Pixar’s Cars analysis

Presented as @mlucas suggests, though, in that Doc was ready to come back, and expected a great welcome. He didn’t get that welcome. Instead, they “moved right on down to the next rookie waiting in line.”

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I usually don’t look to the Signposts unless it’s super obvious - sometimes you can get caught up in a particular expression of it, when it could just as easily be explained by another one of the Types in that Domain.

It’s really more about the Problem and Solution of the Change Character and the Focus and Direction of the Steadfast Character. Drivers can always be incessantly argued one way or the other! (though ultimately you’ll figure it out).

It’s just about getting that “click” when you try something and then all the other Throughlines fall into place - you’ll look into a Throughline you weren’t choosing and it will feel like magic that a software program identified just the right Problem (happened with Call Me By Your Name and The Florida Project recently)

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Yup. That totally fits I think.

IC (steadfast) Focus/Direction is “Oppose/Support”

I confess though that I get a bit confused by symptom/response in general but especially for the steadfast character (even though I think I’ve read an article by you on this).

But certainly “Being Contrary to Something” defines Doc (he’s pretty contrarian).

As for Support, looking at the gists, “being someone’s cheerleader” works – okay not exactly cheerleader but he does become the pit stop chief for the last race and is “cheering” Lightning on.

Hey guys,
Thought you could use some Help (lol) so I took the time to watch it. Didn’t quite have time to finish it all but I got 3/4 in, to the Fourth Driver. It’s a pretty good movie!

I definitely think you have the right storyform, the Hinder/Help is super strong and I definitely saw LIghtning as a Do-er. Oh, and his MC Focus/Symptom of Control is even illustrated right in the first frames where he keeps telling himself to “focus, focus, I eat losers for breakfast, wait maybe I should have had breakfast… no, stay focused!” Later of course, Control is being locked up in Radiator Springs, with his Uncontrolled response being his attempts to get free. Not to mention going wild (like when he originally destroys the road).

The one section of the movie that can kinda screw you up is the bit with the history of Radiator Springs and how the Interstate caused it to die, as that seems like a Situation-driven conflict. But all that happened a long time before the story started and I think the real conflict for the IC is the love of Radiator Springs (Mind / Subconscious) along with the rejection that it faces (Denial) when people just drive by on the Interstate.

As you might guess I feel strongly that several of the Radiator Springs folks (at least Mater, Sally, and Doc) are a combined IC, with Doc at the head as evidenced with the “You and I” moment in the garage (Lightning says “I’m a racecar, you’re… a much older racecar, but under the hood you and I are the same.”).

On the IC Symptom/Response, they all see Lighning’s disapproval of the town (Oppose) as a problem, but they nurture the littlest bit of effort he shows by commending his efforts (Support) and find ways to support him in his punishment (e.g. Sally offering him a place to stay).

Also, when Lightning paves the road too fast and makes a huge mess of it, Doc sees LIghtning’s denying the terms of his punishment (Oppose) as something he needs to fix, so what does he do? He finds a way to get Lighning to agree to (Support) the terms! (the race bet)

Meanwhile, I think Radiator Springs does take part in the OS when they’re worried about their businesses making money (Obtaining). You can see Oppose/Support there when the lost couple comes through, showing disapproval of the town but everyone tries desperately to get them to support the town anyway.


On Driver, I definitely feel Decision is right. I wrote these out in myself first without checking back, and turns out they’re the same ones you guys saw, e.g. in this post.

  1. First Driver is Lighning’s decision not to change tires, which forces the three-way-tie. Zoomed out like @Gregolas suggests, which I think is the best way to look at it, it’s “the race ends in a non-decision” Decision.
    (Note: in the middle of Act 1 we have another instance of Decision driver, Lightning’s decision to make Mac keep driving through the night, which forces the shenanigans of him falling out and ending up in Radiator Springs.)

  2. Second Driver (approx 33 minutes in) is the court’s decision to give Lighning “community service”.

  3. Third Driver (approx 1:03) is Lighning’s decision to stay in town when he’s given enough gas to leave. They really focused on this, showing how he could have left but decided to go with Sally instead. (Although this was preceded by discovering Doc is the Hudson Hornet, that did NOT drive his decision, or turn the plot at that point.)

  4. Fourth Driver (revealed approx 1:31) is Doc’s decision to betray Lightning to the media. Big plot turner, and though Lighning finding out about him may have influenced this, I definitely would NOT say it forced it. (he easily could have left things alone)

What do you guys think?

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I think you just managed to put my feelings into words for me. Thank you!

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Fantastic @mlucas. I agree with this 100%. Thanks for clarifying and adding more illustrations too. I am now convinced on the Decision driver as well, and your explanation was helpful in understanding how drivers actually work too.

@Gregolas what do you think?

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I agree. I’m all in with that.

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STORY ENGINE SETTINGS: “Cars

CHARACTER DYNAMICS:
MC RESOLVE: Change
MC GROWTH: Stop
MC APPROACH: Do-er
MC MENTAL SEX: Male
OC RESOLVE: Steadfast

PLOT DYNAMICS:
DRIVER: Decision
LIMIT: Optionlock
OUTCOME: Failure
JUDGMENT: Good

MAIN CHARACTER
(Lightning McQueen)
DOMAIN: Universe
CONCERN: The Future
ISSUE: Preconception vs. Openness
PROBLEM: Hinder
SOLUTION: Help
FOCUS: Uncontrolled
DIRECTION: Control
UNIQUE ABILITY: Openness
CRITICAL FLAW: Denial
BENCHMARK: The Past
SIGNPOST 1: The Future
SIGNPOST 2: Progress
SIGNPOST 3: The Present
SIGNPOST 4: The Past

SUBJECTIVE STORY
(Mentor/Mentee)
DOMAIN: Psychology
CONCERN: Becoming
ISSUE: Obligation vs. Rationalization
PROBLEM: Hinder
SOLUTION: Help
FOCUS: Feeling
DIRECTION: Logic
CATALYST: Rationalization
INHIBITOR: Attitude
BENCHMARK: Conceptualizing
SIGNPOST 1: Conceptualizing
SIGNPOST 2: Being
SIGNPOST 3: Becoming
SIGNPOST 4: Conceiving

OBJECTIVE STORY
(Winning the Piston Cup)
DOMAIN: Physics
CONCERN: Obtaining
ISSUE: Attitude vs. Approach
PROBLEM: Hinder
SOLUTION: Help
FOCUS: Oppose
DIRECTION: Support
CATALYST: Approach
INHIBITOR: Obligation
BENCHMARK: Understanding
SIGNPOST 1: Obtaining
SIGNPOST 2: Understanding
SIGNPOST 3: Learning
SIGNPOST 4: Doing

OBSTACLE CHARACTER
(Doc Hudson & The Residents of Radiator Springs)
DOMAIN: Mind
CONCERN: The Subconscious
ISSUE: Denial vs. Closure
PROBLEM: Disbelief
SOLUTION: Faith
FOCUS: Oppose
DIRECTION: Support
UNIQUE ABILITY: Closure
CRITICAL FLAW: Preconception
BENCHMARK: Memory
SIGNPOST 1: The Preconscious
SIGNPOST 2: The Subconscious
SIGNPOST 3: The Conscious
SIGNPOST 4: Memory

ADDITIONAL APPRECIATIONS

GOAL: Obtaining
CONSEQUENCE: Becoming
COST: The Subconscious
DIVIDEND: The Future

REQUIREMENT: Understanding
PREREQUISITE: Conceptualizing
PRECONDITION: Memory
FOREWARNINGS: The Past

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I have a couple of general questions about analysis if I might interrupt here to ask them.

Is the Dramatica User Group still viewable online? I went to the Google + page and then I went to another “secret page” and I was a little flipped around in regards to what I actually needed to do to view and participate in the live feed. I guess it has to do with trolls or something? Or are live feeds/online participation not currently happening?

Second… I literally forgot because I took too long writing the first one. Lovely. I’ll report back if the neurons stop shorting out.

Yes they’re still online. The entire YouTube channel should be here. Running a bit behind on editing and posting the last few, though the podcasts are up to date on the individual analysis page for each film.

Guess I’m watching Cars this weekend!

(Though it seems like what you have is great!)

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But are the live feeds still ongoing? I’ve found the videos on YouTube, but I’d enjoy a live process. Is that still happening or will it come back?

Looks great! I like the Denial critical flaw for Lightning (e.g. denying he needs anyone else, even to the point where his crew can’t take the rejection and quits). And Openness UA works great – despite his preconceptions, he’s open to making new friends, which almost lets him win. In the end the CF wins (failure story): he denies the Piston Cup in order to save The King from the same rejection Doc faced.

Love the Issue of Obligation for the Relationship Story. It starts out about Lightning’s obligations to the town but becomes a lot deeper as it focuses in on the relationship: the obligations of new friends to each other.

One thing I was wondering about was the possibility that the story Limit is a Timelock. Did you guys consider that? It seems like the 1-week race date is bringing everything to conclusion. (Note that it doesn’t affect the other story points to change the Limit – not even the PSR, as far as I know.)

I really need to watch the end now!

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@mlucas Reread the Narrative First article “Wrangling the Scope of an Entire Narrative” (having trouble linking on my phone). Specifically the section titled The Apparent Blending of Time and Space. That section is part of what got this thread started to begin with. I think it’s more about the space of the finish line being occupied than the week they are given to get to California.

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I didn’t really give Timelock much thought (but you could be right). I guess my reasoning against it would be that the both the opening and the climax happen outside of the “week deadline” i.e. the story isn’t resolved until after the climactic race at the end (which is when you expect it to resolve).

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Got it. That would make sense even if Jim hadn’t specifically referenced Cars in the article!

It was kind of bugging me, watching the film, that I often wasn’t clear on how many days he had left to get to California. It might have been better if they hadn’t been so specific about the race date – since the real pressure came from getting there first to get an advantage in the race and in schmoozing the sponsor Dinoco. So instead of saying “1 week” they could have said “June 1st” while being very vague on how many days until June 1st.

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My guess is they used one week so when Doc said it would take X days to fix the road and LM said he should be schmoozing Dinoco right now, the audience could kind of compare that to one week and feel an urgency of time running out, or when LM says he’s been trying to get out of town for three days. I mean, like you say, even getting to California isn’t really about getting there in one week, it’s about getting covering that space first. Knowing there’s one week is just a way to know that LM has lost x number of days of schmoozing that Chick is getting instead.

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No live for the foreseeable future. It is on the Roadmap for Narrative First in a couple months—this would be in addition to the Users Group Meeting.

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Finally got a chance to watch to the end last night. I was a bit surprised at how triumphant the ending was for it to be Failure, but I can’t imagine any different storyform working (e.g. Success with a Goal of Doing). I mean, I can see Lightning having a Concern of Progress maybe, but none of the Elements under that or any of the other Concerns seem to come even close.

I think what’s going on is probably the opposite of a Triumph with high Cost – we have a Personal Triumph with high Dividends, where it was made very clear that the Goal wasn’t appropriate. (Dividends include Radiator Springs’ future, Sally & Lightning’s future, Mater and Lightning’s future as best friends, etc.)

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Sorry to bump, but I’d like to know if we ever got confirmation for the form we came up with?

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