Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Wolfman and Characterization

Finally got a chance to watch “The Wolfman” on DVD with the hubby last night. Ahem…it’s not going on my let’s watch this again list. With a cast that includes Benecio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, and Hugo Weaving, I was expecting more ummph and angst!

It was apparent after a few minutes that the actors were not committed to their characters. They were going through the motions, and perhaps they were technically on cue, but there was no depth or emotions behind their efforts. (Except for Emily Hunt. She did bring life to the scenes whenever she was on screen. So kudos to her for givin’ it her all.)
I did at least enjoy the flick. It seems a throw back to “The Wolf Man” with Lon Chaney, Jr., especially the wolf man costuming. When Benecio’s character, Lawrence Talbot, transformed…for a moment I thought I was watching the 1941 version. Not sure if that was the director’s intention in regards to the special effects, so I’ll leave it at that.

During the movie, I pondered the impact of flat characters. That I was thinking about anything else while the story unfolded speaks volumes. If the characters aren’t committed to their tale, why should I?

I think to buy into a character’s story, we need to understand his/her motivation for being there and a strong emotion must be attached to it. I never got that in this film. Lawrence Talbot returns home to his estranged family after learning his brother has disappeared. It’s apparent that Lawrence doesn’t have an emotional attachment to his family so I kept wondering why is he there and why does he care. Neither question was fully answered, so I ended up with the conclusion that he had to return home for there to be a story. Yikes!

Big lesson learned there on a character’s internal motivation.

The external motivation may propel the plot, but the internal motivation fuels the drive to get there. Addressing only the surface issues results in flat characters because there are no layers to explore.

IMHO, a book, a film, a play, should be about the hero/heroine’s journey of self discovery and we come along because want to cheer them when they face obstacles, sympathize or criticize when they make mistakes, and give a pat on the back when they succeed. As observers, we want to feel and experience the emotion in a work of fiction. Without it, we might as well read an encyclopedia.

~Kristal Lee

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Anonymous said...

Rebecca Lynn
July 25, 2010 at 3:59 pm
Totally true! I’ve had a lot of people watch that movie and say they expected better from a cast like that. I think I’ve never been particularly impressed with Benicio d.T., but I expected a lot better from Hopkins and Weaving. Hunt was definitely the highlight of the film.

Of course, I completely agree with your writing advice. That’s a good thing to remember in any genre!

Great post, Kaelee!

PS. You’re not the first person that I’ve recommended this movie to who has hated it. I think I’ve decided that I must like bad horror movies. I have a yen for John Carpenter’s “Vampires”, and no one else I know likes that either.

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