Have you ever noticed that movies have a lot in common? Do you know this feeling? You are watching a new release. The characters and the settings are unique, but you know what is going to happen next, as though you’ve seen the movie before. Sometimes two films are so similar that it’s difficult to tell them apart. But even movies from completely different genres have a familiar ring to them.
The movie Avatar resembles Disney’s Pocahontas in many ways. They have so much in common that, according to BuzzFeed, Avatar is “a story about Pocahontas, except its the year 2154, she’s blue, and she lives on Pandora”.
Antz and A Bug’s Life? Well, the titles are different, if that counts for anything. Okay, I exaggerate. But not by much.
Deep Impact and Armageddon are takes on the same plot. A large rock is headed for Earth, and a team of astronaughts try to save the planet. Not only are these movies incredibly similar, they were released within weeks of each other! The parallels between the films were not lost on movie critics, who have written many articles comparing the two. Which movie is better? Mostly comes down to whether you prefer Morgan Freeman or Bruce Willis and how much you enjoy watching things explode.
A common thread
The resemblance between different movies isn’t always as obvious as in the examples above, but it is still there.
What is going on? Do movie writers lack creativity? Are they just copying each other? Well, some are. But that’s not the whole story.
In fact, great story writers all follow the same underlying structure, often intentionally. Movies, plays, novels, fairy-tales, comic books, cartoons and even some of the best ads on TV all have the same pattern. It is a template that we see over and over again, all over the world and throughout the ages.
This pattern is called a story arc, and it is very old. We find the classic story arc in Grendel’s journey in Beowulf which was written all the way back in 700 BC! How amazing to think that when we watch a movie, no matter how modern it is, it is based on a story structure that has been handed down through the generations, from the beginning of human history.
Let’s learn more about this classic story arc, and talk about movies in English.
Access the full movie lesson plan here.
We’d love to hear your thoughts. Can you think of any striking similarities between movies that you have seen?
Add your comments below!