we have the main character vs. the man he came to see, Harry Lime. There is a requirement to understand each and every one of these conflicts in order to get closer to the heart of the story which is: what actually happened to Harry Lime? The reason for this is because we are made to support the main character who is also asking this question.
Example 3: "Eraserhead" (1977)
The conflict of two ideas with one being the requirements of fatherhood and the other being the need for liberation is explored not just through one character but between these very strange different realms of the mind. The woman inside the radiator vs. the child that never stops crying is a way of exploring this and the nature of the characters in conflict with each other is only a part of this odd conflict. I would recommend you watch this film as the feeling of claustrophobia around the responsibility of fatherhood.