Updated: Mar 30
Emotions like suspense, tension, fear, happiness, joy, humor or sadness among others impacted on any audience are important for the commercial successes of movies. These are primary elements sought after by producers and crafted by storytellers, screenwriters, cinematographers, special effects makeup artists, editors and directors together with others in the filmmaking process.
There are detectable secondary emotions communicated as takeaways: danger, evil, liberation, agony, audacity, reliability or practicality that inspire or bore audiences. However pursuant to charming audiences with cinematography, directing, special effect artistry or editing among other cinematic tools, the storyteller/screenwriter should be able to communicate, with a balance of visuals and dialogues. Skilled storytellers and screenwriters identify the emotional or inner makeup, characteristic of the protagonist in terms of his or her motivation and purpose.
A movie character’s motivation or drive comes from an inner yearning to achieve something. The character is driven by some emotions based on need to reach a certain goal or achieve a purpose. This will mean removing an inequity or changing an unfavorable situation.
Whether movie characters are motivated for the wrong goals or pursue goals for the wrong motivations, their emotions will be tasked. That is when faced with conflicting motivations to help achieve goals or purposes. There ensues organic growth of conflicts between characters in any movie.
As characters battle or support each other through the duration of any movie, we see each driven by various motivations impacting externalized conflicts, which give up plots. It is the screenwriter’s job to enable emotional nuances, expressed between protagonist or hero and antagonist or the villain in concert with other characters. They all look forward to either achieving the set overall story goal or stopping it.
Accordingly, the storyteller or screenwriter has to know how to pace emotional highs and lows near plot and pinch points. Therefore internally, we the audience experience joy, grief, fear, or anxiety from physical consequences of the characters’ actions. Again, these are formulated by their inner drives or motivations towards helping to achieve or preventing individual goals. Anyhow emotions become subjective labels, subject to audiences or individual understanding in any given cultural context. These are seen or experienced through story Archetypes or Tropes.
The writer’s duty will be to provoke amazement, disgust or happiness in scene development, description of setting or get humored by some sequence of events. So, the character’s emotions must be clear and genuine; because thoughts and dialogue can lie, but emotions always tell the truth.
It is only then that audiences will love stories, based on any character’s genuine expressions of emotions. That connection to the character’s emotions enables deep and meaningful feeling and re-experiencing of his or her life afterwards. Indeed, learning and bonding as it were with the storyteller or filmmaker’s statement or intention, expressed through the character.
A character’s emotional development organically grows his or her change at the overall story level. Emotional changes consequently depend on provoking emotional reactions in scenes. Being a strong physical element expressed basically through body language, the writer communicates emotions through such reactions in relation to the conflict.
This reveals that emotions are internal and external, telling and showing respectively. Stories that tell emotions than show emotions, residing more in their minds and thoughts than expressing through body languages do not attract audiences enough. In showing emotions stories become relatable and humanizing. Being able to relate the truthful emotions confirms the addition of values to stories and intrigues audiences.
Disasters, conflict or obstacles always bring out the real persona in story characters and prompt audiences’ sharing in their fates or destinations. So beyond lining up logical scenes and drawing conclusions moviegoers need to experience a strong human element in the character’s emotional reactions and development.
While the character’s growth will not wholly be physical; which is why action movies ought to communicate the emotional development in stories, the development or character arcs must strike depth. That is to say the character’s outer journey (external conflict or the dramatic plotline) must earn from or cause an inner character transformation (emotional development plotline). This must be unveiled in step-by-step or consecutive and cumulative scenes throughout movie’s duration. It must be long-lasting and transformative.
The implication is a permanent or enduring growth that interests the audience to continue watching the movie or desire repeated enjoyment. It can only happen when conflict, tension and suspense pin moviegoers down.
This will need a strong thematic exposition in scenes. Therefore, the character’s emotional change affects the overall character emotional development via the actions that cause emotional change. The character experiences mood changes within scenes in reaction to dialogue and action in scene.
Characters can undergo all kinds of emotions, depending on the drama and steadily from scene to scene. That is to say emotional growth must have a cause-and-effect account to drive the dramatic action plot. Often times it is shared mutual unfolding of whether to make decisions to drive actions or take actions to drive decisions. Actions and decisions mirrored accordingly will be decided by the writer’s balancing of dramatic action impacting characters, who respond emotionally to actions within scenes.
How the character works and walks towards the goals reveals its characteristics. How he or she responds emotionally enables success or failure, which reveals more of the nuances. Indeed, the effect in terms of emotional reactions and responses. Actions without emotional impact will fall short of audience’s relationship with characters and enjoyment of the overall story interest.