What are the best examples in movies of holistic thinking?

I assume Luna Lovegood, but whom else? Bonus points for characters who aren’t British eccentrics, children, magical, or family members from far away who have come to help the family during a time of crisis.

I thought the kid in Searching For Bobby Fischer was a good one. I was happy that I sensed his Holistic-ness before checking the storyform, since that storypoint can be tricky for me.

The best thing to do is probably just go here:
http://dramatica.com/analysis/filter (choose MC Problem-Solving: Holistic)

Then look at the movies you know really well. (or ones you feel like watching)

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My wife watched a movie on Amazon. I think it was called ‘if I were you’ or something like that. Some spoilers to follow if you haven’t seen it and plan to.

The MC, who I don’t think was British or eccentric, is being cheated on by her husband. The lady I think was the IC was being ‘the other woman’ with a married man. The MC learns that the IC is the one sleeping with her husband, but the IC isn’t aware of this yet. The MC doesn’t get mad at or yell at or quit talking to the IC over it. When the IC learns and asked why she didn’t do this, the MC says something like ‘because I liked you’. That struck me as a particularly holistic approach.

For extra bonus points—I missed the first few minutes of the movie. I kept trying to figure out what the Goal of the move is, but could never quite do it. I kept thinking I was going to go back and watch the front, but never have. Anyway, I’m thinking there probably wasnt really a very clear goal even if I watch the front. But this holistic MC also struck me as Steadfast. And we know from other conversations that a Steadfast Holistic MC storyform can flip between Success or Failure without changing the storyform. So maybe the reason I couldn’t figure out the Goal is because Success or Failure of the Goal didn’t matter, so it wasn’t made a very strong point in the movie…
…or maybe I’m still just not very good at this.

Curious so I looked it up. Was it good? It got a pretty terrible Rotten Tomatoes score (9%) but I don’t think that’s definitive.

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That’s hilarious. I had no idea the RT was that low. I just looked at IMDB where it’s got a 7 out of 10. It’s not really my kind of thing, so I wouldn’t say I liked it. But I wouldn’t have given it a 9 out 100. I’d say somewhere in the middle. I had a better time trying to analyze it than I did watching it. That said, the only reason I stayed for the whole thing was because I wanted to watch something I knew I wouldn’t be interested in so it wouldn’t distract from me trying to analyze it. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it was a tale rather than GAS, but I also think it was at least trying to be a GAS even if it failed.

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I don’t know how many reviewers it has to be on Rotten Tomatoes to be statistically significant. Now I’m kind of curious though, might have to watch it.

After that rave review, how could you not? Lol. When I say I was trying to analyze it, I wasn’t doing a full one. I was mostly looking for throughline domains and concerns and trying to spot different SPs. Once I decided the MC was holistic, I was also interested in trying to spot examples for that. Since I didn’t catch the first part, there’s a lot I wasn’t able to answer anyway. But like I said, it struck me as Steadfast, Holistic, Optionlock, I think it was probably supposed to be success but I just don’t know, Good. I don’t remember the domains or concerns I came up with. If you do end up watching, let me know your thoughts on it.

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It’s easily one of my favourite movies of all time, so I may be biased, but Amélie is a great example of a Holistic thinker. It also has, for my money, one of the clearest examples of what an Influence Character is that I’ve ever seen.

Everything that Amélie does is about balance. The best example is with the grocer and his son. She sees that the grocer bullies and belittles his son endlessly, and feels a deep compassion to help the young boy. So what does she do? She basically gaslights the father: goes into his apartment, changes the handles around on the doors, swaps his shoes for a slightly smaller pair that won’t fit him, pours salt into his drink, changes his alarm so he turns up to work in the middle of the night, and replaces his toothpaste with foot cream. Basically rigs the apartment to make him think he’s going crazy. After that nightmare, the grocer is so humiliated that he treats his son with respect and Amélie feels satisfied that the situation has been rebalanced.

Another example is between Georgette and Joseph. Amélie can see that neither one of them is particularly happy – an imbalance. To rebalance it, she decides to get them together. How? By convincing Georgette that Joseph is longing for her, telling Joseph that Georgette wants him, and gossiping with the woman in the newsstand about Georgette and Joseph’s love affair. Essentially, she’s setting up all of the necessary conditions that will force them to get together. After that, they can’t help but make eyes at one another and eventually get together (and find happiness, bringing the balance Amélie was searching for).

Also, upon rewatching The Devil Wears Prada a couple days ago, I found that Miranda Priestly is a BIG holistic thinker. She sees the big picture in a way Andy (as a Linear-thinking MC) doesn’t – I think the whole Cerulean Sweater monologue is a perfect example of a holistic thinker:

MIRANDA: Something funny?

ANDY: No. No, no. Nothing’s… You know, it’s just that both those belts look exactly the same to me. You know, I’m still learning about all this stuff and, uh…

MIRANDA: ‘This… stuff’? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.

Andy just thinks “they’re both blue” because that’s all she can see (“They look similar, so it doesn’t really matter”). But Miranda is thinking about where it came from, the work that went into it, the money that went into it, the effects that came from the initial design, the process that went into getting it onto the shelves, and how all of that affects Andy. She’s looking at the relationships and how everything is connected, and using all of that to rebalance the situation and put Andy back in her place.

Also, in the last act: Andy gets wind of a plan to oust Miranda from her job, and tries to warn her, but Miranda doesn’t want to know. Then Miranda betrays Nigel to protect her own job – rebalancing the situation (for now). Of course, linear-thinking Andy could never have seen that coming because she was looking at the world in a cause-and-effect way. She never once considered that Miranda would sacrifice her most loyal friend to protect the ‘balance’ of her life, even though it’s entirely in her nature to do so.


Love your insights. You’ve got a knack for recognizing holistic thinking and describing it. Well done.

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West Wing, Jed Bartlet. See especially episode where he plays chess throughout managing a confrontation in the South China Sea and advises Rob Lowe character to see the WHOLE board.

TV, I realize not movies. Another example:

In the first season, in Star Trek TOS, Shatner has spoken about how he based that early interpretation of Kirk as being internally feminine, playing against Jeffrey Hunter’s interpretation of Pike as masculine thinking. (This is a common acting class choice, FWIW.) Kirk was quiet, observant, and depicted as seeing the whole picture, and because of that, having intuitions that came from non-linear places. “Not chess, Mr. Spock. Poker.” And possibly the most holistic move, ever, at that time: the impulsive move to block Bones charging to the rescue, and let Edith Keeler die, with the effect of everything else in the future happening the way it should. Adjusting a single element to change the entire situation, voilå. All he did was stop McCoy from moving from point A to point B.

In 1966 TV was still mostly doing Drama, because Drama was cheaper, but by the next season, television changed, and Action/Adventure was considered to be the genre that pulled audiences. The network told Star Trek to change, and Kirk became much more linear and masculine in his thinking. The scripts also changed: all those quiet explorations of character became 'exciting adventures in outer space." No more City on the Edge of Forever, and more Doomsday Machine. It’s interesting because of the clear illustration of the change from holistic to linear thinking using a familiar character.

End of Star Trek disquisition.

LATER NOTE: That episode is so engrained in the culture at this point, it pays to remember some specifics. Kirk and Spock, about halfway through the show, know Edith Keeler has to die, but they don’t know HOW she dies, they have no PLAN, except wait for McCoy, who is involved with it ‘somehow’, and Kirk has no idea what he SHOULD do make sure she dies. It all only comes together in a bare moment because of the combination of his leaving Edith on a corner; suddenly running into McCoy; Edith crossing the street; he turns around and sees what’s happening, starts to move towards her, hears Spock: “No, Jim!”–stops AND ONLY THEN knows what he has to do, when all the pieces fly together in his mind, and he acts. Linear thinking? There’s no time to think at all.

When we engage in that kind of action, that kind of ‘thinking’ it’s as if in the moment we become part of something larger than ourselves and move autonomously: if we’re saving a child, if we’re dodging a bullet. It’s not conscious or willed. It’s as if we’re instruments that thinking is being done through. That works for a character because it connects them a larger universal theme, often one of sacrifice.


What about Citizen Kane?

I’d argue the very archetype of male and linear, and that’s what he pays such a terrible price for. forcing that woman to sing in the opera house to get a result–to show EVERYBODY–is linear thinking, blind to all the other effects. Or to run for office and have the affair, in spite of what it’s doing to his family.

I only saw Citizen Kane once and wasn’t crazy about it, honestly. So I couldn’t say.

You’re fired, Jedediah.

I studied it in film school… but I never watched it all the way through. If you can believe that.

I had the enormous advantage of attending many Orson Welles festivals in repertory theaters on the Upper West Side, growing up here. I can’t even imagine watching it on a dreary screen in a dreary house or apartment where you just grind through whatever the bitstream is coughing up. See it in a theater, with an audience. Sit in the back so you can hear the clicks of the projector and hear Orson Welles’s voice booming through the theater auditorium. It’s a MOVIE.

Yeah. Such a different experience. I miss going to movies but I must have Spanish subtitles for my wife.

AND don’t get me started on the overall disappearance of drive through theaters. :unamused:

I watched it on a dreary small tube TV when I was 8, when the movies were shown on TV in the 50’s. I was transfixed for the entire time, not even remembering or bothered by the commercials.”, just remembering face to the tube never looking away. I did not understand what the blond lady had to do with it after his meeting her, but that did not interfere with the attention and impact. When he dropped the snow globe and said ‘rosebud’ at the end, dying, I knew exactly what he meant what he had lost in his childhood and sobbed my heart out. Then when the sled was tossed into the furnace, I really lost it, in overwhelming grief at his loss.

This topic brought it to mind, making me wonder if Wells created an allegory, a metaphor, for displaced and damaged lives as the culture transitioned from farm families to industrialization. Chris said once that children understood the Dramatica theory more easily than adults. (or some such). Something was clear cut about the film that a kid picked up on.

I started to wonder if the fallen globe with the word at the beginning and at the end indicated holistic, an instinctive search for something lost in childhood that never panned out. Each year it was voted the top movie, I wondered how many of the voters had seen it as a child, also


Watched Moneyball earlier as research for the next batch of Contextual Subgenres, and found that Peter Brand is another great example of a holistic character:

Most of the experienced Baseball ‘elite’ (MC Billy Beane, for example) look at the players linearly: ‘we’ve lost our star player, so we need find another star player to replace him or we’ll lose.’

Peter, however, is a player analyst which allows him to look at all of the data holistically. Billy asks him to analyse three players, but he analyses 51. In doing that, he sees all of their history in numbers, and is able to use all of this to create the perfect team of cheap, ‘undervalued’ players that perfectly balance one another to create a huge success: ‘we need to replace our star player with three smaller players that can achieve the same success for less money.’

All of this happens in one or two scenes. Definitely recommended.

Thanks for the tip. Sounds like a fun movie.