Pixar’s Cars analysis

@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.


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).


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.


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.


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.)


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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I think we have to nag @jhull on that :grin:

Believe it or not, I did already have it on my schedule to watch again this week.


But are we sure the MC isn’t…oh, never mind. :smile:

I finally found time to watch this film again (even though I’ve probably seen it a hundred times over the years).

I really like the Hinder to Help character arc for McQueen’s Changed Resolve. In the beginning he dismissed anyone who gets in his way—even his teammates. And at the end he’s helping a competitor across the finish line…

…which brings me to the first Storypoints—the Story Outcome. While I completely understand the rationale that McQueen lost the race, you have to understand that the Overall Story isn’t about the race alone. It’s about bringing back something that was lost—and with that in mind, it’s a Success story.

Radiator Springs regains its customer base, Mater gets a ride in a helicopter, McQueen gets invited to be the face of Dinoco (what he really wanted)—and the only Antagonist, Chick Hicks, loses.

Appreciating the argument in that context, the Story Driver is Action. The three-way tie forces McQueen out onto the open road. The hospitality of Radiator Springs drives McQueen to change his mind to want to stay. And his final gesture of helping the King across the finish line restores vitality for all.

This gives the MC plot progression a more accurate assessment of the narrative (and what totally stood out during my most recent viewing).

In the beginning, McQueen is on the road to fame and fortune. Life is Progressing and the face of Dinoco is changing.

Then he gets stuck in Radiator Springs and suddenly that dream turns to an imagined nightmarish Future where Chick takes his spot.

After the midpoint, McQueen finds himself completely focused on the Present and how much he wants to stay there. He even seems to forget about the race he is so Present.

And that the end he revisits his Past race and the time he had with all his friends back in that hillbilly hell.


Well, it turns out that Outcome and Driver were the two we fought over significantly in this thread, so out of anything those are what I expected to be a bit off.


Very interesting Jim. Well, now I feel sheepish as I was the one arguing for Failure/Good.

I guess was a little unclear about the difference between a story where the protagonist doesn’t really understand what the goal is vs. a story where the protagonist fails and realizes that the goal wasn’t what he/she really wanted.

But I guess there’s also a distinction I wasn’t keeping in mind (which I think I understand better now) of the general OS Concern that manifests itself in many ways and the specific Goal of the story.

Thanks for circling back.

Yes. If you want to join in on my learning experience, check out the podcast for La La Land. That’s where I was schooled in the difference between Failure and Success.

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This is great … I was never totally happy with Failure because it seemed like the Becoming consequence we illustrated wasn’t really a consequence in terms of the story’s argument – it was shown as too “good” of a thing. (Not that I argued for Success though; I had trouble seeing it either way).

In fact, I like how since this is a Stop story, there is an aspect of the Becoming consequence in place, with Radiator Springs dying out, but then because of the Success they turn that around.

(sorry for the late response, I’m away right now)