Pixar’s Cars analysis

I check everyday to see when everyone’s come to a consensus!

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How can we tell whether

a. there’s something off with the structure of Cars itself
b. we’ve missed something in our analysis (i.e. we’ve gotten one or more of the story points wrong)
c. we’ve failed to encode our current choices correctly (or have misunderstood possible ways to encode)?

I feel pretty good about most of our analysis but I’m not seeing how we can cross the finish line (so to speak). Even if we get to consensus on the Drivers, I am having trouble seeing how the Signposts line up with either choice (Actually I feel pretty good about the OS, but IC and MC not so much).

what about RS of Becoming? The relationship changes from Judge/Prisoner to Role Model/Fan?[quote=“Lakis, post:143, topic:1515”]
How can we tell whether

a. there’s something off with the structure of Cars itself
b. we’ve missed something in our analysis (i.e. we’ve gotten one or more of the story points wrong)
c. we’ve failed to encode our current choices correctly (or have misunderstood possible ways to encode)?

Here’s the thing. If you take a Rubix Cube apart and put it together with one piece turned wrong, it becomes unsolvable. But someone who has a mixed up Rubix Cube can only discover that it was put together wrong once they know how to solve a Rubix Cube. In the case of Dramatica analysis, I’m afraid I’m not able to solve the cube just yet.

I’m in consensus with whatever @Lakis and @hunter go with. I just need to close my eyes while that particular band-aid is ripped off. Up to them if we keep discussing before asking you to jump in, Jim.

This is thread is pretty long so I’m not sure what all you guys have covered, but you may have jumped around a bit. Normally, you would try to encode the IC and RS before worrying about Signposts, I think.

Is the IC Problem Disbelief? Did you look much at that? It seems to make a lot of sense, but having only read a synopsis and skimmed the script a bit, my opinion counts for very little!

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Is it? I’m not in front of my laptop. But I remember no one believes Doc can beat Lightning in the race, and I think no one believes Doc was the Fabulous Hudson Hornet.

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Cool! I was thinking that maybe Doc impacted Lightning by being skeptical about the glory of winning the Cup? Does that come through in the film? Also it sounded like he was spurned by the cup organizers or his sponsors, which is what really ended his career – they didn’t believe in him anymore.

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As a matter of fact, I believe he mentions that it’s “just an empty cup”

He crashed and couldn’t race anymore, ending his …hopes and/or dreams?


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.”


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)


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?


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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OC RESOLVE: Steadfast

DRIVER: Decision
LIMIT: Optionlock
OUTCOME: Failure

(Lightning McQueen)
DOMAIN: Universe
CONCERN: The Future
ISSUE: Preconception vs. Openness
FOCUS: Uncontrolled
SIGNPOST 1: The Future
SIGNPOST 2: Progress
SIGNPOST 3: The Present
SIGNPOST 4: The Past

DOMAIN: Psychology
CONCERN: Becoming
ISSUE: Obligation vs. Rationalization
FOCUS: Feeling
CATALYST: Rationalization
BENCHMARK: Conceptualizing
SIGNPOST 1: Conceptualizing
SIGNPOST 3: Becoming
SIGNPOST 4: Conceiving

(Winning the Piston Cup)
DOMAIN: Physics
CONCERN: Obtaining
ISSUE: Attitude vs. Approach
FOCUS: Oppose
CATALYST: Approach
INHIBITOR: Obligation
BENCHMARK: Understanding
SIGNPOST 1: Obtaining
SIGNPOST 2: Understanding
SIGNPOST 3: Learning

(Doc Hudson & The Residents of Radiator Springs)
CONCERN: The Subconscious
ISSUE: Denial vs. Closure
PROBLEM: Disbelief
FOCUS: Oppose
CRITICAL FLAW: Preconception
SIGNPOST 1: The Preconscious
SIGNPOST 2: The Subconscious
SIGNPOST 3: The Conscious
SIGNPOST 4: Memory


GOAL: Obtaining
COST: The Subconscious
DIVIDEND: The Future

REQUIREMENT: Understanding
PREREQUISITE: Conceptualizing


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!)


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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