King of New York

June 3, 2007

This film got me to wondering what makes a sympathetic main character.  Is just being the main character enough to get sympathy from the audience?  Is it the actions or intent that add to that?  Plenty of movies are made where the main character is a “bad guy”, but yet in the end we want them to win.  In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, just about every character had killed or betrayed someone else, but yet there were still some that were more sympathetic than others.  Perhaps it’s in the charismatic good looks that allows characters that Johnny Depp plays to get away with murder and still be adored.  I don’t think that really applies to Christopher Walken’s character though.

Perhaps it was intent then.  The idea that he was trying to change his life, change the world for the better.  Even if he could only do that through murder.  Whereas the band of 3 cops who tried to bring him down were motivated by revenge, which is the undoing of everyone who ever hit the screen.

I thought a bit about my Anne Bonny script, and how the professor said “How can the audience sympathize with a character who kills someone in the first 5 minutes of the film?”  The same way they sympathize with any character that gets the most screen time.  Audiences are dumb, they only need to see who is on screen for the most amount of time to decide who to care about.  This is why Heat was unsuccessful, the dual characters just confused the audience.

I don’t know if I really believe that.  It’s easier just to type things out so I remember to think about them later.

I was also thinking tonight about the quote “With great power comes great responsibility.”  I think they used it in one of the Spiderman movies, and I think Stan Lee actually wrote that for the original comic books.  The idea was that people with super powers were morally obligated to use their powers for good.  But here’s the thing, we all have great power.  In the age of internet, international travel, weaponry and information, everyone in the world has the power to greatly influence the entire world and future.  It could be for good, like working tirelessly to discover cures for diseases or leading a country to a better system of government, or it could be for not so good like gunning down random strangers.  But every single person on this planet has the power to do something extraordinary.  Most just chose not to, because it’s easier.


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