#TypesTuesday – Archetype or Character Type? Wizards in Harry Potter

dumbledore-etbscreenwritingI was having a conversation with a friend the other day about archetypes. I must admit, I am not a fan. To me an archetype is a job description: a wizard, trickster, mother, hero, outlaw, seductress, judge, or mystic simply do different kinds of work in a story.

Let’s take the first job on the list, wizard. The Harry Potter book and film series features many different wizards. Each has his or her own individual kind of wizardry and distinctive personality.

That’s the problem with archetypes. There is no one way to be a wizard. There are lots of different ways to play that role in a story. Different wizards view their role or job differently, believe different things about the world, and frame their responsibilities very differently. In a story, a character’s job or role is much less important than how the person sees the world, understands that role, and fulfills his or her duties.

That’s where Character Type comes in. Character Type determines how a person views the world, sees his or her place in it, and develops a philosophy of life and love, Character Type creates innate strengths and weaknesses and determines the lessons to be learn over the arc of the story. Different Character Types are concerned about very different aspects of their role or job. For example:

A Power of Will wizard is most concerned with using his or her abilities for vengeance or to expand and defend a personal domain or to bend others or the elements into submission.  Lord Voldemort is a great example.  “There is no good and evil, there is only power…and those too weak to seek it.”

A Power of Conscience wizard is most concerned with the justice and ethics of magic and how it is most rightly or properly used.  They do not break rules or tolerate misbehavior.  Minerva McGonagall is a great example:    ‘Now, I must warn you that the most stringent anti-cheating charms have been applied to your examination papers. Auto-Answer Quills are banned from the examination hall, as are Remembralls, Detachable Cribbing Cuffs and Self-Correcting Ink. Every year, I am afraid to say, seems to harbour at least one student who thinks that he or she can get around the Wizarding Examinations Authority’s rules. I can only hope that it is nobody in Gryffindor.”

A Power of Ambition wizard is most concerned with the flash, dazzle and showy presentation required to be impressive, gain prestige, status, being popular, or acquiring a grand reputation.  Draco Malfoy is a great example:  “My father told me all the Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and more children than they can afford… You’ll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don’t want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there.”

A Power of Truth wizard is most concerned with divining oracles and prophesies or delving into deep dark hidden secrets.  They are secret keepers and it’s hard to know where their real loyalties lie.  Severus Snape is a great example:  “What made you think he’d really stopped supporting Voldemort, Professor?”  Dumbledore held Harry’s gaze for a few seconds, and then said, “That, Harry, is a matter between Professor Snape and myself.” Snape has the most surprising reveal in the story, which changes our whole view of him at the end.

A Power of Reason wizard is most concerned with the magical formulas or precise processes that lead to specific knowledge or expertise.  Hermione Granger is a great example:  “That’s what Hermione does. When in doubt, go to the library.” She is a little off-putting and can be very condescending but she is one of the smartest and best informed young wizards in the group.

A Power of Excitement wizard is most concerned with adventurous exploring, wild experimenting or creating the chaos that makes magic fun and surprising.  They hate being bored or trapped. Sirius Black is a great exmple:  “Personally, I’d have welcomed a dementor attack. A deadly struggle for my soul would have broken the monotony nicely. You think you’ve had it bad, at least you’ve been able to get out and about, stretch your legs, get into a few fights…. I’ve been stuck inside for a month.”

A Power of Love wizard is most concerned with relationship magic, bonding spells, and creating mutual alliances.  These Character Types are stalwart friends and are self -sacrificing for others.  Harry’s best friend Ron is a good example:  “We’re nearly there,” Ron muttered suddenly. “Let me think — let me think…” The white queen turned her blank face toward him. “Yes…” said Ron softly, “it’s the only way … I’ve got to be taken.” “NO!” Harry and Hermione shouted.”That’s chess!” snapped Ron. “You’ve got to make some sacrifices! I take one step forward and she’ll take me — that leaves you free to checkmate the king, Harry!”

A Power of Idealism wizard is most concerned with creating magic that is completely unique, entirely special, and is a reflection of his or her deepest passions.  These are the truly exceptional wizards, those who are the legends.  Dumbledore is a good example:  “Professor Dumbledore, though very old, always gave an impression of great energy. He had several feet of long silver hair and beard, half-moon spectacles, and an extremely crooked nose. He was often described as the greatest wizard of the age.”  Harry Potter is also such a legendary wizard, specially marked, and charged with a unique and extraordinary destiny.

A Power of Imagination wizard is eccentric, slightly dreamy and live in a world of their own.  Although unassuming, these Character Types have enormous heart and bravery.  These kinds of wizards can see and hear things others don’t or simply miss.  Luna Lovegood is a great example:  “Oh, yes,” said Luna, “I’ve been able to see them (winged horses) ever since my first day here. They’ve always pulled the carriages. Don’t worry. You’re just as sane as I am.”

Each type of wizard looks at the role of magic through very different personal lens of Character Type. Resorting to an archetypal “wizard” too often leads to stereotypical behavior that is cliched. There is no one way to be a wizard just as there is no one way to be a cop, a nurse, a priest, a mother, or a fool. Each Character Type makes the role, the job, the archetype entirely his or her own.

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Vintage Cop Shows – Why Is The Cop On The Job?

Andy-Sipowicz-etbscreenwriting

I recently had a question from a reader about how different Character Types do the same job OR how the same Character Types might do a job differently.  This previous post answers both questions.  I love questions from readers.  Be sure to submit yours.

Three cop shows changed forever how police work is depicted on television. Each show was original and iconic in its own time. Each remains an example of emotional storytelling at peak intensity and engagement. Let’s look at Hill Street Blues, Homicide: Life on the Street and NYPD Blue and the lessons that can be drawn going forward.

Hill Street Blues redefined the cop/crime genre through intertwined partnerships that combined police officers’ stressful work lives with the conflicts in their private lives. Very few investigations or interrogations were ever featured on the show. Instead, each episode charted a “day in the life” of the precinct from the early-morning roll call to a late-night rehash of the day’s events. This recap was usually in the bedroom with lovers Captain Furillo and Public Defender Joyce Davenport. Hill Street Blues focused almost exclusively on the interpersonal relationships between the core cast members. The show also introduced a more “documentary” look and feel to the genre. Real-life personal issues and situations were explored in a raw and more explicit manner than previously depicted on earlier shows such as Columbo or Kojak. Real-life street slang was used throughout the program.

Homicide: Life on the Street exploded television racial stereotypes with multi-dimensional complex depictions of African Americans. The show was set in Baltimore, a predominately black American city. The storylines managed to cross racial barriers that were previously taboo on television. Homicide also broke many of television’s editing and narrative continuity rules. Jump cuts were numerous and unpredictable shifts in the narrative marked it as one of the most unconventional programs at that point in the genre. With a sharp unflinching honesty about race, prejudice and violence, the detective’s job is depicted as repetitive and emotionally draining. The show examined the enormous toll that policing took on individuals and on partnerships.

NYPD Blue was set against the backdrop of urban decay in New York City. Career cops were depicted as complicated, complex and often deeply flawed human beings. Although the show featured risky adult material, most of the stories were about families and the terrible emotional aftermath of violence. Less attention was paid to the crimes than how the crimes affected the relationships in the core cast. NYPD Blue was really about one man’s journey toward redemption. Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) began the show as a drunken abusive racist cop who is about to be thrown off the force (for good reason). Seventeen years later, he’s earned the top position in the precinct and, although still Andy, is fit to lead.

Each of these classic cop shows focused on the “Why” of the human cop story rather than the “How” of the crime story. That’s what made them successful. And that’s what separates these shows from the current generation of procedural cop shows like Law & Order (and all its varieties). But even in the Dick Wolf Law & Order universe, “Why” each person does the job is based on the individual’s very clear Character Type. For example: Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston), over many years on the show, still wrestles with the same questions of ethical principle vs. political expediency and law vs. justice. His “Why” is clearly driven by the Power of Conscience.

In a one-hour drama it is only possible to do one thing well– procedure or personal relationships. There isn’t time to do both well. There currently is lots of procedure on television. Perhaps it’s time for the pendulum to swing back to emotional personal relationships in cop shows.

Clear true emotions travel. They connect with the audience and move them week after week to watch a show. The definition of “to be entertained” is to feel something. In the classic cop shows discussed above, the mechanics of “How” a crime is solved is so much less important than “Why” the cops are doing what they are doing and “Why” they are affected by the job. If there is no “Why” it’s just cops going through the motions, which can make a story feel by-the-numbers and hollow.

The “Why” provides the passion and inter-personal conflict between the individuals in the story (and all the internal conflict within the character). Too often writers simply project their general idea of being a cop and the mechanics of “How” to put the cops through their paces— Instead of being specific about “Why” one particular individual is a cop.

There are four basic categories of “Why” anyone becomes a cop (or anything else for that matter):

1. It’s a job. Being a cop is solid union employment and a way to make a living or support a family. The cop does what is expected and punches out. The cop puts in the time and is concerned and responsible on the job. But he or she doesn’t take the job home and retires as soon as is feasible.

2. It’s a career. Being a cop is a good opportunity for advancement. The cop is working to achieve something else. The job is a means to an end (rising through the ranks, running for political office, becoming a consultant etc.) It is a stepping- stone to something else and worth the hard work and extra effort to achieve a larger goal.

3. It’s a vocation. Being a cop is a life mission or a higher calling. The cop is there to make a difference, have an important impact or change people’s lives. The work is a consuming passion for the cop. There is no dividing line between work and personal life. Work is the cop’s life.

4. It’s a mistake. Being a cop is not a good fit. The individual is a cop for the wrong reasons or the wrong motivations. Or the reality of the job doesn’t conform to the idea of the job or the fantasy of being a cop. In any case, the individual puts in the time and effort, got the job and now is trapped.

Any kind of employment, but particularly policing, has a variety of people who look at the “Why” of doing the job very differently. All individuals naturally assume their “Why” is the most valid reason or, if everyone else was honest, is the real motivation “Why” anyone works at the Station House or Precinct. This is a great opportunity for personal conflict in a story. Too often in cop shows (or shows featuring any profession) everyone is doing the job for the same reason. That isn’t the case in life and it shouldn’t be the case in your drama.

Layered onto “Why” someone is employed as a police officer (it’s a job, a career, a vocation or a mistake) is the “Why” of the individual’s Character Type. Looking down on nine different police officers toiling away long into the night it might be easy or convenient to believe they are all working hard for the same internal motivation or with the same value system and world view in mind. Every one of the Nine Character Types sees the world very differently, believes very different things about how the world works, and sees the primary role of a cop from a unique perspective.

1. Power of Conscience cops believe policing is a duty and a responsibility to make the world a better place. Doing the right thing is crucial to these kinds of cops. Their struggle is what is the higher duty or the most right—law or justice. (These two principles are not the same thing). Hill Street Blues‘ Joyce Davenport (Veronica Hamel) is this kind of character. Howard Hunter (James B. Sikking) is the comic version on the same show. Homicide’s Tim Bayliss (Kyle Secor) is also a Power of Conscience character. Rylan Givens (Timothy Oliphant) is a more recent example.

2. Power of Will cops believe policing is a matter of strength and the ability to dominate the situation. The use of power is crucial to these kinds of cops. Their struggle is what actually constitutes strength or power— excess or restraint. (Does compassion and tolerance make you stronger or weaker?) NYPD Blue’s Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) is this kind of character. A more recent example is Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) on The Shield.

3. Power of Ambition cops believe policing is a matter of winning or losing. Appealing to other’s self-interest is the way to get things done. Their struggle is with short cuts vs. the long hard patient slog—results or process. (If no one else plays by the rules why should they?) Hill Street Blues‘ John “JD” LaRue (Kiel Martin) is a Power of Ambition character. A more recent example is Lieutenant Cedric Daniels (Lance Reddick) on The Wire.

4. Power of Love cops believe policing is caring for others and helping them succeed. Compassion and understanding is crucial to how they get the job done. Their struggle is when to employ “tough love” or just give up on someone. (When does empathy or understanding simply enable bad or destructive behavior?) NYPD Blue’s Bobby Simone (Jimmy Smits) is this kind of character. Another example is Phil Esterhaus (Michael Conrad) on Hill Street Blues.

5. Power of Idealism cops believe policing is a matter of individual style and personal excellence. Use of unique talents and refusing to buckle under to stupid bureaucrats is crucial to their method of policing. Their struggle is how to maintain their individuality and still be part of a larger organization. (When does being a maverick or a rebel cause more harm than good?) Homicide’s Frank Pembleton (Andre Braugher) illustrates the Power of Idealism character as a cop.  A more example is Detective Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West) on The Wire.

6. Power of Reason cops believe policing is a matter of keeping personal self-control and maintaining the social order. Objectivity, expertise and a depth of knowledge are crucial to getting the job done. Their struggle is to connect with their own emotions. (When is objectivity actually alienation?) Dexter’s title character (Michael C. Hall) is one of the best recent examples of this kind of character on the police force. Monk’s title character (Tony Shalhoub) is the comedic example.

7. Power of Truth cops believe policing is a matter of uncovering secret agendas and avoiding hidden pitfalls. Establishing trust, knowing who your friends are and being attuned to conspiracies are crucial to getting the job done. Their struggle is to accept the ambiguity of the job and the possibility of never finding real certainty. (Is the “truth” a moving target or something fixed and certain?) Homicide’s conspiracy obsessed Steve Crosetti (Jon Polito) is this kind of character. Hill Street Blues’ loyal to the core Frank Furillo (Daniel J. Travanti) is another example.  Kurt Wallander (Kenneth Branagh) on the UK version of Wallendar is a more recent example.

8. Power of Imagination cops believe policing is a matter of listening to your instincts, following hunches and special intuitive clues. Often access to what others cannot see or hear or a quirky special kind of insight is crucial to doing their job. Their struggle is how to interpret their unusual intuition or how best to communicate it to others. (Do they take me seriously or do they think I’m crazy?) This kind of cop is rare on television. Hill Street Blues’ Michael (Mick) Belker (Bruce Weitz) is an uncouth ruffian version of the Power of Imagination character.  A more recent example is police consultant Allison DuBois (Patricia Arquette) in Medium.

9. Power of Excitement cops believe policing is an adventure and a thrill ride. Their charm, good-humor and ability to get themselves in and out of traps is crucial to how they do their job. Their struggle is in following orthodox rules when it is so much more interesting to play fast and loose, improvise and shoot from the hip. (Are we having fun yet?) Beverly Hills Cop’s Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) is the quintessential example of this character.

The “Why” of policing combined with Character Type creates a variety of complex and interesting individuals. It would be possible, for example, to create four very different Power of Conscience characters depending on whether they view policing as a job, as a career, as a vocation or as a mistake. Their values and their world views would not change but their attitudes would clash. For example: How these characters define their “higher duty” or what is the “most right” is hugely influenced by the reason they are on the job. Those different perspectives provide enormous potential conflict. Here is the breakdown:

1. A Power of Conscience cop who sees policing as a job would probably believe the higher duty is owed to family. This cop would follow the rules, be conscientious and not take the job home.

2. A Power of Conscience cop who sees policing as a career would probably believe the higher duty is owed to the organization or society. The higher the cop rises, the more effective the position becomes to do good and improve the larger situation. This cop would be relentless in seeking opportunities to advance a larger moral agenda.

3. A Power of Conscience cop who sees policing as a vocation probably believes the higher duty is owed to the victims of crime. This cop’s passion would be justice for the victims and punishment for the criminals. His or her personal life would be consumed by this life mission.

4. A Power of Conscience cop who see policing as a mistake would probably believe the higher duty is owed to one’s self. Policing can be a murky business where there often is no right answer and true justice is hard to find. This lack of clear-cut black and white or right and wrong would probably be an unbearable burden on this individual– giving rise to external moral outrage and internal guilt or self-loathing. How can I be good or worthy in a cesspool?

Creating an ensemble which clearly addresses “Why” the cop is on the job combined with Character Type provides an endless source of internal and external conflict. Making use of the full variety of human experience in specific combination creates memorable partnerships, unforgettable enemies and extraordinary individual characters.

What is Power?

51F7BV3TWPL._SL500_AA300_I was watching an interesting British mini-series, The Politician’s Wife, last weekend. The series is about a faithful political wife who supports her husband through an infidelity scandal. In this story, unlike The Good Wife, the protagonist exacts painful political revenge over the course of time.

In The Politician’s Wife, a bit of advice from one of her husband’s advisors (and a long time family friend) instructs her: “Power, real power, is invisible and therefore inviolable.”  That is a view of power from a Power of Will character.  Real power need not be seen it only need be felt.

What do other movie or television characters have to say about power:

In Schindler’s List Oskar Schindler tells Amon Goeth what he believes real power is:

Oskar Schindler: Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don’t.

Oskar Schindler: Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don’t.
Amon Goeth: You think that’s power?
Oskar Schindler: That’s what the Emperor said. A man steals something, he’s brought in before the Emperor, he throws himself down on the ground. He begs for his life, he knows he’s going to die. And the Emperor… pardons him. This worthless man, he lets him go.
Amon Goeth: I think you are drunk.
Oskar Schindler: That’s power, Amon. That is power.Oskar Schindler: Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don’t.

Amon Goeth: You think that’s power?

Oskar Schindler: That’s what the Emperor had. A man steals something, he’s brought in before the Emperor, he throws himself down on the ground. He begs for his life, he knows he’s going to die. And the Emperor… pardons him. This worthless man, he lets him go.

Amon Goeth: I think you are drunk.

Oskar Schindler: That’s power, Amon. That is power.

Power, real power, is mercy and pardon according to a Power of Conscience character.

In Death of A Salesman, Willie Loman tells his son what he believes real power is:

“The man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want.”

Power, real power, is popularity and personal magnetism according to a Power of Ambition character.

In Gladiator, Maximus tells his fellow soldiers what he believes is power: “What we do in life echoes in eternity.”

To a Power of Idealism Epic Hero power, real power, is honor and the memory of honor.

In Batman Forever, the Riddler flatters himself: “For if knowledge is power, then a God I am.”

To a Power of Reason Character power, real power, is intellectual superiority.

In The X Files, Fox Mulder says to Dana Scully:  “The truth will save you, Scully. I think it’ll save both of us.”

To  Power of Truth character power, real power, is the ability to discern the truth and reality from illusion.

What are your favorite movie quotes about power?  Let me know and I will tell what Character Type the protagonist is.

Monsters Inc. – Day Twenty Nine – #40movies40days

monsters_incMonsters Inc. is set in Monsteropolis and in its main energy supply company.  An assembly line of closet doors on the company’s “scaring floor” provide entry to the monsters to pop out, scare children and generate the screams that power Monsteropolis.

Protagonist, James P. Sullivan “Sully” (John Goodman) is a genial, lovable and caring big blue furry monster.  He is a Power of Love character and the top performer in the company, followed closely by  his main rival Randall Boggs (Steve Buscemi).  Sully’s manager/trainer is Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal).  He is a fast-talking  short green cyclops who is a publicity hound Power of Ambition character.  Mike basks in Sully’s reflected glory and assists Sully in his duties.

The problem in Monsteropolis is that children are becoming harder and harder to scare.  The joke is that the monsters are actually terrified by children. An elaborate containment routine is triggered when so much as a child’s sock enters their world.  Complete chaos ensues when a little girl, Boo, accidentally follows Sully back to Monsteropolis.  She isn’t afraid of Sully at all and calls him “kitty.”

936full-monsters,-inc.-photo.jpgAfter the initial shock, Sully immediately protects, hides and cares for the child.  Boo falls into the clutches of the Chairman of Monsters Inc., Henry J. Waternoose (James Coburn) and Randall Boggs in a plot to enslave children and forcibly extract their screams. Randall is a chameleon-like Power of Truth character.  He possesses the ability to change color in an sneaky stealthy shape-shifting way that truly terrifies Boo.

In uncovering the plot and rescuing Boo, Sully and Mike also discover that more power is generated by laughter than by fear.  Randall and Waternoose are exposed and defeated.  Monsters Inc. revamps its approach and generates even more power.  Mike finally graduates to having his own door and Sully reunites with Boo for a final tender good-bye.

This wonderful Pixar movie made me wonder what in my life is powered by fear.  It made me wonder what would happen if I turned off that switch and changed tactics, like Monsters Inc.  It’s my belief that any decision generated by fear is the wrong decision. Fear always speaks to the worst in us.  What leap of faith would I need to take to generate more power through joy? What would I need to change in my life to do that?

The Mating Season – Day Twenty Four – #40movies40days

g_the-mating-season-gene-tierney-john-lund-76c98The Mating Season is a good old fashioned Power of Love story in the best sense of the word.

Ellen McNulty (Thelma Ritter) is forced to sell her hamburger stand, so she decides to visit her son Val (John Lund), who lives in another city. Val has recently married a socialite, Maggie (Gene Tierney). To help her out, her husband hires a maid and promises to send her over right away. In the meantime, Ellen arrives. Maggie, her daughter-in-law, mistakes her for the maid. Ellen begins to tell Maggie who she really is, but she is worried that saying anything might cause Maggie embarrassment, so she doesn’t reveal who she is and decides to pretend to be a maid. The next morning Ellen arrives with her things. She wakes Maggie up and when she realizes that her son didn’t explain everything yet, she keeps pretending to be a maid. She tells him that she will only be underfoot if she lives in the house as a mother-in-law. She eventually talks him into the idea but he doesn’t like it very much.
Maggie’s mother (Miriam Hopkins) decides to come for a visit and she is nothing like Maggie. She is a snob and she doesn’t like Val one bit. While helping Mr. Kalinger (Larry Keating), Ellen realizes that his son, Kalinger Jr. (James Lorimer), is taking credit for work actually done by Val and tells Mr. Kalinger the truth.
Mr. Kalinger then invites Val and Maggie to the party. At the party, Maggie gets into an argument with an important female guest (Cora Witherspoon) after the woman insults her, and Maggie storms out. Val, realizing that this woman carries a lot of influence, forces Maggie to call the party to apologize to the woman. She does so unwillingly, leading to another fight.
The next morning, Val and Maggie make up and steal away in a closet for a kiss. Ellen’s friends are at the door and ask to speak to “Mrs. McNulty”. At this point it is revealed that Ellen is Val’s mother. Maggie is furious with Val for hiding his mother’s identity from her. She and her mother leave for a hotel. Maggie later confronts Val at his office. Val tries to explain himself but Maggie won’t listen. She tells him that he has become a snob and that she is moving to Mexico.
Mr. Kalinger decides to get Val and Maggie together. He convinces Maggie to come to the hotel bar with him for a good-bye drink, knowing that Val will be there for a party. When Maggie sees Val, she again scolds him for trying to hide his mother and leaves the bar. Val leaves the party and rushes to retrieve his mother. He brings her back to the party and begins introducing her to the ‘snobs’. Maggie, who has come back to the bar, witnesses Val introducing his mother to the woman who had insulted her at the earlier party. Ellen tells Maggie’s mother that it is time for both of them to leave the apartment. Ellen lands on her feet, however, as Mr. Kalinger decides to marry her.

Ellen McNulty (Thelma Ritter) runs a hamburger stand that’s underwater with the bank.  She can’t afford the payments and it’s not worth what she borrowed. (Some things never change.)

Her son, Val  (John Lund), has been asking Ellen to come live with him.  She hitchhikes from New Jersey to the Midwest, where her son has a good job in a large manufacturing company (some things have changed drastically).

Ellen’s son, Val, is an upwardly mobile junior executive (Power of Ambition) who has recently married Maggie (Gene Tierney). His new bride is not rich but grew up in the diplomatic corps and has very wealthy and important friends and political connections.

Val hires a maid to help Maggie with their first big dinner party. In the meantime, Ellen arrives unannounced. Maggie, her daughter-in-law, mistakes her for the maid. Ellen (Power of Love) wants to spare Maggie embarrassment, so she doesn’t reveal her true identity.  Instead, Ellen decides to make herself useful and to just go along pretending to be a maid.

137px-Thelma_Ritter_in_The_Mating_Season_trailerEllen convinces Val that she will only be underfoot if she lives in the house as a mother-in-law. She knows Maggie needs help as a young wife and convinces Val to continue the ruse.  Although Val loves his mother, there is something inside him that is deeply embarrassed about his humble beginnings and his unsophisticated mom.

Maggie’s drama queen mother (Miriam Hopkins) arrives for a visit. She is a (Power of Idealism) snob who doesn’t think Val is good enough for her daughter. She is more impressed with the boss’ son Kalinger Jr. (James Lorimer).  Jr. is a playboy and a cad (Power of Excitement), who is also in love with Maggie.  Jr. is also passing off Val’s hard work and ideas as his own.

During the negotiations of an important contact, Maggie (Power of Conscience) takes exception to the rudeness and  snobbery of the main client’s wife (Cora Witherspoon).  After confronting the woman, Maggie storms out of an important social outing surrounding the deal. Val, realizing that the client’s wife carries a lot of influence, forces Maggie to apologize. Maggie does so unwillingly, leading to another fight between the newlyweds.

Ellen skillfully intervenes in the angry aftermath. The young couple make-up with a romantic duck into the closet (the only place they can really be alone). Ellen’s friends arrive at the door unexpectedly and Ellen’s ruse is exposed.

matingMaggie is furious with Val for hiding his mother’s identity from her. She and her mother leave for a hotel. Maggie later confronts Val at his office. She tells him that he has become a snob and that she is leaving him and is moving out of the country.

Mr. Kalinger Sr., who has fallen for Ellen, arranges for Maggie to meet him at hotel bar for a good-bye drink. Val proudly introduces to Ellen to the important clients. Maggie sees how much Val loves his mother. Her heart melts.

Ellen tells Maggie’s mother that it is time for both of them to leave the newlyweds to themselves. Ellen lands on her feet as the fully smitten Mr. Kalinger Sr. asks her to marry him.

No matter how high you rise, nothing is as important as family, no matter how humble or unsophisticated. It’s a timeless lesson.

The China Syndrome – Day Nineteen – #40movies40days

China-Syndrome1-150x150The China Syndrome was released in March 1979 and less than two weeks later the Three Mile Island accident occurred.  Pictures and news reports were eerily similar to the film.  The problem at the actual nuclear plant was caused, much the same as in the film, by technical failure made worse by human error. I’d never seen The China Syndrome and decided to catch up with it after all the news reports of the escalating problems and potential nuclear catastrophe in Japan.

Jane Fonda (Klute, Julia) plays a television news reporter who is not taken very seriously until a routine story at the local nuclear power plant leads her to what may be a cover-up of epic proportions. She and her cameraman, played by Michael Douglas (Wall Street, American President), hook up with a whistleblower at the plant, played by Jack Lemmon (Save the Tiger, Missing). Together they try to uncover the dangers lurking beneath the nuclear reactor and avoid being silenced by the business interests behind the plant. Though topical, the film (produced by Douglas) works on its own as a socially conscious thriller that entertains even as it spurs its audience to think.
In the film, Jane Fonda plays an attractive Power of Ambition television reporter who has been hired mostly for her looks and pleasant manner on camera.  She reports on funny human interest stories, cute animal stories and other charming “local color” stories for a local television station.
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Fonda wants to advance her career, be taken seriously as a reporter and cover more substantive news but she believes the way to get along is to go along.   She’s not one to stand up to or antagonize her bosses.  Over the course of the story her backbone stiffens and she pursues an important story at the potential cost of her career.
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Michael Douglas is a Power of Truth freelance camera man.  He is a 60’s radical hardened into a 70’s skeptic.  He has no problem with being outspoken, even belligerent, and he is quick to dig deeper and take matters into his own hands against his bosses’ instruction.  He sees conspiracies and threats around every corner.  (Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.)
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When filming a puff piece on “energy in California” the two visit a nuclear power plant and are witnesses to some kind of accident.  It’s unclear exactly what happened and the company line is that it was a “potentially costly event that was swiftly contained.”  Reviewing the footage and the strength of the company’s reaction (and their strong-arming tactics with the television station) prompt Fonda and Douglas to believe a cover-up of epic proportions is underway.
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clipboar493594Fonda persuades Jack Lemon, a Power of Conscience whistleblower at the plant who was involved in the “event,”  to share his concerns and warnings.  This information would result in a shut-down costing the company multi-millions of dollars.  Further dastardly doings ensue as the company goes to the most extreme measures to contain the “radioactive” bad publicity that would shut the plant and “contaminate” their bid to build another nuclear plant in in the state.  The China Syndrome is a fast-paced socially conscious thriller that entertains and is surprisingly contemporary.
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Greed, fear and short-cuts are at the heart of a potentially epic disaster in the film.  On a much smaller scale I think some combination of those three things are at the heart of almost every self-inflicted human disaster.  It’s so easy to grab for more than you need, fear facing the truth and to try to take the easy way out.  Each of those things only make the situation worse.
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Energy conservation and thrifty sustainable living can be derided as dowdy, too austere and generally no fun.  But at its heart overconsumption is grabbing for more than you need, fear of facing the truth and trying to take the easy way out (and believing your actions will never catch up with you).  Yes, cold hearted corporations certainly are in for a nice big share of the blame in our current energy and economic problems– but am I taking enough responsibility myself?  Why should I expect them to give up their selfish self-centered ways if I am not willing to give up mine.  Gandhi famously said:  “Be the change you want to see.”

The Adjustment Bureau – Day Four – #40movies40 days

adjustment-bureau-movie1I chose The Adjustment Bureau as my next movie because it was a WGA screening and I was mildly curious about it.   I wasn’t particularly keen to see it because I thought it was another one of those– you never know what is real, or a dream, or a dream within a dream, or madness and the ending is ambiguous because you don’t know if something actually happened, or if someone dreamed it happened, or if it was a mad delusion that didn’t happen at all.  I know this kind of story is all the rage right now but it strikes me as exemplifying the difference between complex and complicated.

I love movies that are complex and morally ambiguous– movies that require me to figure out where I stand in a story where there are no clear answers and only hard questions.  I am liking less and less movies that are complicated and ambiguous in a way that is frustrating and requires me to puzzle out the logistics of a situation rather than consider the essential humanity (or inhumanity) of a character.

So I was worried The Adjustment Bureau was a movie in that complicated and logistically ambiguous zone.  In fact, that’s not the case at all.  Although the movie has many flaws, at it’s heart is a hard human question.  Before you read further PLEASE NOTE– SPOILERS below.

The story opens on David Norris (Matt Damon), a young charismatic politician who is losing an election because of a youthful college prank.  A photo resurfaces, makes headline news and destroys his narrow lead .  He retreats to the men’s room in the election night hotel headquarters to practice his concession speech.

Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) is hiding in the men’s room to escape the security guards who threw her out of a wedding she crashed.  Elise overhears David’s muttered speech and urges him to tell the truth instead of repeating the carefully parsed words provided by his pollsters.  The security guards give chase and Elise flees without telling David her name.  David goes on stage, begins delivering the same old speech, then throws away his notes and gives an honest ad hoc speech that launches his next Senate bid.

On his way to work, long after the election, David is supposed to be intercepted and delayed for ten minutes.  Instead, he meets Elise again on the bus.  They emotionally reconnect and she gives him her first name and telephone number.  The delay never happens and David arrives at work on time.

In the office, he witnesses someone being “adjusted.”  There are weird electron wands, men in futuristic Swat Team attire and other mysterious men in hats and somber grey suits.  David is shocked, runs and is chased down. A door in the top-floor office opens and suddenly he is in a locked underground parking garage.

When he is captured in the garage David learns about the adjustment bureau.  The non-human bureau (beings with special powers) keeps people and situations “on plan.”  This plan is created by the “chairman.” According to the plan, David was supposed to meet Elise once, be inspired to give his speech and then lose track of her.  Instead, by chance and administrative screw-up they reconnect.

the-adjustment-bureau-2010David is told he will win his next election and four more.  He may never mention the existence of the bureau to any one ever and he must forget about Elise. A bureau member destroys her phone number.  David tries to remember the number later.  Another bureau member appears and David is told that even if he does remember the number, his call will be dropped, the phone will be busy or the number will have changed.

David refuses to give up.  He rides the same bus route (where he met Elise) at the same time every day for three years.  He is constantly searching for her wherever his day takes him.  One day, he finally spots her walking along the sidewalk parallel to the bus route.  David jumps off the bus and tells her he was mugged, his wallet taken and her number was destroyed.  He’s tried Google and everything he could think of but couldn’t locate her.

It turns out Elise founded a small dance company and was engaged to her brilliant choreographer.  She broke off the engagement after she met David. The two are in love and believe they are meant to be together.  More chases and more revelations about the adjustment bureau ensue.

The story boils down to this– David is told he will be president and will be in a position to do much good, but only if he lets go of Elise.  Elise will become a famous dancer and an important choreographer, but only if she and David don’t reconnect.  If they stay together, she will wind up teaching dance to six year olds in a small studio somewhere.  By pursuing her, David will not just destroy his dreams but hers as well.  David leaves Elise in the hospital, where she is recovering from a sprained ankle.  David watched her dance and she fell (to prove the bureau’s point).

Fast forward, David is in the final leg of his flourishing Senate campaign.  He is so far ahead even he can’t screw up his lead.  Then David reads in the paper that Elise is set to marry her previous fiancee, the choreographer.   David abandons he campaign stop and rushes to Elise.

One of the bureau members takes pity on David and explains he was told a half truth.  David finds out that the death of his father and brother were orchestrated by the bureau to create an emptiness in him, a hole that David kept trying to fill by public applause and the warmth of the political limelight. The real reason the bureau wants to keep David and Elise apart is that if they have each other, they will have “enough.” Their emptiness will be filled and they won’t have to substitute the drive for material, political or artistic success for love.

The Adjustment BureauMuch has been written about who the Adjustment Bureau is– are they angels and is the “chariman” God?  Let’s look at what the bureau does–  it creates a hunger in people that can be directed to fulfill the bureau’s purpose.  The adjustment team dangles the promise of doing good in front of David when, in order to win, David goes back to his same campaign manger and presumably the same or better pollsters.  David is taught to be just authentic enough to convince people to vote for him.  A few good works will be buried in a mountain of compromises.  The bureau dangles the promise of fame to Elise but the price is an unhappy loveless marriage.  (The fiancee loves her but she is deeply unhappy about marrying him).  That sounds very much like the “glamor of evil.”

The bureau uses a time-proven strategy fueled by fear– fear of not having enough, not being enough or not leaving enough of a legacy. It tries to convince David that political power (even though he knows he is the bureau’s puppet) is worth more than love.  It argues that teaching dance to six year olds is a failure and is too high a cost to pay for love and commitment.   The bureau fears a love that is so strong and so fulfilling that it is “enough.”  They cannot allow a love that is so satisfying that it leaves no desperate hunger left to fill.  The bureau offers the choice between love and fear.

How much is “enough” for me? How much is contentment, gratitude and balance worth in my life?  How fast do I have to run?  What would happen if I slowed down?  Am I fueled by fear- not having enough, not being enough, not leaving enough behind?  Or am I fueled by love– being with the people I love and doing only those projects I love?

It’s strange how all four of these randomly selected movies, movies I didn’t know all that much about, all seem to have something profound to say about this Lenten journey.

DAY ONE – RANGO – IS HERE

DAY TWO – DOGTOOTH – IS HERE

DAY THREE – THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW – IS HERE

In my view of things The Adjustment Bureau is a Power of Ambition movie.  As such it asks the question:  What is the meaning of success?  Outward trappings, prestige, position, popularity, status and worldly achievement?  Or real relationships, authenticity and honest self-assessment?

Rango and My Own Lenten Observance – #40movies40days

blue-eyes-1I dodged a couple of potentially catastrophic bullets very recently.  I’ve had a droopy eye lid for a while now.  It’s gotten to the point that when I am tired, it’s hard to read– My eye lid sags, causes eye strain and makes me feel very sleepy.  Reading at night is the worst.

After returning from my most recent trip to Europe, I went to the eye doctor.  I thought I had a bit of a muscle tone problem and it would be mendable with a small nip and tuck– and while I was under the knife– maybe I would just do a few other small tweaks as well.  Win win.

Instead, I was diagnosed with Horner’s Syndrome.  I was informed there are four possible causes of Horner’s– shingles (which I did have but in the wrong place to be a factor) brain tumor, brain aneurism or lung cancer.  Each option was more horrific than the next.  It took a month (over 30 days) of waiting to get the MIR appointments and neurology appointments that I needed to hear the answer.

The good news was I was given the all clear on all fronts.  The doctors said that sometimes the reason for Horner’s is not discoverable.  But it is a neurological weakening of the eye lid muscles. I can get the nip and tuck when my insurance company approves, so perhaps this is a tweakable situation yet.

ash-wednesday11Cut to– Yesterday, on Ash Wednesday, the Lenten season started.  Ash Wednesday is a day to remember “you are dust and unto dust you shall return” (a quote from the book of Genesis).   The fleeting nature of life is something that hits uncomfortably close to home given my recent reprieve.

Lent is a period of time (40 days) of reflection, discernment and renewal.  It ends on the glorious miracle of Easter Sunday–  If you believe in the Resurrection.  Or it ends with the more secular egg hunt and Easter basket goodies, if you are a general holiday celebrator.  The egg is a long-time pagan symbol of new life so we still are tapping into the renewal thing with Easter eggs.

Every religion or cultural tradition has a period of annual inward looking, contemplation and sense of starting over or symbolic rebrith.  It’s important at times to stop, whatever our belief system, and ask– what are we doing? Are we just living by rote or routine?  And “is this what I want out of my life or am I who I want to be”?

One of the reasons people “give things up” during Lent is to take themselves out of their comfort zones.  People often choose giving up chocolate, smoking, sweets, drinking, mindless television-watching, etc. to break those habits (for a time) that are self-indulgent, self-destructive or that keep us in an anesthetized state.  Lent is supposed to move us out of the rote and routine of our lives and challenge us to look at ourselves anew.

rangoSo what does all this have to do with Rango (the first full-length ILM animated movie)?  Give me a moment to set things up before I move in for the personal payoff.

Rango is the story of a chameleon who, during a car accident, falls out of a family vehicle and escapes when his glass habitat shatters on the asphalt.   He is stranded in the desert somewhere between Nowhere and Las Vegas.

Although the film has much to recommend it– wonderfully detailed animation, unusual and odd character choices (moth-eaten, flea-bitten, broken-down and patched up every one), a fully realized visual world and inventive set pieces that are fast, furious and funny– these great elements just don’t add up to much. On first viewing there is so much visual cleverness, so many movie send-ups and western spoofs going on it’s easy not to notice the story is a mess and the characters are very poorly defined.

Here’s how Lisa Schwarzbaum put it in Entertainment Weekly

Rango takes a long time finding a story line to stick with. First the lizard, liberated from domestication by humans, gets a crash course in outdoor life skills. (In the desert, blend in!) He staggers into a dusty town called Dirt and decides to reinvent himself as a gunslinging hero. (In town, stand out!) After being rewarded for inadvertent acts of bravery as town sheriff, he decides that being a hero is too hard. Then he changes his mind and sticks to his, er, gun. (Actually, a single bullet)

This isn’t a movie that will hold up well after repeated viewing.  Rango, the character, can’t seem to make up his mind whether he is a Power of Ambition character (boasting, bragging and pretending to be something he’s not because he feels like a fraud or a fake inside) or a Power of Idealism character (a unique and extraordinary creature who is trying to figure out how he can maintain his individuality AND be part of or fit into a community AND be true to his special destiny.)

Everything and the kitchen sink is thrown into the movie– parts of Chinatown are graphed onto High Noon with side excursions into The Man with No Name.  But nothing adds up, makes sense or has a deeper emotional meaning, relevance or resonance.

Beans, the female lead iguana, tells us she is worried about losing her daddy’s farm but we never see the land or her personal connection to it.  Someone is dumping water but we never find out why or for what specific purpose, unlike in Chinatown.  The actual answer to the problem in the film is not water dumping but a shut off water valve that someone closed.  There is no narrative coherence anywhere.  There is lots of action and very little heart.

Here is how Ty Burr puts it, writing The Boston Globe:

Just as often, though, everyone mills around waiting for the story to go somewhere. “Rango’’ wants to send up every sagebrush cliche it can, but the screenplay just piles those cliches on top of each other and waits for alchemy to happen. The director is Gore Verbinski, the mastermind of the “Pirates of the Caribbean’’ franchise, and like those movies, “Rango’’ is a highly watchable but somewhat frustrating mix of sloppy plotting, rascally attitude, and Big Action.
It’s a fun movie and a noisy one, but not the great work of family-friendly gonzo this particular crew could have created with just a little more focus. Back to your workstations, boys, and let’s see what else you’ve got.

(E)veryone mills around waiting for the story to go somewhere. “Rango’’ wants to send up every sagebrush cliche it can, but the screenplay just piles those cliches on top of each other and waits for alchemy to happen.

The director is Gore Verbinski, the mastermind of the “Pirates of the Caribbean’’ franchise, and like those movies, “Rango’’ is a highly watchable but somewhat frustrating mix of sloppy plotting, rascally attitude, and Big Action. (IMO those movies go nowhere either)

It’s a fun movie and a noisy one, but not the great work of family-friendly gonzo (filmmaking that) this particular crew could have created with just a little more focus. Back to your workstations, boys, and let’s see what else you’ve got.

Okay so here’s the personal Lenten observation part.

Like this film, my life is filled with a steady stream of creative and inventive action sequences.  I have a bunch of projects and lots of other things going at full blast.

What are they adding up to?  Do they have a strong narrative through-line that is clearly defining who I want to be and how I want to live my life?  Is my focus clear enough or am I just addicted to the frantic activity?   Do I just mill around between action sequences waiting for the story to go somewhere?  What is all this activity in service of.  Food for thought for 40 days.

So what am I going to do about it?  I’ve decided to watch 40 films in 40 days and write about them from a personal standpoint as I puzzle through how I want to be reborn on Easter morning.  It will be a journey of looking at my life through the lens of movies– some contemporary and some old school– I hope you will join me.

Rather than just write about Character Types and story construction I want to look at my own life and how I am constructing my own story.  Do you ever want to take a step back and ask yourself– just what is most important and how do my choices define me?  Do you ever wonder what your frantic activity adds up to in the end?

Okay, I know this just sounds like piling on more activity but I am also committed to quitting work at 5PM for 40 days and giving myself time to think about the larger narrative arc of the time (hopefully lots and lots) that I have left.  I am going to do a better job of prioritizing and putting the larger purpose of my life first.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on all this and about the questions you struggle with in your own life as you move from project to project.  Comment here or on my ETB FaceBook Page.   #40movies40days

NFL Leadership Styles – Can You Help?

Sometimes it is really useful to look at the Character Types of real people to see how what they do or say defines them.  The SuperBowl and the magnificent victory by Green Bay and their young quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a great example to start off with.

I’d like to type all the major players in the NFL in terms of their leadership styles.  I’m looking for some help here– with quotations or a link to a video as an illustrations.  I did a similar article on Celebrity Chefs on TV and how their cooking and food presenting style reflected their Character Type  Can you help fill out the NFL roster and comment on your favorite players?  Interview or commentary links or player quotes are really useful as illustrations.  See the leadership definitions below.

aaron-rodgersPOWER OF CONSCIENCE

Let’s start with Aaron Rodgers as a Power of Conscience leader.  Notice in his David Letterman interview below he talks about leading by example.  That is what the best Power of Conscience characters do.  He also talks about responsibility, duty, preparation, practicing hard and putting in the time to do the job well. That doesn’t mean he isn’t passionate about the game or inspirational– it just means that those qualities are not the primary attributes of leadership to him.

The Power of Conscience character leads by showing fairness, firmness, consistency, justice and providing a good example.  They believe the rule of law is humankind’s salvation.
The best Power of Conscience leaders are “servant leaders” who have  the humility to serve the greater good of others. Power of Conscience leaders teach their followers to be of service themselves.

The Power of Conscience character leads by showing fairness, firmness, consistency and providing a good example.   The best Power of Conscience leaders are “servant leaders” who have  the humility to serve the greater good of others. Power of Conscience leaders teach their followers to be of service themselves.

Here is Aaron Rodgers on leadership in his own words.

Dandy Dozen Movies FootballPOWER OF IDEALISM

Power of Idealism leaders are passionate and emotional leaders. They are inspiring and challenge their followers to give their all to a glorious cause.  They create a sense of special destiny and often link their mission to the grand heroism  or glories of the past.  These characters lead their followers into a lost cause or an impossible battle.  They know the odds are grim and victory is improbable but they charge in anyway.  What they are after is valor, honor and a grand and glorious legacy—the kind of immortality to inspire others in story, song or legend.  Who in the NFL leads in this way?

The player who comes to my mind is George Gipp.  In the film, Knute Rockne All American, Knute quotes George like this:

Knute Rockne: Now I’m going to tell you something I’ve kept to myself for years. None of you ever knew George Gipp. He was long before your time, but you all know what a tradition he is at Notre Dame. And the last thing he said to me, “Rock,” he said, “sometime when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they’ve got and win just one for the Gipper. I don’t know where I’ll be then, Rock,” he said, “but I’ll know about it and I’ll be happy.”

POWER OF REASON

Power of Reason characters are more loners than leaders.  When they are  put in charge (or they take charge) they use their intelligence, expertise, knowledge and technical skills to lead (or sometimes to dominate) others.  They are most comfortable as experts or technicians.

These characters are not very skilled at interpersonal relationships.  They don’t naturally engage or charismatically inspire others.  They usually don’t like the genial chit-chat of team banter and camaraderie. Instead, these characters  attract followers with their problem-solving abilities, technical ability, specialized experience or practical know-how.

When Power of Reason characters want to take command they argue that they are the most experienced or qualified to lead.  They argue that they are in fact the intellectually or skills-based superior choice.  Who in the NFL leads like this?

imagesPOWER OF AMBITION

Power of Ambition characters are most often potential leaders, protégés and young, upwardly mobile strivers.  They are impatient, high-energy individuals who want to get things done and who put a very high premium on accomplishment (right now!).  They are often willing to take short cuts and cut corners to get ahead.  They value fame, popularity and status.

These characters think well on their feet and are flexible and adaptable in a crisis.  They can talk themselves into or out of any situation.  When it serves their purpose they can fit in, with an almost chameleon-like ability, in any situation.  They can be witty, engaging, amusing and “great in the interview room.”  They are very charming and personable, if rather boasters and braggers.

The fictional player who fits this type is Brian “Smash” Williams’s (Gaius Charles) on Friday Night Lights.  He is talented, arrogant and likes taking short cuts and avoiding hard questions.

Smash Williams: Takin’ it like a man, Matty. You know, avoiding the calls, ducking out, hidin’ in the bushes.

images-1POWER OF WILL

Power of Will characters bring many wonderful leadership qualities to the NFL community.  They are decisive and authoritative.  Others naturally look to them to them to take charge.  They are strong, bold and  forceful leaders.  These characters stand out from the crowd with a commanding presence.   Their philosophy is “win or die.”  They see the world as a battlefield where only the strong survive.

Power of Will characters motivate others through the sheer force of their personality and their innate toughness and charisma. They are big dynamic characters who can “fill up a room.” Each wonderful quality of Power of WIll leadership has a set of corresponding Trouble Traits.  Decisiveness becomes rashness when a leader fails to delay action long enough to fully consider the consequences of an action or doesn’t have the patience to listen to others.  Leadership that is unilateral and absolute or will not permit dissent easily slips into dictatorial megalomania and colossal paranoia.  Who in the NFL leads like this?

The person who comes to mind first for me is iconic Green Bay Coach, Vince Lombardi, who famously said:  “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” He was a big larger than life leader who had incredible force of will.

POWER OF EXCITEMENT

Power of Excitement leaders make everything fun and can recast anything as a amusing game.  Their boyish charm and charisma can make them natural leaders. People gravitate toward these characters and follow them quite joyfully, rather like children who follow the lively, captivating music of the Pied Piper.  They have lots of natural or innate talent but often lack the discipline and drive to excel under difficult circumstances.

Power of Excitement characters rarely are happy in a leadership position.  They do not like the responsibility, follow-up and attention to detail that real leadership requires.  If it’s not interesting, amusing or enjoyable these characters get bored, don’t show up or make a quick exit.  Power of Excitement characters excel at  instigating and finding interesting opportunities, but don’t always count on them to bring any crucial item in on schedule.  Is there anyone in the NFL like this?

POWER OF LOVE

Power of Love leaders rarely like to be out in front in a take charge position.  They prefer to exercise their control as the “power behind the throne”.  Power of Love characters usually “lead” in supportive roles.  They are great mentors and excel at providing encouragement and emotional support.

Power of Love characters view leadership as serving others, being of practical use and creating the sense they are indispensable.  These characters get real satisfaction from pushing others forward and seeing them do well.  They tend to bond with individuals more strongly than the team as a whole.  Who in the NFL leads like this?

POWER OF IMAGINATION

Power of Imagination leaders are able to sense the deep internal connections that bind and unify all of us.  They lead by bringing together and inspiring others to see this bigger picture, this sense of common purpose or a larger universal mission.  At first glance, these assembled individuals might seem to be contentious or have little or nothing in common.

Power of Imagination  characters inspire united action by convincing disparate individuals that:  “We’re all in this together” and “If we work together we will all achieve something important or worthwhile.”  They are often gentle, shy or unassuming individuals who are the glue that holds a team together.  Who in the NFL leads like this?

favre vikingsPOWER OF TRUTH

Power of Truth characters often use an initial affable and friendly approach to solving problems, pursuing goals and leading others.  These characters don’t tend to be natural leaders. They don’t generally gravitate toward the front of the group.  They tend to be too suspicious, anxious, self-doubting and second-guessing to expose themselves to the front and center scrutiny of others.

Brett Favre is this kind of leader.  I wrote an analysis of him in an earlier post.  Power of Truth characters value loyalty and commitment very highly, but they can be very unsettled and indecisive. They can become self-doubting and suspicious to the point of paralysis.  At that point, they no longer trust their own instincts.

Brett’s is legendary for his retirement indecisiveness. In their darkest moments, these characters worry that they can’t believe anyone or anything.  They suspect everyone is lying to them and every situation is not what it seems.  They constantly look for little clues to confirm their doubts, suspicions and anxieties.  These characters continually test and probe when operating out of fear. They insist others constantly prove themselves.  They try to read the secret meaning in, or second-guess every move, every action and every decision made by others.

I’d love to fill out these profiles in leadership with your favorite NFL nominees.  It’s most useful if you have quotes or links to interviews or commentary that backs up your choices.  Please comment below or on my FaceBook ETB Page.  Please share it with your football-loving friends so we can get a dialog going.

Tony Curtis & The Power of Ambition

Sidney Falco in 21Tony Curtis passed away at the end of September 2010.  Here is what Time Magazine has to say about one of the roles that defined him as an actor, Sidney Falco in The Sweet Smell of Success.  It is a stunning example of a Power of Ambition protagonist falling to the Dark Side.

(In the film) Sidney Falco, Broadway publicist, is telling his secretary Sam how far he wants his ambitions to take him: “Way up high, Sam, where it’s always balmy. Where no one snaps his fingers and says, ‘Hey, Shrimp, rack the balls!’ Or, ‘Hey, mouse, mouse, go out and buy me a pack of butts.’ I don’t want tips from the kitty. I’m in the big game with the big players. My experience I can give you in a nutshell, and I didn’t dream it in a dream, either. Dog Eat Dog. In brief, from now on, the best of everything is good enough for me.”

An actor doesn’t often get a role that upends his Hollywood image and reveals his inner demons. Tony Curtis, who died Wednesday at 85 of cardiac arrest at his home near Las Vegas, found that dream-nightmare part in the 1957 Sweet Smell of Success. Sidney Falco, a name that replaced Sammy Glick as the slick nogoodnik par excellence, is a pretty boy on the make — all hustle, no morals, and with a line of patter like petty larceny…

…Another refugee from the New York streets, and one of the first postwar actors to produce his own movies, (Burt) Lancaster … cast him in Sweet Smell as Sidney, the publicist trying to get his clients’ items in the gossip column written by Lancaster’s J.J. Hunsecker.

In the script, by Ernest Lehman and Clifford Odets, Sidney’s status floats between villain and victim — he peddles flesh and secrets, and pins the Commie label on an innocent young musician, before getting climactically framed by J.J. — but (actor) Curtis was the victor in the movie. It’s easy to imagine that, that when the actor first read this script, he thought exultantly, “That’s me all over!” A shark in the Broadway aquarium, Sidney looked like a million bucks, all counterfeit.  FULL ARTICLE HERE

A character driven by the Power of Ambition can be a hardworking, eager, charming optimist with a “can-do” spirit— or a lying, manipulative, backstabbing striver who will do anything to get ahead in life.

The definition and meaning of “success” is at the heart of a Power of Ambition character’s story.  The basic question for this character’s emotional journey is: “What does it profit a person to win the whole world but lose his or her own soul?”

That what we watch Sidney Falco do, lose his soul, over the course of The Sweet Smell of Success.  It is a film well worth watching and a master course in the Power of Ambition Character Type.