Friday, 21 October 2016

Narrative | Tree Design

'Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2' | Opposing Characters

A huge aspect within the world of cinema that not only draws an audience to it, but also drives the story, is this idea of character, or more specifically, opposing characters. Throughout countless films opposing characters can be found, often times the entire story will revolve around these characters, relying on a central conflict or a difference in ideals to move the plot of the film onwards. Now the majority of the time these opposing characters can be simply placed into the pigeon holes of 'good' and 'evil', take Marvel's Thor (2011) for example, the central hero, Thor, is in complete opposition in terms of ideals with his brother Loki, and this conflict is essentially what drives the plot forward and molds an interesting story. This idea of a difference in ideals is extremely important in this area of film as it doesn't always need to be a physical difference that separates characters, instead it can be a difference within a subject's background that splits a pair apart.

A great example of this idea of opposition at work can be found within any Harry Potter movie, more specifically Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 which was released in 2011, a film which has been described as "frequently moving" by other reviews(Sandhu. 2013). The idea of an opposing ideal not only drives this film in particular but also the entire series. The fact that Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) have a conflict that runs through eight films drives the entire plot and helps shape the world famous characters into who they are. Now this conflict is obviously vastly explored throughout the films and as they go on the audience learns more and more about the pairs respective backgrounds and what makes them so different, or in some cases, very alike. These background differences are unpicked throughout the films and help the audience understand the conflict at hand, and its these differences that drive the plot and craft the characters.

Fig 1: Movie Poster, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2

The first difference that splits these conflicting characters apart are their respective personal histories, interestingly the characters also share certain aspects of this which helps make them vastly more complicated. Potter has had a complex childhood, much like Voldemort, which involved the death of his parents and the compulsory living conditions that come with number 4 Privet Drive, two things that aren't a million miles away from the situation Voldemort, or as he was known then Tom Riddle, had to face as well. This idea that the characters share similar backgrounds is what makes this conflict so interesting, the realization that their lives have parallels is what makes the audience realize that Harry Potter is a worthy hero, as both him and the central villain shared experiences and evolved in extremely different ways. This aspect leads the characters onto their personal world view, which very obviously differs massively. Harry and Voldemort seem to have lead similar childhoods, both with unstable homes and both lived their early years unaware of their true power, however these characters views differ massively. Whilst Harry sees the wizarding world as a place of great wonder and magic, Voldemort views it in a very different light, as a place where his true potential could finally be unlocked and he could reach the status he believes he deserves. Interestingly, the characters inherited world is also extremely similar, as both grew up and learnt their wizarding heritage at a late age and both inherited the same magical world, yet went on to do extremely different things within it. This parallel of similarities runs throughout the films as new light is shed on the characters, which really drives home the positive and negative qualities of both characters to the audience.

additional aspects that often separates conflicting characters are their wants and needs, it wont be unfamiliar to an audience that rival characters have different necessities and goals, and Harry Potter is no difference. Throughout the film, and series, Harry consistently needs guidance and help from a mentor, where as Voldemort spends his time gathering followers and leading his army. This is obviously a huge difference between the characters that separates them both physically and idyllically, which in turn drives the entire plot of the film/films and helps the audience get a grasp of the type of characters the two are. It is also interesting to note that both characters in some way need the help of external forces, Harry with his friends Ron and Hermoine and Voldemort with his Death Eaters, once again linking the characters with a common trait. Now traits often help divide characters, whilst Harry is hopeful, optimistic and at times na├»ve, Voldemort carries the heir of dominance and extreme confidence, this is obviously due to a difference in age, which leads to the characters having a very different skill set. Whilst Harry is a capable wizard, he doesn't nearly compare to the powers at Voldemort's disposal, which means that the plot asks very different things of the two, whilst Harry is required to be brave and complete tasks outside of his abilities, Voldemort spends the majority of this time relaxed and unmatched by an opponent, causing them to have very different flaws.

Fig 2: Harry And Voldemort

These flaws massively define the characters and who they eventually become within the story, whilst Harry consistently has to face huge challenges his opponent spends the entire film simply waiting to be challenged. This endless trial that Harry must undertake to complete his quest also forces him carry a flaw, as Harry is essentially a magnet for enemies he often refuses the help of companions through fear of putting them in danger, however these companions are often the only reason Harry is ever able to survive. This personal flaw that Harry has to deal with regularly throughout the film/films is something that Voldemort is never really met with, as the powerful wizard rarely needs the help of his death eaters to complete his tasks, they essentially work as useless henchman, meaning that on a basic level Voldemort doesn't have any brave companions to rely on, which leads to his downfall. The arc of the two characters, although taking different forms, isn't too different when broken down to a basic level. Both Harry and Voldemort have a task to achieve, but Harry is the one who cant complete his quest whilst Voldemort is still in power, where as the primary goal of Voldemort isn't to kill Harry, but to stay in power, which is something he cannot do whilst Harry is alive, causing them to be trapped in a competitive loop. Throughout the entire film, the plot is leading to one internal conflict, that being the battle between Harry and Voldemort, which takes the shape of a duel on school grounds. This battle to end all battles is essentially what each film in the series has been leading too, and whilst both characters take different paths to get to this final conflict, it cant be argued that the pair share certain similarities which lead them to this final sequence. O'Hara states that "where earlier films revolved around solving a mystery, this one shifts to a war footing without losing its emphasis on character and emotion" (0'hara, 2010), and its this emphasis on character that really drives home not only the integral story that encompasses The Deathly Hallows but also crafts the main cast into memorable subjects. Whilst their experiences do differ greatly, the similarities within their lives should really lead them to similar ideals, however crucial differences have ensured that whilst both characters are strong personalities, they never falter on what they believe to be the correct decision to be made is, ensuring that they stay conflicted throughout each film.

Fig 3: Harry

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a film and story that relies greatly on this central conflict that sets two powerful characters apart, Bradshaw states "Radcliffe's Harry Potter has emerged as a complex, confident, vulnerable, courageous character"(Bradshaw, 2011), descriptions that only briefly explain just how complicated and interesting this characters ais. Due to this the characters of Harry and Lord Voldemort remain both interesting and compelling characters throughout, ensuring that each duel and magical confrontation is just as tense as the last. 


Bradshaw, Peter, 2011, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – review,, Accessed on: 21.10.16

O'Hara, Helen, 2010, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Review,, Accessed on: 21.10.16

Sandhu, Sukhdev, 2013, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: review,, Accessed on: 21.10.16

Illustration List

Fig 1: Movie Poster, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2,
%E2%80%93_Part_2, Accessed on: 21.10.16

Fig 2: Harry And Voldemort, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2,, Accessed on: 21.10.16

Fig 3: Harry, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2,, Accessed on: 21.10.16

Narrative | Lumberjack Expression Sheet

Friday, 14 October 2016

Narrative | Environment Design

2D Character Rigging | Part 8-9

'Monsters, Inc.' | Three Act Structure

In this modern era of cinema films often enjoy shaking up the norm as it were, delivering more structurally challenging stories, however the art form of film hasn't always been this way, for generations countless movies have meticulously followed the idea of a structured tale. The notion of a 'Three Act' structure dates back centuries, implying that the human brain has always had some level of understanding or appreciation for a story that seems familiar or it some cases, simple. The three act structure is essentially an idea that suggests every story follows the same beats, in its simplest terms, a beginning, middle and end. Now this idea has been disputed over time and it has been suggested that a five act structure would be a better way of breaking down the framework of a story.

This idea of a three act structure is never the less present in countless films, and Pixar's animated feature Monster Inc.(2002) is no exception to that, a film created by who's animation, according to Ebert "creates an uncanny sense of dimension and movement" (Ebert, 2001). The tale of two monsters tasked with returning a human girl back to her own world most definitely has the vital components that help meet this three act structure, namely, a beginning, middle and end.

Fig 1: Movie Poster, Monsters, Inc.

The first act in this structure is often extremely similar within films, the act where characters are introduced, worlds are explored and often an act where motives are explained and understood. In the case of Monsters, Inc. the first act consists of meeting the main heroes, Mike and Sully, and getting to know the world they live in, a place that has been described as "Cleverly Developed" (Plath, 2016). Now this notion of understanding a world or more particularly, the rules of that world, are extremely prominent in this animated feature, as the way these monsters live their lives and the social laws they abide by helps to craft the beginnings of the story. As the audience is given subtle exposition explaining the idea of a human within their world as being an extremely taboo subject, and something that could land a monster in a tone of trouble, the pieces of this story begin to slide into place, giving the viewer an idea of where this charming story could be heading. Also within this Act, it is often found that an incident will occur that sets up the rest of the film, essentially putting the story into gear. In Monsters, Inc. this incident exists in the event of the child character Boo, finding herself in the monsters world and our main heroes having to deal with the task of firstly hiding her, and eventually coming up with a plan to return her home.

Fig 2: Mike And Sully, Screenshot, Monsters, Inc.

The second Act of this structure is where the main events of the story take place, the bulk of the story if you will. The first part of this second act is often filled with obstacles that the hero must overcome in order to achieve their goal. In the case of Mike and Sully, their first obstacle is Randall, a rival monster on the scare floor who suspects the heroic pair may be up to something and takes any opportunity to catch them red handed. The first culmination is generally the step that follows next and in this case simply becomes the fact that Mike and Sully begin to devise a plan to return Boo home without being noticed, which as one can imagine, rarely goes to plan, leading onto the mid point, where the challenges begin to increase in difficulty. In Monster, Inc. this comes in the form of Randall managing to catch the pair trying to return Boo home and ensuring the girl is taken and the heroes are banished to another world, creating an alteration in the story that the heroes must overcome. For Mike and Sully this next obstacle is the task of getting home, climbing through countless portal doors to try and find their way home to rescue Boo and stop the evil Randall in his tracks. Now comes the climax of the story, the big heroic deed that must be fulfilled in order for the quest to be complete, in this animated classic the climax is the sequence in which the banished pair return home to rescue Boo and are chased through countless doors by Randall, leading to Mike and Sully eventually besting Randall and exposing the villainous Mr Waternoose as the corrupt boss he really is.

Fig 3: Randall, Screenshot, Monsters, Inc.

The third act in this structure is the part of nearly every story where the quest the heroes venture out on is complete and any tasks left are resolved. For Mike and Sully this the part of the story where the pair manage to successfully manage to return Boo home to her own world, a scene that not only resolves the main objective of the duo but also leaves the audience in floods of tears. As the main quest is now resolved, any unfinished tasks or loose ends are generally tied up, in Monsters, Inc. this is when the pair manage to turn the companies motives and ideals around, successfully changing the main goal of a monster from being to scare a child, to making one laugh, creating a more ethical and sustainable source of energy for the monster world.

Now although this three act structure does have it critics, suggesting that a five act structure would be more suitable, one cannot deny that the formula does manage to find its way into a number of stories, ensuring that the tale is not only familiar, but relatable, and the heart warming Monsters, Inc., a film that has been described as " soaringly lovely(Collin, Robey, 2013) is no exception.


Collin, Robbie, Robey, Tim, 2013, Film in brief: The Wee Man, Ballroom Dancer, Monsters Inc 3D, review,, Accessed on: 14.10.16

Ebert, Roger, 2001, Monsters, Inc.,, Accessed on: 14.10.16

Plath, James, 2016, MONSTERS. INC, (Ultimate Collector's Edition),, Accessed on: 14.10.16

Illustration List

Fig 1: Movie Poster, Monsters, Inc.,, Accessed on: 14.10.16

Fig 2: Screenshot, Monsters, Inc.,, Accessed on: 14.10.16

Fig 3: Randall, Screenshot, Monsters, Inc.,, Accessed on: 14.10.16