Here is something that I think often gets overlooked when it comes to storytelling. Everyone wants to be entertained, and don’t get me wrong I am one of those people as well, but what is more entertaining than the most extraordinary circumstances that an individual can go through in a given time period.
Think about the movie The Avengers, or any superhero movie for that matter. It is entertaining with all the explosions, the fights, and a little drama thrown in. Think about all the Bourne movies or the Taken series, how ridiculous these plots seem in a real life scenario. Still regardless of their fanciful nature they are still fun stories and are very entertaining to say the least.
While these extraordinary fanciful plots and wildly bizarre circumstances seem to happen with some regularity on the big screen, I want to take some time to look at the stories that deal with just simple real life. I recently saw Boyhood, which was a pretty good movie. It was just a real life story, no exploding cars, or shootouts, or anything seemingly out of the ordinary. The amazing thing is that this story had my attention the whole time, I will also say that it is a very long movie.
As fun as all the other sifi, thriller, murder mystery movies that are out there, it is easy to forget about the art of telling a story of a normal life. This movie did a great job of portraying a normal kid growing up. While I was watching I kept waiting for the plot twist, for that one exciting crazy thing to happen to make the movie more intense. I kept waiting for his mom to get cancer, his sister to die, for the boy to die, for something to happen. It never happened, and it dawned on me that although there are many real like scenarios that could have happened in the movie to make it more interesting, the fact that nothing like that did happen also is real. Sometimes life is just plain o’l normal life, and there are real stories that can be told about that as well. One of my friends said the movie was anticlimactic, I responded with well such is life, I suppose.
It is funny to think that while watching Boyhood I had almost been conditioned by Hollywood to expect something dramatic to happen, that was eye opening for me about the stories that are being told on the big screen. I wish there were more stories out there about real life, but they are few and far between. I did read a graphic novel call Genius, whose plot was nothing crazy just about a simple family man struggling to raise his kids, deal with his live in father-in-law, and hold down a demanding job. Who in the real world cannot relate to any of those?
I think it is funny that these stories are so few and far between. I am trying to think of other stories that I have read that fall along these lines but no others are coming to mind. It just shows that we want to and need to be entertained and in doing so we do not want to read or watch a story about real life. We want to see the car chases and the soot ‘em up films, I think because it is an escape from the terrible thing we call reality. I don’t want to be entertained with a story about a someone struggling at their job, or a single parent raising kids, or a family member dying of cancer, in a sense that is too real.
It is also interesting that in rare occurrences real life is better than any fiction the most brilliant writer could come up with. American Sniper and Unbroken are two very real examples of the extraordinary events that have occurred during one’s life. Despite these stories being real it is still hard to imagine that these things actually happened. In a very real sense even real life sometimes seems like it was made for the silver screen.
My point, if I have one and I am not sure if I do, is that it is nice to read or get engrained in a story that is real and as close to real life as you and me going to work every day. There are so many great stories out there, but it is nice to come back down to earth, so to speak, with nothing but a simple real story about the ordinary mundane repeat that is real life.