Holistic questions

Maybe some of the films on the Dramatica.com analysis site might fit? https://dramatica.com/analysis/filtered/eyJyZXN1bHRfcGFnZSI6ImFuYWx5c2lzXC9maWx0ZXJlZCIsInNlYXJjaDptYy1tZW50YWwtc2V4IjoiRmVtYWxlIn0

Okay, this makes sense. I know you promised yourself you’d be more active this year and I heartily encourage that. There is no better way to learn. But, since we don’t know where your level of understanding of the theory is, it’s best to be very tight with your terminology.

Truthfully, I haven’t read the book since it dominated the beaches that one summer, and it was fantastic, but I remember nothing. It sounds like what you are describing is happenstance—holistic thinking must be more than that, no? (This is me spitballing.)

1 Like

This is a great way to frame the question and analysis!

Incidentally, I was talking to a showrunner the other day who is having this very argument with his development team. They want the MC (a woman) to do something very holistic and he can’t understand why it makes any sense at all. The dev. team (all women) is assuring him that their advice is the way to go because they are going to be trying to sell to the studio, who is also all women.

I honestly don’t know if he’s being presented with notes to make the MC Holistic or if they’re trying to force a romance into the pilot episode—a totally different issue—but it was very interesting to hear his take on it as he vented.

Prish, I don’t need a link to films. I’m asking about people’s experiences with watching films with Holistic Main Characters, and hopefully, they’ve thought about it.

1 Like

I was just thinking about one of my favourite books turned movie ‘Chocolat’. I think of this as being solved holistically, in that it is kind of a battle for the hearts and minds of the townspeople and it feels as if Viane is there to balance the overwhelming influence of the curate guy, balancing the repression, and denial of lent with the pleasure and hedonism of chocolate. It isnt a cause and effect problem and solution but a rebalancing of the influences on the townspeople. Eventually the deficit in the curate guy’s life flips over into surplus and he gorges on the chocolate.
I dont know the story form but that feels like a holistic ‘solution’ (or rather rebalancing of forces) to me.

1 Like

Yes, the whole of holistic thinking (see what I did there? :grinning:) is more than happenstance. However, I am looking into one particular instance of holistic thinking in answer to your question:

The best way I could come up with how Da Vinci Code could “feel” differently with a holistic protagonist/MC is for it to feel serendipitous.

So instead of asking if holistic thinking is more than happenstance (which is like asking if a forest is bigger than one particular tree), I’m curious to know if happenstance is an appropriate example of the holistic “feeling”? (In other words, does this tree belong in the forest?)

What do you think? How would a strong linear plot like Da Vinci Code feel differently with a holistic protagonist/MC? Is a happenstantial feeling one appropriate answer to the question? I am genuinely curious because I am winging it/spitballing too.

Wait… I thought you were saying that the MC of Da Vinci code is Holistic? Are they linear?

If my memory serves me correctly, the MC/Protagonist of the original Da Vinci Code is linear.

I was trying to give an example of how it could feel to switch him over to holistic, in answer this question:

In theory, the problems in the OS of The Da Vinci Code could run alongside a Holistic MC too. The question I have is… how much different would that movie feel to the viewer?

Did I misunderstand your question?

1 Like

No, you didn’t misunderstand. I misunderstood how you were approaching the answer because I’m not that familiar with the movie. Mentally swapping out the PSS is a good way to mull this over though. I should try it with a story I’m more familiar with.


Blockquote about people’s experiences with watching films with Holistic Main Characters,> Blockquote

To be replaced with more editing. Perhaps, there is something you’re looking for in the rough draft.

The Wild Bunch
Husband (current) said, “I liked it. It was one of the best westerns, ever. No one was a hero. I have to admit that every time it comes on, I watch it. There is not a bad scene in that movie. But there was one scene in the beginning when Edmond O’Brian’s nephew was crazy, going around killing a woman. He was a sickest psychopath in there, and so he didn’t belong in their group. You couldn’t trust that guy. He was too much wild.” The husband was glad he got kicked out of [killed off in] the movie at the beginning.

Auntie Mame
I felt it was a very good introduction to sequential time passing scenes. That was the most prominent and enjoyable aspect of the film. Both myself and my current spouse of 37 years enjoyed it.

I felt it was a fun brilliant film. Each character was a unique jewel. It was a showcase as well as a plotting enjoyment. The current husband would and will never even give it a try, just turned off by snippets of visuals or sounds he has caught in passing.

Ever After
I felt disappointed at the end, where the prince was just a tag along and had no part of the resolution. I like teams coming together and accomplishing great things. I don’t need a put down character to feel female empowerment. That is why I never watch any Wonder Woman films. I read the comic with Diana and Steve when growing up in the 1950’s. Killing Steve off at the beginning of the film series was just silly.

My Fair Lady
In the 1960’s enthralled by the great beauty of sets and costumes and sounds and acting, I walked out of the movie in pleasurable enjoyment. My previous husband at the time went with me, and when we walked out he stood ridged and pointed his ridged arm and hand, saying loudly (yelled more like) on the sidewalk to me (and the world in general) about fantasy waste of time - anyone who is fooled by life being like that and more extremely loud harsh condemning words of the like. I was shocked of course, but it didn’t affect me much other than shock at the moment.
(Not listed as MC holistic but decades later:)
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
When I walked out of the theater after the movie in a cloud of enjoyment and believing people can change their lives over one thing or meeting, the gal friend I saw it with, all of a sudden yelled out into the crowd of audience viewers leaving also, “That was the most ridiculous … [etc. ]!!!”

Some Like it Hot
The current husband liked it and considered Marilyn Monroe the greatest actress in American history. I felt it was charming.

The Thomas Crown Affair
I had seen the original in the theater in the 1960’s and was disappointed at the end. When I saw the recent production, I enjoyed how the plotting was changed and the ending more to my upbeat taste. I, immediately, knew when the original plotting deviated and maybe I created the helping his ward aspect but I followed the new plot with glee, appreciating how he was saving someone instead of just flexing his intellect against the world just for fun. For me, the whole film was the plotting difference. Now, the current husband appreciated and enjoyed the first film with Steve McQueen much better, that for him emphasizing teamwork and accomplishment was enjoyment.

Rear Window
After the villain in this film and a heavy in most other films, it is always memorable that Erle Stanley Gardner pointed to him when he came in to audition for the Hamilton Burger role and said, “That is Perry Mason.” Being a villain in a MC holistic film sure doesn’t kill one’s career. It was a warm fuzzy for me to be a part of Stewart’s character’s problem solving team.

Thank you for the effort put into this post. Very helpful.

There is a parallel thread running, and these entries in particular has given me something concrete to think about, which is how my brain needs to take take info in:

Bottom line, from the POV of that thread: how does the viewer experience the space/time difference of the MC while watching the entire movie?

1 Like

Maybe enjoying viewing the different perspectives can give the viewer enthusiasm to see what the next one will be.

I just watched Ida last night. The official analysis lists it as Holistic and I think it’s a striking example of (perhaps) the entire movie feeling holistic, not just the MC, very similar-but-different to the feel of Roma and I’ve Been Thinking of Ending Things.

All scenes happen in normal time sequence (no flashbacks or flashforwards), one scene leading to the next sequentially, but with only the most minimal sense of cause/effect. Sometimes a scene shows a cause and sometimes an effect but never both - the movie just isn’t interested in that. The plot is simple and clear, and the director leaves it to the audience to fill in the breadcrumbs - the Setup, Revelation, Conflict, & Aftermath in most scenes might be implied, but I don’t think any scene or sequence shows the whole SRCA progression (I’m guessing here without re-watching, but in memory it feels like a lot of the scenes might have only one or two of those steps).

The MC Ida is a novice nun Be-er, the IC is the aunt Ida is sent away from the convent to stay with before taking her vows, and I’d say also a musician character/potential lover also fills the IC, both more linear Do-ers. It’s definitely a Grand Argument Story - the IC’s arguing for a sensual temporal life. Ida never even makes a counter argument for a godly, non-temporal life, she just lives it while she spends her time out in the world as she’s been instructed to. She takes in the experiences, appears to ponder and weigh them, and then moves on to the next experience. The story follows her, but without playing with goals, consequences, or rising stakes. (I know I’m inadvertently making it sound boring - it isn’t.)

So… I don’t know if I’m understanding the space/time difference thing well enough to make the full argument, Does it sound close?

I loved Ida and have been considering watching it again because of this thread.

My initial thought was that you were seeing a Journey as opposed to discrete Signposts but I’m not so willing to say until I watch it again.

I also really didn’t like Kubo but may stomach that again to see what I can see in it now.


I’d love to hear anything you have to say about Ida if you give it another view.

About seeing the journey rather than the stories - I’m familiar with the idea of seeing the acts as three-act journeys vs four-act signposts but not sure how you mean it here?

(I didn’t mention Kubo - I haven’t seen it. Did you mean Roma?)

I mean that some stories are smooth, like you never sense the signposts or the changes, and some have more obvious chapters.

The Relationship Story in The Accountant is super smooth. The change obviously happens, but it’s hard to point to when the shifts happen.

I was just bringing up another Holistic MC. I found the movie super irritating, and couldn’t even tell that there was an MC, to be honest.

And I found The Accountant one of the most fun stories, ever! I had no problem figuring out what was going on and backtracking in my mind with each new revelation and readjusting what the plot was about. It was fun to keep rewriting the story. (Was this the one you were talking about being irritating? I’ll delete if I’ve goofed.)

A film that stuck out to me as strikingly Holistic is Annihilation. There is an ambience and atmosphere that I can only describe as “vague” in that you never feel fully sure of what the goal of the characters truly is. There is a commonality between all of them for sure, and the goal is “to get to the lighthouse” but you never really FEEL that that’s all there is to it. It does not feel clear or cut and dried. It feels exploratory. (((SPOILERS: once the MC gets to the lighthouse, it doesn’t clear anything up and there is no clear feeling that the goal is achieved or not achieved.))) The film ends on an unresolved note. Many audience members even seem to have missed the point of the ending, you can see that in many YouTube videos with titles like “Annihilation Explained” where they are trying to understand it from a linear perspective. It’s really interesting. I’m not saying every Holistic minded story is going to be this confusing or vague, but it is an example that sticks out to me as fully Holistic.


I am wondering if Jesse Stone, in the series by that name, is an example of a holistic detective. In a couple of the movies, Jesse just simply “knows” who the killer is.

Is this what you mean? Am I wrong here about Jesse Stone? Would love to know.


Thank you. Sadly I don’t know the show.

Maybe they did not emphasize the clues enough with slower pacing or prop use for the audience to see how he knows? Have you read the books? Sometimes, they use the same clues novels to film. I have never watched any of the films (the Mom loved them) because I’m not into bleak and crippling despairing addictions, needing good writing upbeat. The book series starts off with him needing to rebuild a life and ends with him struggling with the same despair and addiction, but solving through it, from a glance at the Wikipedia.

Then the author died, but seems to have left a message to keep on trucking through the struggle. I caught snippets walking in on Mom’s viewing at times. Maybe he saw weaknesses because of his own struggles? So, maybe they were clues, why he “knows”? I suggest reading the plot summaries for the novels in the Wikipedia to see if you missed any physical clues lost in film direction and/ or edit.