A plot is a predetermined storytelling formula that maps out the sequence of occurrences in a movie. In other words, it is the order of events in any cinematic work. It describes the protagonist, the antagonist, and the various points of interest in a film.
Generally, the protagonist has an end goal but there are challenges between him and his desire.
Especially for first time writers, a plot is a key element to write your first screenplay.
The antagonist is mostly responsible for the conflict he faces. While plot guidelines may vary from one genre to the other, there are basic formulas that persist in those categories. They offer a backbone around which to mold a story.
Plot can be an important element of moviemaking. When most people say that a movie had absolutely no plot, they often mean that in critical terms. Movies without plots don’t necessarily translate to bad works of art.
Some great gems have defied the constrictions of Hollywood to produce excellent movies that seemingly have no order to them. A director may choose to leave out a plot to avoid clichés in terms of theme and revitalize a genre.
The absence of a plot also makes a film unpredictable and gives it that real-life authenticity. You don’t know what’s going to happen a year or two from now, maybe you have no clue what’ll you’ll even be doing tomorrow. A plotless movie seeks to bring this purity of fate into cinema. It carries audiences wherever the creative wind blows, keeping things fresh and exciting.
Here are some movie examples that elevated the art of confusion into success. Some of them have become classic cult films:
Does a movie need a plot to be successful? Coffee and Cigarettes certainly didn’t need one to make the headlines of awesome movie-watching experiences in 2003. This Indie film is of the anthology category. That means a movie that collects various sub-genres into a singular showing, with the separate segments united by a prevailing aspect or element.
For Coffee and Cigarettes, the uniting factor is given away by the title. Perhaps the director’s goal was to show the spread and influence of smoking and the growing over dependence on caffeine at the time. He dissects addictions and obsessions in everyday life.
What’s clear though is that there was no visible order of events. The movie combines 11 short stories. It discusses an array of issues ranging from the health consequences of smoking and using caffeine for better sleep patterns. It goes a long way to show how coffee and cigarettes don’t make for a nice meal or combination.
At one point, characters even discuss the idea of caffeine popsicles for kids, thus illustrating how deep the addiction had taken root in society.
Each vignette serves up a topic of discussion and two opposing characters argue about it over the table they share. There is a constant alternation of white and black to bring out differences in opinion between characters. Besides titular pleasures, Coffee and Cigarettes also scrutinizes medicine, musicianship, miscommunication, and family ties. These also commonly surface across the various segments as a uniting thread as well.
This teen comedy adds to the successful line of plotless movies, as it samples the last day of school at Lee High in Texas. The opening sequence sets the mood for a hazing ceremony and proceeds to show how freshmen are trying to fit into a new world of partying and drugs.
Another teen meanwhile is struggling to balance the leisurely demands of school and the strict dreams of championship football. Dazed and Confused generally analyzes the teenage psyche, particularly in the 70s. It strives to create the same unpredictability with its story direction.
Dazed and Confused has some structure to it and isn’t as ambiguous as Coffee and Cigarettes, speaking purely from an organizational point of view. However, it fits the bill with the way it goes about proceedings. There’s no clear order.
The camerawork feels like a casual partygoer who haphazardly moves from place to place, seeking thrill where it lies. Consequently, the audience is a loitering presence eavesdropping from one conversation to the other.
A plot warrants a major point of conflict, called the climax, with the film concluding with its resolution. Pink’s need to steer clear of drugs and bad vices to secure a football scholarship features among the central themes.
Yet the movie ends with uncertainty, and the matter remains unresolved and could go either way. True to its title, the movie dazes and confuses as audiences are taken through the complexities of the teenage mind.
No plot? No problem! Clerks goes to show yet again that you can throw plot out the window and you’re still left with a really good watch.
This indie comedy was amazingly made on a pre production budget shy of 28,000 dollars. It explored a new concept at the time that big studios deemed a risk.
Clerks excels on the less trodden path it takes, elevating the mundane normalcy of work-life with powerful conversations. The dialogue drives the movie to stardom in the absence of any concrete plot. It slices a day out of the life of two clerks as they talk about basically anything and everything.
The acting is a little off in some parts of the movie, but that only adds to the authenticity and its reality show-esque feel. Video store employee Randal and next-door convenience store clerk Dante discuss all manner of subjects from sex and relationships to kids buying cigarettes at the store.
The movie starts as Dante is called in to cover for a colleague and analyzes the ordinary happenings on a normal day at work for two neighboring store attendants. There are no obvious plot points. The movie feels like an adventurer out at sea, exploring beautiful islands on a refreshing journey to nowhere in particular.
Clerks was so successful that it inspired two more sequels, the third still in the works. Clerks II still tags along in the lives of Dante and Randal who now work together at a restaurant after certain mishaps at their previous places of work saw their jobs come to end.
It follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, visibly wary of a tangible plot. It opts for a story line that swings with unpredictability from one side to the other.
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