Complete stories provide Audiences with an account of conflict from all different sides. Instead of focusing on one point-of-view to the exclusion of others, an effective narrative quadrangulates subject matter leaving no stone unturned.
For centuries, Authors fine-tuned this method into what can now be said to be one of the most powerful means of communicating a singular message to a mass Audience.
Four Equally Important Points-of-View
To maintain the continuity of an experience, Authors masquerade these various points-of-view under assumed notions of character and plot. The central figure in a narrative witnesses conflict for the Audience from a first-person I perspective. A secondary principal character bucks up against that point-of-view with an account of what You see as conflict. The Author manufactures a relationship between the two that offers to the Audience what We encounter as conflict. And finally, plot takes center stage as it generates aspects of conflict They engage.
All four perspectives exist simultaneously. The beauty of tying them all together into one seamless work rests solely on the talent and caliber of the artist behind it all.
Matt Dunn, Silicon Valley’s head of Hooli, weaves together a tight-knit tapestry of conflict as the writer and director of Captain Fantastic. Not content to simply explore the drama of a family dealing with suicide, Dunn explores the intimate and personal fallout of such trauma through key integrated perspectives.
The player of Ben Harper (Virgo Mortensen) serves as father figure, Protagonist, and stubborn-headed idealist—fulfilling roles within the Relationship Story, Overall Story, and Main Character Throughlines. The latter finds Ben holding strong to unconventional beliefs that may or may not have contributed to his wife’s death. Intimate and personal, this Fixed Attitude perspective keys the audience in on what conflict I experience through the Main Character Throughline.
Working our way back, as Protagonist in the Overall Story Throughline, Ben struggles to get his children and others to conceive of a different way of life. Bringing Chomsky into the era of Wal-Mart and Trump, Ben transforms his family from dysfunctional to functional. The conflict They experience in this story—they including Ben, his children, and even his skeptical in-laws—centers around incompatible Manners of Thinking.
As father figure, Ben develops the soul and heart of the narrative through his relationship with his children. Emphasizing the connection between Son Reillan and Ben, this Relationship Story Throughline finds conflict in shared Activities. From this perspective, We struggle to recite literature, climb rock walls in the rain, engage in smash and grab covert operations against corporate America, and even sneak into a cemetery late at night to rescue Mom from her grave.
The only perspective missing from our analysis so far is that final point-of-view that communicates what You see as conflict through the Influence Character Throughline. In Captain Fantastic that perspective finds shape within Ben’s children. Abandoned by their mother at a key point in their development and forced to be different than every other kid in America by their father, the Harper children find conflict in their Situation. It is this fixed external point-of-view and the children’s methodology for dealing with their personal problems that challenges Ben to reconsider his own stubborn ways and adapt a different way of thinking for the family unit.
On their own, these distinct perspectives tell a tale of overcoming emotional trauma. Placed together and masterfully woven into a coherent tapestry of meaning, these points of view combine to tell a story—a story of growth, both from within and without.