Storytelling in movies

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We took the kids to see the movie Eddie the eagle on the weekend. (Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen it!)

I expected that it would be the usual underdog beats all odds theme – and it was.

Protagonist – Eddie, uncoordinated but passionate about his sport
Family – Mum supports his dreams, Dad thinks he needs to become a plasterer like himself
Setting – UK, Germany, Canada
What does the character want? – Eddie wants to be an Olympian
Conflict – minor – as a kid, Eddie wears a brace and uses crutches because he has a ‘bad’ knee and as an adult, his dad wants him to become a plasterer
Conflict – major – the UK Olympic committee don’t believe he is sponsorship material so they do everything they can to prevent him from entering the Olympics
Mentor – ex-champion ski jumper, who is now a drunk and is reluctant to help Eddie at the beginning but turns out to support him later.

So, there you have all the elements that make up this story. It’s a pretty basic story arc – as it should be for a kids’ movie. And of course, as you probably know since it is based on a true story, Eddie the Eagle does qualify for the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, Canada. He successfully completes the 90m jump, setting a personal best record, as well as a record for Britain.

I laughed at the funny parts, held my breath as Eddie sped down slopes and then held it again as he flew in the air and landed. He was endearingly clumsy and naive, and he just didn’t give up. And even though it was a predictable storyline, it still worked.

But, there were two scenes in the movie which I thought shouldn’t have been included, mainly because they weren’t PG, and also because they didn’t add anything to the story. There was a scene with Eddie and an older woman, who was trying to seduce him. Eddie was obviously uncomfortable, and I felt uncomfortable, too, thinking of Miss 9 and Mr 6 sitting next to me. There was also a scene where Hugh Jackman, who plays the mentor, tried to teach Eddie how to glide as if he were making love. There was a lot of facial expressions and related noises which clearly amused some women in the audience but again, made me wonder what my kids thought of it.

Both these scenes didn’t add anything to the story. Eddie had no relationships, and neither did his mentor. The older woman offered Eddie a job, but she had a minor role. The scenes didn’t advance the plot, add a subtle layer to the characters, explain their backstory – nil! Obviously there for the gratification of the adults accompanying their kids to the film.

So, the storytelling for this film would have been perfect but predictable, except for the addition of these two scenes. I’m curious to know what you think, if you’ve seen the movie?

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