Sunday, 15 August 2010

Grand entrances

When creating a story, be it book, movie or comic, you want the principle character to make an impact and nothing matters more than when we first meet them. It sets the tone, the genre and well, you either win or lose your audience in an eyeblink.
We're talking costume (see left), attitude, the way they walk or just the way they arrive. Here's a few that made an impact on me.
1. Frankenfurter. "How do you do I see that you've met my faithful handyman. He's just a little bought down because when you knocked he thought you were the candy man." I'm watching this clip as I write and OMG, weren't the 1970's amazing?
2. James Bond in Dr. No. A Casino. Gorgeous babe in red. The languid way he lit the cigarrette and delivered the greatest introduction in film history. Dammit, the 1960's were pretty awesome too!
3. MacBeth. Ah, this is interesting because we've already met him before we've met him. The witches mention him in Scene 1 and King Duncan sings his praises in Scene 2., so by the time he does appear the anticipation has been built up around him already. This is a very handy technique, building the perception of the protagonist by the way other characters view him or her. It can also be used very easily to misdirect the reader in a big way, because they have a tendency to believe opinions are honestly expressed.
4. Yoda in Empire Strikes Back. Brilliant reversal by casting a muppet as a jedi master. I know it's hard to appreciate it now when he's an institution, but he defined the otherworldliness of the jedi order, and that the Force was much more than lightsabers. "Judge me by my size, do you?"
5. Eli, the girl vampire in Let the Right One In. Skinny, greasy black hair, gaunt and dressed in kneed leggings and a tatty sweater in the snow-covered playground. She looks so pathetic and tragic but the posture and stillness should tell you that something is wrong, wrong, wrong.

2 comments:

Sue Hyams said...

Never a truer word spoken! (And I love the way Frankenfurter descends in the lift so he's seen from the feet up!) As someone who invariably starts a story in the wrong place - ie too soon, too boring, too set up - it's given me a lot to think about.

KMLockwood said...

Oh yes - 'never get a second chance to make a first impression' and all that. I like the misdirection pointer too.