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Coming up with the dratted THEME

 
 
littlek
 
Reply Sat 25 Oct, 2008 07:59 pm
I have always had trouble with this theme stuff. It's as bad as symbolism, maybe worse sometimes. I guess I am not an abstract thinker. I'll need to be better at this to be a teacher.

I thought maybe we could throw out titles of books, movies, lyrics, whatever, to come up with themes.

For instance, the movie No Country for Old Men baffles me. I liked it. But, I had a hard enough time with the plot let alone the theme. Anyone have any hints for me?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 6 • Views: 1,090 • Replies: 17
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Oct, 2008 08:03 pm
@littlek,
I love this stuff but I haven't seen that movie...

Throw out a few more and I'll see what I can do.
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Oct, 2008 08:06 pm
@littlek,
I'm not sure what you're asking.

Do you need a theme for something, or do you want to know the theme in NC for OM?
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Oct, 2008 08:07 pm
@chai2,
She's wanting to practice teasing out themes from stuff, I think.

(There, I found the theme of littlek's post! Gimme another one!)
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Oct, 2008 08:08 pm
@chai2,
Sozobe.... um.... just pick a movie or book and go with it.

Chai - just need to practice pulling themes in general.
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Oct, 2008 08:09 pm
@sozobe,
Go Soz!

I've come to realize (but not until my mid to late 30s) that you could have anything as a theme so long as you could support your choice with 'evidence' from the plot. Though, some random themes would be harder to prove than others.....
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Oct, 2008 08:13 pm
@littlek,
Oh god.

Um.

OK, I just watched the second Harry Potter movie. It had a few themes. One was basically about fate -- whether we ARE something, intrinsically, or whether we control our own identities. Harry fretting about whether he was "meant" to be in Slytherin (and is maybe a descendant of the original Slytherin), and Dumbledore explaining that Harry is in Gryffindor because he CHOSE to go there. And that choices are important.
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Oct, 2008 08:21 pm
@littlek,
So you're a very literal, concrete thinker?

um....

ok, I recently read a book called "Covenant of Salt"

Salt played a major part in the the book, you realize as the story progress, the woman in the book has become just as dry, brittle and bitter as the salt.

In the end, all these plans she had made to "get someone back" went through, but, the people she plotted against really didn't care.

A little salt is good in life, too much makes you barren and cold.

0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Oct, 2008 08:58 pm
Good one Soz!

Chai, you gave me symbolism and theme - yes?
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Oct, 2008 11:36 pm
@littlek,
"Greed will get you in trouble." (Never should have gone into the OK Corral, let alone gotten the bag of money. Woody Harrelson's character, and the mob boss get whacked over it, too.)

"No good deed goes unpunished." (He went back to give the guy water.)

"Listen to your intuition." (He knew it was stupid to take the water, but went ahead and did it anyway. Later he finds the tracking device in the money bag.)

"Evil is all around even though you may not be aware of it." (Anton Chigurh)
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Oct, 2008 11:49 pm
@DrewDad,
"The world is completely oblivious to the most important struggles of your life."
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 12:13 am
I was packing away some books today and ran across Joseph Wambaugh's The Glitter Dome. There is no glitter in the book--it is mostly poignant, sometimes funny snippets of the earthy, mundane, sometimes raunchy lives of cops in an inner city precinct. But occasionally the word glitter does show up. In retrospect, I think the theme is that under the glitter and shine of the exterior facade is the earthy, crude, mundane, raunchy reality.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 01:47 am
@littlek,
Steinbeck's East of Eden was clearly an Cain and Able theme. I never checked Cliff's Notes, but if it differs, it is wrong.

Lets see, a father (godlike figure), two sons. One doing everything possible to please father, and the other found and gave a stray puppy, which god loved. Son number one damn near killed him.

Son number two becomes the god like father of another generation, and remarkable coincidence, there were two sons. The one most pleasing was driven off to war and killed.

This could be developed over pages, but that's the idea. Hey, here's a thought. Run down to a bookstore and browse through Cliff's Notes.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 02:42 am
@littlek,
littlek wrote:

I have always had trouble with this theme stuff. It's as bad as symbolism, maybe worse sometimes. I guess I am not an abstract thinker. I'll need to be better at this to be a teacher.

I thought maybe we could throw out titles of books, movies, lyrics, whatever, to come up with themes.

For instance, the movie No Country for Old Men baffles me. I liked it. But, I had a hard enough time with the plot let alone the theme. Anyone have any hints for me?



THings fall apart, the centre cannot hold, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world?

Out of time

Living too long.

0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 04:52 am
Tell them something they want to hear and if you get it right enough you make a profit.

The basic theme of movies is movies and movie people and for books it's writing and literary people

0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 09:09 am
Okay, I'll take a film I like: O Brother Where Art Thou?

It is a modern take on the Odyssey and the Coen brothers have said so, but it's more. In something like four (or maybe more) different scenes, people are described as looking for answers. Mrs. Hogwallop leaves (according to Ulysses Everett McGill) because she's probably looking for answers; the Cyclops sells bibles because people in hard times are looking for answers; Penny McGill tells her daughters that Daddy is dead -- and not divorced and on the prison farm -- and changes all of their names back to her maiden name, Whorvey, because, she says, they look to her for answers. And people are being baptized in the river -- including Pete and Delmar -- because they are looking for answers.

And you can see what's behind those searches. Mrs. Hogwallop leaves because it's all despair at the horse farm, and she lost one child and they barely get any food to eat. The Cyclops sees his customers as suckers but every scene we see of common folks is that they are all working and trying their best, doing things like plowing fields or listening to the radio or clerking at a general store or standing in line at the bank.

Penny and Everett's daughters don't really believe Daddy is dead although they're perplexed as to the inconsistency. But none of them actually think that or confront their Mama for lying to them in order to spare their feelings. Penny herself is shabby and desperate, ready to marry a man who clearly does nothing for her (although he seems kind and decent, he's just nothing exciting). You see her talking to Everett and there's heat between them -- and her straw hat is fraying. She's barely keeping things together. And the folks being baptized may not have much but they all seem to be happy. And it may not even be due so much to faith as it is to them being together and going towards a common cause.

The blind seer in the beginning of the film say they will not find the treasure they seek. Everett knows there really isn't any money, but they get something more. They get some respectability. They get pardoned. They save Tommy -- a purely unselfish act. Everett and Penny may or may not be back together. Pete might be able to open the restaurant he speaks of when they talk about their dreams. Delmar, if he gets any money at all, is going to go buy back the family farm because he says you're not a man unless you've got land. Their journey doesn't get them into one exact place, it gets them to a different one, but it's still, ultimately, satisfying, although you can see that Penny's sharpness and Everett's scheming may get them right back to where they started from once the curtain has fallen and their lives take up after the movie has ended.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 09:19 am
@jespah,
Sounds pretty depressing jes. I presume the gloom is relieved by witty casting.
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 02:23 pm
Great stuff everyone!
0 Replies
 
 

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