Tuesday, November 13, 2012

TODAY'S NUGGET: The Warriors (1979) - Unity & 9 Protagonists

[Quick Summary: After the Warriors are falsely accused of killing a rival gang leader, they are the target of every gang in town, and struggle to get home.]

I like ensemble casts, don't you?

Usually I get mired in scripts with large casts, but I found this one an easy read, because it remembered a couple rules of ensembles:

1 - Pinpoint a leader, i.e., one character who puts the whole story in context. It helps the audience follow along.

In this script, The Fox is a member of a New York gang called the Warriors.

The Warriors are blamed for shooting a rival gang leader during a truce.  

The Fox saw the real shooter.  Thus, he becomes the reason for the story, and for the whole manhunt.

2 - If there are multiple protagonists, antagonists, &/or story lines, they should all be unified in action (cf. Aristotle's Poetics).

The nine Warriors (protagonists) are split up and face many antagonists.

The script moves between their various adventures (multiple story lines):

ex. Swan is captured by the Dingos. Swan must escape a straightjacket to get back to the team.

ex. The Fox regrets bringing Mercy, who was with the Orphan gang, on the journey.  Is Mercy a spy or an innocent?

ex. Cowboy and Rembrandt are lured into a gang chick's lair, and escape an ambush.

So why doesn't the script drag with so many characters and stories?

I think it's because the characters are unified by the same enemy (all gangs) and the same goal (make it home together).

There are several individual stories, but they all move in one direction ----> toward home.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: It's the unity of story that keep ensemble scripts clear.

The Warriors (1979)
Written and directed by Walter Hill
Based on the novel by Sol Yurick

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