23 dic. 2017

3 cosas importantes que la poética de Aristóteles te enseñará como guionista

People have been telling stories for a long time. From cave paintings to the eventual release of the Avatar sequel in 20XX, a lot has changed. But some things stay the same. Some advice is so good, it lasts for thousands of years. Which is why screenwriters, playwrights, and anyone who wants to tell a good story should know about Aristotle’s three unities.

These rules for drama were originally derived from Aristotle’s Poetics, when the philosopher discussed the definition of tragedy. But trust me, all of the unities work for comedies too. In short, they are:
  1. Unity of Action: A play should have one action that it follows, with minimal diversions. (Or as we might know them, subplots.)
  2. Unity of Time: The action in a play should occur over the course of one day and night.
  3. Unity of Place: A play should exist in a single physical space and should not attempt to compress geography, nor should the stage represent more than one place.
These rules might seem specific to classical plays at first glance. It is of course easier for a single stage to act as a single place, so that the atmosphere isn’t broken by frequent blackouts to change out props. But if we apply these rules to screenwriting, we get some great advice for coming up with outlines, for drafting, and for editing. Here’s what the unities mean for feature films.
Unity of Action means that racecar drivers should solve their problems by driving, thieves should steal, boxers box. Characters in a screenplay should have a particular type of activity they engage in that is the visual way their story is told. This might seem obvious, but when unity of action is disregarded, scripts fall apart completely. Imagine if James Bond decided to solve his problems by rollerblading. While Daniel Craig in a unitard is objectively funny, we want our characters to dance with the one who brung them, we want them to use the same skills they showed off in the first act in the second and third. The highest levels of this arise when we look at how a character’s traits pay off towards the climax of a film. Think about Chris Pratt’s Star Lord distracting Ronan at the end of Guardians of The Galaxy.
Unity of Time means that the order in which things happen should be logical and clear, that the audience should be aware of a sequence of events. For Aristotle, this meant begin in the morning and end at night. This is why so many classic dramas follow Aristotle’s principle of all the activity happening over the course of a single day and night. This concept eventually morphed into the “ticking clock”, the idea that movies are more interesting when there’s a deadline to succeed. Think about any bomb in any movie. The timer makes your heart beat faster, right? Or when someone has to try and do something for an extended period of time, like 40 Days and 40 Nights, or How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. For screenwriting, the audience understanding the time frame is essential to rising tension. We can’t have a ticking clock adding pressure to story unless we know what time it is. There are also movies that play with this idea by altering the order in which audiences see the story unfold. Memento for example, or any of the thousands of movies that show their climactic scene at the opening of the movie, before shunting the audience back three days earlier.

Unity of Space is all about setting the characters in a single place for the duration of the story. The effects of this can vary, but usually it’s about adding tension. Think about Hateful Eight, Saw, and every submarine movie. If we understand the space, we understand the world. The smaller the space, the easier it is to show. It also forces characters to interact, and occasionally even work together to escape. The Poseidon Adventure is another great example of how the space can become the plot. Unity of Space also helps with keeping budgets low. If there’s only one location, then every aspect of a movie shoot is faster and cheaper.
Understanding the three unities is incredibly helpful to shaping a feature script. Knowing how to manipulate them without breaking them can also help find originality in well-worn movie tropes. Consider Speed, which is basically unity of time divided by unity of space. Taking Aristotle’s advice can improve the structure of your script and add tension to the proceedings without sacrificing any extra page real estate. Aristotle used them 2400 years ago; you can use them whenever you want.

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Hace 100 años Fritz Lang empezó en la industria como "dramaturgo" o "story doctor". 
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