Wednesday, March 7, 2007


TRANSITION – a character who is on the threshold of a new life but not yet able to let go of the previous stage of their life. Eg adolescence to adulthood (Y Tu Mamma). Moments where a character is facing a different kind of adulthood – eg. The Good Girl is about giving up freedom, and About Shmidt is about to retire from his job, and Stand By Me is about a girl who is going to high school. All of the main characters here are facing a new bit of life and are reluctant to leave their old bit of life.

CHARACTERS. Rites of Passage characters have to face change that is inevitable – often it’s ‘time’ or ‘age’ bringing a new situation into your life that you aren’t ready yet to live. The characters ATTITUDE has to change.They have to learn what it is they want. They might not achieve moving on or have to accept they can’t have what they used to have. These characters are often taken away in order to learn what it is that they need to learn.There is often a section in a ROP they term ‘creating a space to learn’ – eg Y Tu Mamma – they go to the beach, About Shmidt – goes to Denver.

Rites of Passage characters are ‘incomplete,’ and active – they want to do things and are restless, searching.They are stuck at a moment in their lives but aren’t conscious and search around for something to do. They find somewhere to go, which is an actual journey. ROP characters make active choices but do something completely different. They usually do a form of ‘distraction’ which in some way connects. They are trying to hold on to something. They are heading towards a moment of understanding.

They don’t know what’s wrong – so they don’t know how to tell anyone what’s wrong.


The stakes matter to the audience more than the character. We can see what’s really wrong. We care about them because we recognise something about them. We have to care. Not a surprise ending – we have to see where this character needs to get to.

Often take characters away from normal life – that is away from their usual reality (eg in The Good Girl she has an affair).

Often literal sometimes metaphorical. ROP is as much about letting go as it is about moving on.

CATALYST – death is a way of allowing themselves to face up to what they need to face up to. Stand By Me – finding the body he needs to accept his brother is dead and that’s the way he is going to live – he is then able to stand upto Keifer Sutherland character. About Shmidt – finally he has to accept his daughter is going to marry and the death of his idea of what his daughter was. He has to face the fact that his relationship as it was, is dead. This is what allows him to face up to his wife’s death.
Death is often what most of us are trying to come to terms with and another (sort of) death is often a way they come to terms with it.


ROP often need a voiceover when they don’t have a confidant. Eg. About Shmidt letters.