10 Most Successful Movie Themes, Story Types, Plot Types & Genres

Before we can talk about the best movie themes in film, we have to understand what theme exactly is.

In the dictionary:

Theme – an idea that recurs in or pervades a work of art or literature.

So, for example, The Notebook has several themes, which films can and do have, but its main theme is, love.

Love is such a big theme that we’ll jump right into our list.


Love

While we are giving you the most successful themes in movies, we are not ranking them on their importance. As you’ll see, most standout films have more than one theme.

If you’ve ever watched a film you’ll have noticed that 100% had loved as one of its themes. Think about it? There’s always a love storyline in any film. Go ahead, try and think of a film that doesn’t have a love storyline?

Can’t do it, can you? 

Love, a great theme to write about and needed to be on our list for sure. The Love Story is one of the most popular themes in movies. This is because love is the most universal emotion and love stories can touch people from all walks of life.

There are two types of love stories. One is the romantic love story and the other is the platonic love story.

Romantic Love Story

A romantic love story is a story about two people who fall in love with each other. In the platonic love story, two people fall in love with each other, but they don’t end up together. The theme of love in movies is very broad.

In fact, it can be a theme for a film on many different levels. For example, if your character falls in love with his ex-girlfriend, then it’s not a romantic love story. However, if he gets back together with her after they broke up, then this is a romantic love story.

Love at First Sight

If your screenplay revolves around a couple who fall in love with each other at first sight, then this is a romantic love story. However, if you want to create an unexpected romantic love story, then it’s better to avoid using the phrase “love at first sight” in your screenplay. It might sound too cliché.

Platonic Love Story

However, if it’s a romantic comedy, then it is a platonic love story. When writing your screenplay, you need to understand that the love theme is the most important one you have to think about. It’s the heart and soul of your story and it will be the reason why your audience comes back to watch it again and again.

Go to Genre: Romance


Fear

One of the most popular film genres is horror, and in horror, there is a ton of fear themes. If you’re writing a scary move and don’t incorporate fear, then you haven’t written a horror film at all, you’ve written a boring drama.

Horror is more than just a bunch of jump scares and gore. It has to be based on fear, otherwise it isn’t really horror at all. Fear is the basis of horror, and that means that there has to be some form of fear in every horror movie. So what is fear?

Fear can be described as a feeling of impending doom or danger. It’s the idea that something bad is about to happen. It’s not just about the idea of death, it’s also about the idea of getting hurt.

There are several types of fear, and they each serve a different purpose. The first type of fear is physical fear. This is when you have a real threat of bodily harm, like being attacked by a killer or having your house burned down.

There’s nothing scarier than thinking that you’re going to be hurt, and it will cause your body to tense up and your heart rate to increase. Next is emotional fear. This is the fear of something that is scary, but it’s not as immediate. It’s more about the feeling of dread, like being scared of something that is out of your control.


A great example of this is watching horror movies, which are designed to give you a sense of dread.

The third type of fear is situational fear, which means that you’re afraid of something that you can’t do anything about. This could be something as simple as the fact that you don’t know what’s around the corner. The best horror movies always incorporate some form of all three types of fear.

If you have only one type of fear in a movie, then it won’t be scary, it will just be boring. You have to have at least some form of physical fear in a horror film. This is because without a threat of bodily harm, there isn’t going to be any tension. There has to be some kind of emotional fear in a horror movie. Otherwise, there will be no sense of dread.

This is because if you don’t have any danger, then the story will never end. Fear can be incorporated into many different ways in a horror film. You can use fear to make a character scared, you can scare the audience, or you can just scare the hell out of them. In a horror movie, you have to scare people. That’s how you get the audience to feel afraid and want to watch more.

A good way to incorporate fear into your script is through the use of suspense. A lot of people think that a horror movie is only scary because of the gore, but this isn’t true. Horror movies are scary because of the use of suspense. This is when there is an element of surprise in a situation that the characters are in.

Go to Genre: Horror and Thrillers

Good Vs Evil

Do we even have to explain this one? Any superhero film that you have ever seen falls into this theming. Even films like the Lord of the Ring series is all about Good vs. Evil.

Good and evil are two of the most used psychological concepts in movies and TV shows. There’s a reason for it: they’re extremely easy to understand and apply, and they’re very powerful ways to help us emotionally process information we might otherwise not take into account.

The good guys are the ones who save the world and help people, while the bad guys are the ones who want to destroy the world and hurt people. In real life, however, good and evil isn’t as cut-and-dried as in a Hollywood blockbuster.

In reality, it’s a matter of perspective. Some people might be more compassionate, and others may not. And just because someone is the good guy today doesn’t mean they will be the bad guy tomorrow.

We may see a movie or TV show where a character does something we don’t agree with, but it doesn’t make us want to condemn him or her. Why not? Because of the way emotions operate in our minds.

It’s a question many of us have wondered, at least in our childhood years. The answer is simple: it all depends on what you believe in. When we grow up, we often develop a philosophy about how the world works and what values are important. As such, we also develop beliefs about what is good and evil.

But it doesn’t have to just be used in films with massive battles and explosions.

Take a look at a comedy like Due Date. Robert Downey Jr. can be considered the good guy as he’s our main character just trying to get home before his wife gives birth to their first child.

Zach Galifianakis can be seen as the evil character, seemingly sabotaging our protagonist throughout the film, until this theme slowly disappears as the two characters become friends.

Go To Genre: Action and Superhero/Comic Book Films

Death

We’re all going to die someday. That can be a very scary thing for some and a calming thing to understand for others. Death is a major part of life so its obvious that it would be a major theme used in all sorts of films.

Usually, in high stakes type of films, death is the danger of pushing our characters into action.

A film like Inception, by Christopher Nolan, can have amazing visuals and imaginative plot points, but at the end of the day, one of the major themes in the film is death.

Inception shows us what happens when we die, and it’s a haunting and fascinating concept to think about. The film asks questions about how we go on living after we die, and how we could be brought back to life.

Inception shows us how our consciousness continues on after we die, and it makes us consider if we really want to continue living after we die. We have an interesting choice to make, whether we want to go on living or not. I’ve always wondered if we go on living after we die, but I never thought about what it would be like to die.

Sometimes, though, death is not just an obstacle to overcome but also a major plot point that can lead to a resolution. Sometimes, death is a necessary part of the story.

Death is the end of one thing, or the beginning of something else. In film, death is used as a plot device in many different ways. It can be used as a way to help the audience understand the characters or as a way to help the characters understand themselves. A character can die in a movie, or they can die multiple times.

They can even die before the story begins, or they can die after the movie ends. If we look at the films listed below, we can see how death is used to make a point.

Here are some of cinema’s greatest character are developed by using death.

Fight Club – Death is used by Tyler Durden to help him understand himself and his purpose in life. His death helps him realize that he needs to change and to become the person he was meant to be.

Memento – Death is used in this film to help the main character, Leonard Shelby, understand his own identity.

Casino Royale – Death is used in this movie to help the main character, James Bond, understand his own identity. He learns that his life isn’t defined by what he has done, but by who he is.

The Dark Knight – Death is used by Harvey Dent to help him understand himself and his purpose in life. His death helps him realize that he needs to change and to become the person he was meant to be.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Death is used in this film to help the main character, Lisbeth Salander, understand her own identity. She learns that her life isn’t defined by what she has done, but by who she is.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Death is used in this film to help the main character, Frodo, understand his own identity. He learns that his life isn’t defined by what he has done, but by who he is. Death is used in this movie to help the main character, Aragorn, understand his own identity. He learns that his life isn’t defined by what he has done, but by who he is.

The Top Death Movies

Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now is about a United States soldier named Captain Willard. He is in Vietnam at the time, and he is about to be promoted to Sergeant. He is also having problems with the men under his command. He gets into a fight with them, and he ends up shooting the man who was leading the fight. The other men try to kill him, but they cannot.

They eventually bring him to a medic, and he is sent home. As he is on his way home, he is shot by another soldier. Willard ends up in the hospital for three days, and he then dies. When Willard dies, it is a turning point in the story because the movie has now become about Willard’s journey to find out what he really wants from life.


A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street is about a girl named Nancy who is a high school student. She has a crush on a boy named Johnny, and she spends most of her time at his house. One night, she is watching television with Johnny and his parents when the television turns on by itself. It shows an old woman, and she says, “What is your name?” She then tells them to leave the room.

Nancy and Johnny are trapped in the room with the woman, and she tells them that they will die if they do not get into bed with her. She then starts killing them. She kills Johnny first, and then she kills Nancy. The girl’s parents find her dead, and they think that she committed suicide. The girl’s mother is so upset that she goes to the police to report what happened.


Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver is about a taxi driver named Travis Bickle. He lives in New York City, and he is having problems dealing with his past. He is a Vietnam veteran who was dishonorably discharged from the military, and he is obsessed with the death of his girlfriend. The main theme of the movie is what it means to be human.

We see that the most human thing is to love someone and to be loved. When Travis meets Iris, he falls in love with her. This causes him to become very violent. He kills his friend, and he tries to kill a man he sees with his girlfriend.

As he gets more and more involved with his job as a taxi driver, he starts to get obsessed with the idea of killing. When Travis is talking with his psychiatrist, he realizes that he needs to get help for his problems.


Blade Runner

Blade Runner is about an android named Rick Deckard. He has been assigned to track down four escaped androids named Roy Batty, Pris, Zhora, and Zhora. He is trying to determine if they are really human, or if they are just machines. He has to track them down and determine their fate. This movie is about how we deal with death.

We see that humans have the power to destroy themselves. We also see that death is not the end. The main theme of the movie is the idea of how we live in this world. Humans have the power to destroy themselves, but they can also overcome anything.


The Shining

The Shining is about a writer named Jack Torrance who has been living with his family for many years in the Overlook Hotel. Jack is an alcoholic, and he has been working on a book about the hotel called “The Overlook” for many years. One day, Jack’s wife and son decide to leave for the day, and Jack gets drunk.

When Jack goes to check on his son, he is not able to find him, and he hears some noises coming from his son’s room. He goes in to see what is going on, and he finds his son dead in his bed. Jack is unable to deal with this tragedy, and he kills his son and then himself.

Jack Torrance is the first character that we see die in the film, but it is actually Jack Nicholson who dies. This was a way to show how Jack had completely lost control of his life and how he was not able to stop himself from killing his own son. In the end, Jack is the only one who can stop himself from killing his family.


American Beauty

American Beauty is about a man named Lester Burnham. He lives in the suburbs with his wife and daughter. He is a successful businessman, but he is bored and unhappy with his life. One day, he goes to a local bar and sees his neighbor having an affair with his wife.

Lester goes home and tells his wife that she is an adulterer, and that he doesn’t want to live with her anymore. His wife and daughter leave the house and go back to their apartment.

Meanwhile, Lester’s father is dying of cancer.  Lester takes his father to a doctor for treatment, but the doctor says that it’s too late for treatment. He explains that the cancer has spread all over his body and that he only has a few weeks left to live. Lester spends the last days of his father’s life with him, and they talk about life and death.

The end of the movie shows Lester, his wife, and his daughter sitting in a car listening to the radio. Lester turns off the radio, and he starts crying.  Lester then looks at his daughter and says, “I’m sorry, honey. I just don’t know how to quit you.”  The next scene shows Lester walking into his house.


The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects is a great movie. But what makes it so great is that it features many great characters. One of them is Keyser Soze, who is one of the main villains in the film. He has died several times throughout the film. We can see this in the trailer for the movie: We can also see this in the actual movie: What is interesting about these deaths are the different ways they happen.

In the trailer, we see him die in a way that is very dramatic and shocking. In the movie, we see him die in a way that is very funny and surprising. In the trailer, he dies with a gun in his hand. In the movie, he is shot by an innocent bystander.

This was a great way to make him die. It was shocking and it made us question if he really was Keyser Soze. It was also funny because it was unexpected. It would not have been shocking if he had died in the same way that we saw in the trailer.


Go To Genre: Horror, Action, and Adventure

Revenge

Who doesn’t like to watch a film about someone getting their comeuppance? A revenge story is usually told through the eyes of a protagonist who finds out some bad news and reacts by taking action to make things right.

Films like Gladiator, Kill Bill: Vols 1 & 2, even Mean Girls, are all about our main protagonist getting revenge (justice) for what has been done wrong to them or someone close to our character’s heart.

Examples of revenge stories include the plot of The Godfather, the film about a family that avenges the death of its patriarch by murdering his killers; the plot of Reservoir Dogs, the Quentin Tarantino film about a group of criminals who plan to kill a member of their own crew for stealing from them.

This popular theme allows us the viewer (and yes, the screenwriter) to see things come to life that we wish we could do in our own lives but understand such things would most likely have us in jail, for life, with no chance of parole.

In the case of the “revenge movie,” the protagonist seeks retribution by taking out the perpetrator’s life. Typically, the protagonist is motivated by a sense of justice or morality. Revenge stories can also be used to promote a product or service—in which case they are often marketed as “my way or the highway.”

Everyone loves to see someone get what they deserve, and that’s why Revenge makes for a great movie theme.

We will take a look at how a revenge story can be told and how it can be used as a theme for your screenplay. Revenge is the most common and popular theme in movies. It’s also the most difficult one to write. Why is that? Because there are so many rules and regulations we must follow to make sure our revenge plot is done properly.

And if you don’t follow all those rules, then you risk ruining the entire revenge plot. I’ve seen it happens time and again, even to some of the best writers out there.


Why do we love Revenge?

For starters, it’s always entertaining. Whether it’s watching someone who has wronged another person get their comeuppance or watching the protagonist go after the bad guys and bring them down, we all like to watch a good revenge movie.

Revenge is fun because we all want to see someone get their just desserts. Even if you are the one doing the getting of the just desserts, it’s still an enjoyable experience to see justice done. It’s also exciting. It’s not everyday that you see your protagonist go after the people who have wronged them.

In most cases, they don’t have the resources or the skill set to do so. However, in the case of Revenge, our protagonist is an expert in the field and he’s got the right tools at his disposal to bring about justice.

Finally, it’s cathartic. We all know deep down inside that we would like to see someone else get their comeuppance for what they’ve done to us. We all hate the way they treated us or the way they did things, but we hate ourselves for being the one who allowed them to get away with it.

Go To Genre: Action and Thriller

War

This one, like love, is very straight forward, in fact probably more so. War stories are a staple of Hollywood blockbusters and independent films alike. It’s no coincidence that the most successful movies have been ones about battles for survival, love, independence, and freedom. And a good war story isn’t just one that shows up in a movie.

It can also be found in the pages of a bestselling book, in a magazine article, or even in a YouTube video. In order for the reader or listener to truly empathize with the hero or heroine in the story, the storyteller needs to paint a picture of the hero or heroine’s situation that is so vivid that it feels as if the reader or listener has lived it themselves.

The same is true of the war that the hero or heroine fought in, even if that war never happened. A good example of this would be the movie Black Hawk Down. Though the story was based on actual events, the filmmakers were able to add dramatic elements that allowed them to make the story feel like a living, breathing experience.


One of those elements was the depiction of the town where the battle took place. In the movie, they created an African-American neighborhood in Mogadishu, Somalia, and gave the people there a sense of pride and dignity, all while showing the effects of the brutal war that raged around them.

The same principle can be applied to other types of stories, including science fiction, fantasy, and romance.

But it works best when the author is willing to tell a story from his or her own personal experiences, rather than relying on a fictionalized account. This makes the story more relatable, and therefore more effective.

A movie war story will include one of the following elements:

  • An intense situation where you or your characters must make a choice about which action to take
  • Someone’s actions will have consequences that reverberate down the line
  • You may experience a personal loss in the story
  • Your characters may be forced to deal with emotions that are unexpected for them
  • You may need to learn to trust someone in the course of the story

Obviously, any film that is about war will have themes of war. Films like Saving Private Ryan, Dunkirk, War of the Worlds are all about war. How each film explores that theme are vastly different from each other, but the core theme is there in all of them.

Once again, this is a perfect theme for superhero movies, especially team-ups like The Avengers or Justice League, where our heroes are usually fighting some sort of alien army. 

But if you want to be a little more subtle, a movie like Scarface also has some elements of war.

Go To Genre: Action and Thriller

Coming of Age

Not only is this a theme a lot of popular films explore, but its also a popular genre. To put it simply, a coming of age a story about how a character learns to grow up, get out of his or her comfort zone and learn the necessary skills to become a mature adult.

This may include the character going through a rite of passage (such as a coming of age experience, a death, or a move to a new city), discovering his or her sexuality, or discovering his or her purpose in life. It’s a coming of age movie.

It’s the movie that deals with a group of teenagers who come of age. A coming of age story is a very important part of American culture. The first generation to truly take advantage of the benefits of the industrial revolution was born in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

They were able to rise above the poverty line and start making a life for themselves. They could also go to college, and get jobs to support themselves and their families.

The Breakfast Club, Superbad, Stand by Me, Perks of Being a Wallflower, are all films with Coming of Age as one of their themes. The list could literally go on and on.

Coming of age usually covers themes of universal experiences, which make them so popular with audiences. We all know those awkward, angsty, embarrassing, etc events we had to go through while maturing into adulthood, which allows us to connect more closely with our main character.

This is why coming of age movies have become so popular, because we can all relate to them. Coming of Age Movies are also a great way to explore universal human experiences. The main character has to grow up and learn the necessary skills to become an adult.

This can be done through many different ways, such as learning how to survive in the world, learning how to take care of others, learning how to deal with love, and learning how to be happy with oneself. It’s also a great way for directors to explore what it means to grow up and what it means to be an adult.

The Breakfast Club

One of the most famous coming of age films is “The Breakfast Club.” The movie follows five students who spend the day at detention together. It’s there where they learn to get along with each other, learn that they are all very different from each other, and learn to let go of the past. The characters learn about themselves and the world around them. They discover their true potential and what they want out of life.


Superbad

This film is another coming of age film that explores universal coming of age themes. The main character is a high school student named Evan, who wants to be popular. He gets caught up in a whole bunch of things that he doesn’t understand, which causes him to fail. His friends help him get back on track by telling him what he needs to do, and giving him advice. The main theme of this movie is that we all have our own unique qualities and abilities that we can use to make the world a better place.


Pulp Fiction

One of Quentin Tarantino’s best movies, and it deals with the theme of coming of age. This movie follows three characters, Uma Thurman, John Travolta, and Samuel L. Jackson, as they go on a quest to get revenge on a group of people who killed their friend.

Their quest leads them on a journey where they learn more about themselves and what they want out of life.


Dazed and Confused

Another coming of age film that deals with the theme of coming of age is “Dazed and Confused.” The movie follows four high school students, as they spend the day in a small town.

It’s there where they learn to deal with the pressures of being a teenager. They learn to find out what makes them happy, and what makes them sad. This allows them to discover who they are and what they want out of life.


The Graduate

One of the best coming of age films ever made. It follows Benjamin Braddock, a college student, as he tries to find his place in the world. He goes on a journey to find out more about himself and what he wants out of life. This allows him to discover his true potential and what he wants out of life.


Go To Genre: Comedy and Drama

Overcoming Adversity

If you’re familiar with the “overcome adversity” storytelling format, you know the idea behind it. An underdog rises to challenge the status quo, and wins. Overcoming adversity is a great way to capture attention and inspire readers. Movies like Titanic, The Fighter, Rocky and Million Dollar Baby all use this formula.


Overcome adversity is a great theme for biofilms. We don’t make films about famous people simply because they’re famous. We make films about their lives because they are the people that battled adversity, and somehow in the end, reach their goals and accomplished their dreams.

When it comes to overcoming adversity, the best story line from a movie is the one that tells the audience why the protagonist didn’t quit, why he continued, and how he prevailed in the face of the worst adversity imaginable.

For example, in the movie The Last Samurai, a Japanese samurai is asked to train a group of American soldiers, but he refuses to do so until he is given the respect of being allowed to choose the time and place. He eventually accepts and trains them.


We all want to have that inspiration of seeing someone like us being unstoppable in their journey to a better life, because if we see someone else able to do it maybe – just maybe we’ll be able to as well.

It’s also a great theme to explore as a screenwriter because you’re going into your story already with a clear understanding that you’re going to put your character through the ringer and almost to the edge of death, before giving them their much-earned comeback.

Go To Genre: Action, Comedy and Superhero/Comic Book Films

The Hero 

When we think about heroes in films, we often think about the ones who are doing something great, whether it’s saving people or winning the battle or saving a country. This kind of heroism can make us feel good and helps us overcome our fears.

However, there’s another kind of heroism that we can draw inspiration from—it’s the hero of the story who simply helps someone else get through a tough situation. He or she doesn’t have any grand plans to change the world, but rather, they just want to help someone else out.

While it may seem that this kind of heroism is less impressive than the other kind, I’d argue that it’s actually more valuable because it’s less self-serving. When we act on behalf of others, we put their interests above our own, which is what makes it so powerful.

This is why helping others is one of the most important aspects of altruism, and it’s also why it’s such an important virtue for a society to encourage.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

This is what makes the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty so fascinating. The film follows a man who has spent his life living vicariously through other people’s stories. However, he finds himself in a situation where he needs to do something heroic himself—something that will make him feel like a hero.

In order to do this, he has to find a way to live a normal life, one that doesn’t involve him constantly being pulled into someone else’s story. This is a difficult task for Walter, since he has spent so much time living vicariously through others. But if we can look at the movie from a different angle, we can see that he’s doing a great job of overcoming his selfish tendencies and acting on behalf of others.

In the first part of the movie, Walter has been living his life as a reclusive office worker. He is content with his life, but then he gets a call from his estranged wife asking him to come home for Christmas. As he listens to her, he starts to think about his own past. He remembers how he was once a man who was driven by ambition, who wanted to do something great.

He remembers how he used to make plans to be the best photographer in the world. But after he meets Jane, he finds that he can no longer live vicariously through her stories. Walter is forced to confront the fact that he doesn’t want to be the hero in her life, or anyone else’s life, for that matter. He doesn’t want to become a hero.

Instead, he wants to go back to his old life and lead a normal one. So, how does Walter do this? The answer is simple. He just needs to stop thinking about himself and start thinking about others.


He needs to forget about his own needs and desires and start focusing on those of others. And in order to do this, he has to learn how to let go of his selfish tendencies. The first step in doing this is to stop thinking about himself.

Walter has to stop focusing on himself and his needs and instead focus on other people and their needs. This is a difficult task for Walter because he’s always been so self-centered. But if we look at the movie from a different angle, we can see that he’s doing a great job of overcoming his selfish tendencies and acting on behalf of others. He’s living vicariously through others.

The heroic theme is a popular theme because it’s obviously once again tied into the superhero genre. We all want to see the good in people, and especially in today’s world, it can feel like there are no more good people left.

Films that deal with themes of Hero allow us to see the world in a more optimistic light. The hero film can inspire us to take actual action in our real everyday lives. The hero theme doesn’t just have to be for superhero films.

A film about Martin Luther King, Jr would have themes of “the hero” too. What’s even better is that that was in fact a real, living, breathing, hero that once lived with us.

Go To Genre: Action, Biography and Superhero/Comic Book Films

Man vs Machine

A story about Man vs Machine (or Man vs. Technology) is a story about two characters whose minds are set on the same goal. It’s a story of a human trying to beat a machine at a task. That’s what makes it a good choice for movie storytelling. A character has a specific goal, and the storyteller tries to find out if the character can achieve it. And then the storyteller tries to tell the audience what would happen if the character succeeds.

The basic structure of this type of story is usually a confrontation between the hero and a machine (the antagonist). The main idea behind a man vs. machine story is that the protagonist has some unique quality or skill that makes him or her the best choice to solve the problem at hand.

The machine or antagonist, on the other hand, is the epitome of modern technology and science. The hero must use all his or her skills and wits to overcome the machine and save the day.

This could be a sports story, an action movie, a comedy, a drama, or any other genre of film. It’s a story about a human trying to beat a machine at a task. That’s what makes it a good choice for movie storytelling. The main idea behind a man vs. machine story is that the protagonist has some unique quality or skill that makes him or her the best choice to solve the problem at hand.

This is a theme that you see explored all the time in the sci-fi genre. At least once a year, there will be a film released exploring this theme. When done well, they become classics and/or pick up a ton of awards. 

Two films that fit that billing, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Ex Machina.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

At some point, humans and machines will become more evenly matched. That’s what happened in the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day, when the human resistance sent a T-800 into cyberspace. The T-800, however, wasn’t the only machine that became self-aware and began to see its human creators as a threat.

A group of humans who are trying to survive on the Earth, have been attacked by a robot with artificial intelligence. The machine is called “Terminator.” “T2 is a follow-up of sorts to the original 1984 sci-fi film. In the film, John Connor leads a resistance movement against the machines.


Ex Machina

The premise of the film Ex Machina is fairly simple, although it’s execution is quite complex and nuanced. A beautiful young woman is brought into a high-tech research facility for an experiment where she’s partnered with a robot. protagonist Caleb (played by Domhnall Gleeson) is being tested to see if he’s suitable to be a candidate for a job at a major tech company.

His test involves being shut inside a room with an artificial intelligence named Ava, which he must impress in order to get a job offer. This is the point in the movie where we learn that Ava is not a person—she’s a “simulation” of a human being.

She looks, acts, and thinks like a person. But she’s a computer program, and it’s important to know this when attempting to communicate with her. At first, he seems to bond with her robotic companion, but soon discovers that it may not be an ideal match.

He must decide whether to trust the machine that appears to be her friend and companion or to trust her own judgment.

When dealing with the man vs machine theme, as a screenwriter you might start to fall into some classic Man vs Machine tropes. So, to keep your story fresh, figure out a way you can incorporate another theme to mesh with this main one that we might not have seen before, or at least not very often.


Obvious choices would be to go either to love or fear, but if you’re looking to make an impact on a genre and change the way Man vs Machine stories are seen and told, you might want to connect a theme like Remorse and see what interesting plot points you may be able to come up with.

Go to Genre:  Sci-fi

Remorse

Remorse is a theme that has been around for a while in fiction. I’m sure there are plenty of movies that explore this theme, but I just haven’t had the time to watch them all. So, this will be my first foray into it.

What is Remorse?

As Wikipedia puts it,

“remorse is a feeling of regret or guilt that results from a belief that one has behaved in a manner that violates the values or moral principles that one holds dear.”

There are a few ways to go about exploring this theme in a screenplay: A character has an emotional response to something they’ve done that affects their conscience. They realize they’ve behaved in a way that violates their moral code.

A character doesn’t have an emotional response to something they’ve done that affects their conscience. But, it later comes back to haunt them. A character has an emotional response to something they’ve done that affects their conscience. And, it is later revealed that what they did was wrong. And, there is no change of heart from the character.

For instance, a character who kills someone and then later realizes that what he/she did was wrong, but there is no change of heart. I’m going to be examining three remorses in this section.

  1. Remorse 1: A character has an emotional response to something they’ve done that affects their conscience.
  2. Remorse 2: A character doesn’t have an emotional response to something they’ve done that affects their conscience. And, it is later revealed that what they did was wrong.
  3. Remorse 3: A character has an emotional response to something they’ve done that affects their conscience. And, it is later revealed that what they did was wrong.

The first remorse I want to look at is the character’s emotional response to something they’ve done that affects their conscience. It could be anything from a crime to a moral failing.

Here are a few examples:

  • A character murders someone. They realize what they did was wrong, but there is no change of heart. They feel no remorse.
  • A character murders someone and then tries to cover it up. He/she feels no remorse.
  • A character has an affair with a married woman and then covers it up. He/she feels no remorse.
  • A character commits fraud. He/she feels no remorse.
  • A character breaks into a house and steals things. He/she feels no remorse.
  • A character embezzles money. He/she feels no remorse.
  • A character steals food to feed his/her starving child. He/she feels no remorse.
  • A character kills a baby. He/she feels no remorse.

The above examples all have the same element in common: there is no emotional response to the action that affects their conscience. This is the first type of remorse that I’m going to be looking at.

The second type of remorse is when a character doesn’t have an emotional response to something they’ve done that affects their conscience. Here are some examples:

  • A character commits fraud. He/she feels no remorse.
  • A character commits theft. He/she feels no remorse.
  • A character commits murder. He/she feels no remorse.
  • A character commits adultery. He/she feels no remorse.
  • A character commits incest. He/she feels no remorse.
  • A character commits rape. He/she feels no remorse.

The above examples all have the same element in common: there is no emotional response to the action that affects their conscience. This is the second type of remorse that I’m going to be looking at.

The third type of remorse is when a character has an emotional response to something they’ve done that affects their conscience, but it is later revealed that what they did was wrong. Here are a few examples:

  • A character murders someone. He/she feels no remorse.
  • A character murders someone and then tries to cover it up. He/she feels no remorse.
  • A character has an affair with a married woman and then covers it up. He/she feels no remorse.
  • A character breaks into a house and steals things. He/she feels no remorse.
  • A character commits fraud. He/she feels no remorse.
  • A character embezzles money. He/she feels no remorse.

I hope this has helped you understand theme and how to use it in your writing. Come back to this article when you have writer’s block. Happy writing.

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