Real people. Real world. Real life.
Drama writers have been grappling with these deceptively simple terms for centuries, and for screenwriters, they are goals no less daunting. While drama and dramatics are the stuff of all great movies, and every memorable action/western/comedy is ultimately grounded in a little home-spun drama, the drama genre is distinct unto itself, and boasts some of the most lauded films in cinema’s history. Drama storylines are often smaller in scope, but broad in thematic ambition. However intangible, the ultimate goal of drama films is to capture reality in some form, and through it to offer some worldly observation and/or judgement.
Drama film protagonists must usually weigh their outward ambitions against inner conflicts, and often the first will work aggressively against the second. Over the course of two hours, drama films show their heroes at their very best and at their very worst, and it is usually power, or a struggle for or against power, that will push them to these heights. Half-way through Act Two, drama protagonists stop following the path laid out for them, and start to play an active part in their own destinies. In contrast to action/adventure films, drama protagonists tend to discover that a life alone is not worth living, and that their inner demons are best handled when confessed to a trusted friend or loved one. While most drama films end with a reaffirmation of life, there is a long and noble tradition of ending the drama with its protagonist’s nose landed face-down in the mud!
Drama movies to watch: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, A Place in the Sun, Twelve Angry Men (1957), Manhattan, Shawshank Redemption, Do The Right Thing
Genre Hybrids: Thelma and Louise (Crime Drama), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Sci-Fi Drama), Raging Bull (Sports Drama), Y tu mama tambien (Road Drama)