Knives Out Analysis

I have no doubt that Rian “subversion for the sake of subversion” Johnson wanted to have a murder mystery without a murder. But Harlan murders himself, doesn’t he?

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Yes. He commits suicide and then …subversion incoming… we learn he didn’t need to and it was a misunderstanding. :wink:

So does his suicide not drive the story somehow? Again, haven’t seen it or read the script and his suicide may not drive anything. Just trying to point at what seems like an obvious choice to drive the story.

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Anyway, I like to look for Driver by trying to describe the whole story I’m a short sentence that focuses on Driver, non-Driver, Driver*.

Something like “A murder leads to a decision about who to give the money to until someone confessed” or “A decision to cut someone out of the will leads to a murder and investigation until they decide what to do with the money”. Just examples, I’m sure neither of those works right for this story.

*is it appropriate to refer to the non-driver as a Passenger? As in Driver and Passenger characters?

From where I’m standing it seems like

Is the top of the model

Is bottom-ish of the model

Here’s a good MC moment.

The family is having a debate about immigration during the party. They pull Marta in as a representative of the “good immigrants” who come here legally. Is that discomfort from her Mind or her Universe? She doesn’t play along to avoid confrontation and ingratiate herself. She sneaks off at the first chance and then slams a champagne.

Aye aye aye!

We’re all over the place on this one.

Excited to finally see that @JohnDusenberry accepts this

but now it seems I have to work on @glennbecker on that!

Meanwhile, we’re going have to have an argument about this:

For my part I came up with a storyform early on that I think is pretty solid and I haven’t changed my Fixed Attitude about it (will I remain Steadfast to the end? Stay tuned!). I feel like it all fits and makes sense.

I posted what I had upthread @glennbecker, but if anyone is interested I can walk through it again one point at a time.

The biggest issue is seeing Marta as a Be-er in Mind. While I understand the inclination to see her immigrant status as a Universe problem (I did at first), everything else about her says Mind. I did run the same storyform with Marta in Universe and the IC in Mind, but it just didn’t fit as well.

The question is, is “being an immigrant” always a Universe problem? Or is it possible that the conflict this causes her comes from another source (like prejudice against her and fear that her mother’s status will be found out)?

Either of those options actually sound like Be-er / Mind to me (sneaking off to slam a champagne actually more so).

An even better example I point to is at the very beginning when she’s with her mom and sister. Her sister is watching CSI, which is obviously upsetting given that Marta has just come from Harlan’s death (we find out later her involvement in it). Marta’s mother yells the sister to turn it off, but Marta says nothing; instead she just laughs at the absurdity and then cries; then she tells the sister “it’s ok, you can turn it on again” ! Can anyone explain to me how that moment isn’t an example of a Be-er in Mind?


Let’s leave the Do-er / Be-er debate for a moment and stick to Drivers so we can keep the discussion on track :smile:

I’ll re-read your other posts and reconsider my argument.

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I can see the case for a lot of this @JohnDusenberry – but I’m really having trouble seeing Becoming as a Concern and I really don’t see Marta as Steadfast …

Haha, I feel the same about mine.
Jim is seeing the movie this weekend, and I’m sure he will swoop in and tell us that we’re all totally wrong.

         I want you to remember something very
         important:  you won not by playing
         the game Harlan's way, but yours.

If that’s not evidence enough of Steadfast, I’m not sure what is.

Oh good! I can’t wait to hear what he has to say.

Or maybe I can – I hate being disabused of my ideas lol. Is “fear of having your Dramatica storyform proven wrong” a Gist for Fixed Attitude?

I could (possibly) see that argument.

What I can’t see is how either Harlan or Ransom change at all. I mean, I get what you’re saying about Control to Uncontrolled, (though I don’t really see Control as super-obvious Problem for them – more than other options). But that’s one moment – there’s scant evidence there of a real paradigm shift. (Do you really think he’s changed as a person?)

In your storyform, the Crucial Element is Conscience (Marta) and Temptation (Ransom). I could see Conscience for Marta.

But is there any way in which Ransom moves from Temptation to Conscience? I don’t see that at all.

I agree. For Marta, it seems that it’s not so much her status (Universe) that’s causing her problems, it’s her fear of what could happen to her mother/family if people find out that her mom’s undocumented or that she lied. And there are many times in the film where she is quite panicked and afraid.


So if she stopped worrying about her mother being taken away that would fix her problems?

Yes, I think so. Because there is never any actual move to deport her. Mom’s not stuck in detention or in the legal system. It’s all speculation (which if this ends up being an OS in Conceptualizing, might be a Problem or Focus) that it would be bad for Mom and Marta if the truth comes to light. But it’s not for sure she’d be deported. “With the family’s resources” she could fix it, which I think is an argument for her being Change – she goes from being afraid, to having the means to deal with her mom’s undocumented status. Problem (potentially) fixed.

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I don’t think so at all.

If Marta changed her kind heart and gave in, being nasty and cruel liek the rest of them, it would fix her problems.
But also–being Steadfast, Rian is saying that her problems aren’t problems at all.
They’re her source of drive, and she’s right to do it that way.

That being said, her source of drive still creates inequities for her. Dilemmas that she has to choose about.
I just don’t see how her Situation is the source of that inequity.

Regardless of resolve, it seems to me that there’s an ax hanging over her head the whole movie, and that is her mother’s illegal status / being deported.

Everything she does revolves around that. It’s unique to her a defines her perspective as an outsider to the family.

So, as with any “problem” element, it’s not that control is a problem. It’s that controlling creates an inequity in the Storymind, right?

So both Harlan and Ransom controlling the situation creates inequities.
Harlan controls his will, in an attempt to control his family vs. things are already too out of control and there’s nothing he can do.
Ransom attempts to control the situation with the mixed up drugs vs. the situation is out of his control what with the suicide, all the stuff he learns about Marta, etc.

If you look at what I think their Issue is, it’s all about Preconception vs. Openness.
Harlan being closed-minded about how he’s going to control the situation vs. Being Open to keeping things how they are.
Ransom having prejudices, being intolerant and being judged in his situation vs. being receptive to the changes poised to take place.

These are all the core things creating real inequity in the Storymind, I think.

I didn’t really get that sense, watching the movie. It’s more about whether she’s going to be found out, and a consequence of that would be her mother being deported & her thrown in jail. But again… that’s honestly not the focus on the movie.

The focus is put on her and her good heart. Benoit keeps mentioning it over and over.
The focus in the OS is everyone concerned about how the THROMBEYS! are going to fair now that Harlan’s gone.

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I’m not disagreeing that the OS is in Psychology. We’re in agreement there. :smile:

  • Harlan decides to create the elaborate cover-up plan because Marta has a big heart?
  • Marta goes along with the plan because she has a big heart?
  • Marta follows up by hiding and destroying evidence because she has a big heart?
  • Marta saving Fran is a big dilemma because she has a big heart?
  • Marta keeps the fortune because she has a big heart?

Being helpful, having a good conscience, doing the right thing and being honest are all at the element level and can exist in any Domain. The Domains should feel stupid simple. (ex. Neal Page is a Jerk. Del Griffith is Homeless.)