In the world of film making, when the words “romantic elements”─ where elements could stand for thriller, comedy, tragedy, or love story─ are used to describe a movie, the audience expects to encounter entertaining escapism, but a successful romantic relationship at the end despite the story trials.
Sexual tension of attraction between a man and a woman is created with the concept of “Push-Pull.” The characters keep pushing one another away, but cannot resist being pulled back together. The attraction and rebuttal can be woven into the plot events of any genre movie.
The final “stage” of a romantic story is where men and women usually diverge. Going back to the fundamentals of male-female instincts, males seek to procreate and females seek to nurture. The logical conclusion is males seek pleasure and females seek security. For a romantic story to “work” on screen, the romance needs to culminate in a committed relationship. If the male-female relationship disintegrates or is disrupted by the movie’s end, it’s NOT a successful romance. It’s a dramatic tragedy or comedy. There’s nothing wrong with that. It merely is not a satisfying romance.
When more pages or screen time is given to the relationship, the more important the romance is to the resolution of the movie’s driving “Story Line.” If a romance is to be an element in the plot’s tension through complications, it deserves its own plot line to assure continuity and satisfactory resolution. In other words, the writer must think where and when to appropriately insert the “Push-Pull.”
Through subtle actions and concise, pointed dialogue filled with innuendo, the writer must show both male and female feelings, awareness, denial, wanting, rejecting, and needing. Both genders must weave their way through the relationship maze according to two things: their own motivations and the circumstance they face.
The writer must carefully plot insightful moments of revelation, skewed perspectives, and emotional triggers. An excellent means is the dramatic tool of “Repeat Images.” Such visual triggers instantly communicate with the audience and involve them in the building tension between the couple.
When the writer commits to weaving in “Romantic Elements,” the separate plot line assures two things: the relationship will be shown gradually developing and it will be relevant to the main plot line. Holes in logic develop when the writer does not attend to plotting the romance. The credibility of the relationship’s commitment and culmination is lost if not shown developing because of the plot events and growing out of the motivations and values of the couple.
Writers have to decide what “kind” of movie they want to create. Who will the audience be? They have to decide, if it is going to be…
All of these can have romance incorporated into the plot, but with differing emphasis.
In a “Man’s Movie,” the romance must appeal to the essence of masculinity, that image of the procreator. When the romance is the main plot line, it must focus on the actions of the male lead, demonstrations of power, and the physical images of prowess. If romance is inserted as a subplot then the scenes show sexual attraction, how the couple compliment or enhance one another’s abilities, and the blatant need to be together.
Women’s movies or “Chick Flicks” demonstrate the classic concept of the power of romance to influence life’s events. With romance as the main plot, the pivotal events in the script show the pair as they meet, misunderstand, separate (whether physical or emotional), but ultimately commit. A romantic subplot in films directed to the female audience shows how the relationship impacts the main plot line, plays off subtle sexual tension, but, once again, ends in a commitment that solidifies the resolution for a nice “Love After” glow.
The G-Rated family fare movies can also use romance. After all, isn’t procreation, the perpetuation of the species, the nurturing of children based on the male and female unit? That’s the key to weaving sound relationship values into family-oriented movies. For this audience, a main plot romance needs to develop through communication, demonstration of values, and the ultimate commitment to the children and the family unit. Certainly day-to-day life can provide adequate resource material of that type of drama. When the romance is woven into a family story as a subplot is must function as a complication to the main plot line, delivered as nuance, and still contribute to the commitment to family in the end.
High concept box office hit type movies tend toward action and events which influence an entire culture or community. Therefore, a high concept romance as a main plot must function as the catalyst to the plot events, being as intense and dramatic as the powerful story it causes. The relationship is interwoven and interdependent with the catastrophic events changing the world around the couple. Obviously, a romantic subplot in a high concept movie acts as a complication to the main story line providing tension and choices for the main characters.
When making Hollywood/Bollywood movies, directors can always use subtle visuals to make audience aware of romantic possibilities, and that can contribute to the wholeness of your “Bigger-than-Life” characters.
Edited by Anant Goel
Producer CEO – RKNet Studios
Producer of Bollywood Movie Romantic Thriller “Pyar Mein Kyun”
Excerpts from a seminar article by Sally J. Walker