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    the anti-hero's journey..
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    so i'm finding it hard to get my head around the anti-hero's journey.. is this right?

    where the HERO desires something positive and when purusing it faces obstacles, the ANTI-hero or desires something that is negative (is that right???) but how can he face obstacles when the obstacles blocking him from getting what he wants, are blocking something negative... how do the viewers accept this? for example, what is it about Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day, Phil, that allows or forces the viewers to accept when he wants to "live the perfect day" by using Rita for sex, or robs the security guards etc.

    basically what is an anti-hero? how does their journey differ to that of the typical hero?

    thanks in advance


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    Mr. Hollywood Blaine's Avatar
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    I know this isn't just a quick answer to your question but I think you'd do well to study some of the following characters to determine the answer to your question. There are several different anti-heroes here and you might compare your character to any below that might be similar. It's certainly not an exhaustive list and I'm sure others can come up with many more but this should give you a good start.

    Danny Archer from Blood Diamond
    Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver
    Rick Blaine from Casablanca
    Lester Burnham from American Beauty
    Harry Callahan from the Dirty Harry series
    Michael Corleone from The Godfather trilogy
    John Creasy from Man on Fire
    The Dude from The Big Lebowski
    Luke Jackson from Cool Hand Luke
    Léon from Léon or The Professional

    "The Man with No Name," a stock character in westerns popularized by Clint Eastwood in films such as A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

    Tony Montana from Brian De Palma's Scarface
    Snake Plissken from Escape from New York and Escape From L.A.
    Max Rockatansky from the Mad Max series
    Ben Wade from the 2007 version of 3:10 to Yuma
    Yojimbo's nameless protagonist.


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    Senior Member Batutta's Avatar
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    If you look at all the films Blaine just mentioned, what most of them have in common is that they all have a protagonist with whom you can sort of identify with at the outset. They become victims of circumstance, which forces them to pursue a negative path.
    "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no use being a damn fool about it." - W.C. Fields


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    thanks for the list. i've already started watching and reading screenplays that have an anti hero as the protagonist so thanks for the list, it will keep me company for a while.

    i've already watched most of those films but not with my current intention.. but looking back on them, the 'obstacles' in the second acts aren't really "bad" things.. they are bad to the protagonist but if you were to look at them individually, they are good things.. for eg. in Man On Fire, Dakota's character stands in Denzel's way when wanting to isolate himself.. this is a good thing, but still considered an obstacle to the main character? or am i not getting the obstacles right??


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    Senior Member Jawa Ex Machina's Avatar
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    The quick and easy answer is that an anti-hero is just like a regular hero except unethical.
    Like, he can break a law to get what he wants.

    It's the quick and easy answer, but a good rule of thumb I think.


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    so i guess what i'm really trying to ask is, what obstacles does the anti-hero face?? do they oppose him/her of what they WANT or does it oppose what is truly right for them??

    now that i've written the question down i feel the answer is clear.. it opposes what the protagonist wants... even if what they want is negative... hmm

    any thoughts??


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    I'm not sure all the examples above could be considered "anti-heros," but the term is fluid and open to interpretation.

    I would definitely add A Boy and His Dog to the list.

    What about Citizen Kane?

    Full Metal Jacket, Clockwork Orange, The Shining?
    “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” -Warren Buffett, New York Times

    Radiation
    Alternatives
    Hell of a Deal

    pfb



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    i was hoping there would be a discussion about it not a list of films being handed over to me haha. but thanks anyway. believe me, im watching every film that has anything close to an anti-hero and im studying the crap out of it.. it would be nice though if there was someone else who could shed some light because what i end up writing down after watching a film could be completely off...


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    Still Alive Mod Jack Daniel Stanley's Avatar
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    I think there's not as much discussion as you'd like because maybe you're over thinking it.

    Or perhaps there's a logic fallacy in your question. You say "how can he face obstacles when what he wants is a negative?" Why shouldn't someone that wants negative things face obstacles - why wouldn't they? How can he not face obstacles? Aren't the cops going to try to stop him? What happens if average citizens find out? Wouldn't his wife report him? Won't the victim try to stop him? In fact that question is kind of counter intuitive. On the contrary, the more positive the goal, the less obstacles you'll likely face. If it's really bad all of society will be against you. If it's really good only someone selfish or twisted will be against you. If I am trying to help an old woman across the street, no one will try to stop me. If I try to beat her and take her purse, someone will probably try to stop me. Obstacle. So I don't get how wanting a negative creates lack of obstacles. But maybe you're asking something about audience alignment with the protagonist, or how are they supposed to root for what the Main character wants? Those are important issues to address but have nothing to do with will he or won't he face obstacles.

    A character, hero or anti-hero, wants to achieve something. Things stand in his or her way. That makes conflict. Conflict makes drama.

    You don't have to judge whether the obstacles are good or bad from your moral standpoint or the audiences moral standpoint for there to be conflict and a journey. Where the audience's sympathies lie is another question, but it may inform whatever it is you're having difficulty with, which I don't 100% get.

    Are the audience's sympathies meant to be aligned with the anti-hero? i.e., American Beauty, or against the anti-hero, i.e., American Psycho.

    AND ... Does the anti-hero really want a negative, or does he just go about seeking a positive in an unacceptable way? "The Man With No Name" Clint Eastwood characters all want justice. They exist in a time of chaos and lawlessness and because of their hardened nature, can do things no one else in the story can that need to be done for the greater good. Kevin Spacey's character in American Psycho probably wants something like "to be fully alive" which is not a bad thing, he's just going about it by trying to schtoop teenagers rather than punching out the real estate king humping his wife and taking her on a weekend cruise - OR - divorcing her so she can shtoop the real estate guy in peace and starting to date a 25 year old himself. Either would be better than the solution he initially chooses. But he also shows compassion and sensitivity and insight throughout the film and stops short of doing the the "bad thing" realizing that's not what he really wants.

    American Psycho or Devil's Rejects, on the other hand, are strange viewing experiences intended to challenge the audience by intentionally exploring the kind of thing (I think) you are asking about - completely unredeeming bad guys that want bad things but they are the protagonists while the more-or-less good guys are the angtaogonists.

    Which - it may help to clarify some terms. These are soft but this is the way I use them.

    PROTAGONIST - what you are probably calling a hero. The person we see the most of that wants thing X and drives the movie. (the offense)
    ANTAGONIST - the person that wants the opposite of what the PROTAG wants and tries to stop him.
    MAIN CHARACTER - the person through whose eyes we see the movie and whith whom we identify.

    I use HERO to mean when the PROTAG and MAIN CHARACTER are the same character - they aren't always. HERO to many will mean someone who goes on a HERO's JOURNEY as outlined by JOSEPH CAMPBELL. A "HERO's JOURNEY" will always imply Joseph Campbell's definition of HERO, which is not just someone who wants something and faces obstacles as your mentioned, but someone who does that but also goes through many specific beats such as finding friends to help and having a death like experience and many other things.

    Examples where the protagonist and main character are not the same - TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD - Scout, the little girl, is the MAIN CHARACTER and we see through her eyes the story of the PROTAGONIST, her Dad Atticus, as he goes out and drives the main plot of the book and fights the good fight. SHAWSHANK redemption where Tim Robbins character is the PROTAG, driving the change and Morgan Freeman's character is the character that we see and understand the movie through. Speaking of Morgan Freeman - he's the MAIN CHARACTER (in this definitiion) and Clint Eastwood is the PROTAG in all (I think) of their movies together.

    So ...

    Any PROTAGONIST that wants something can and should face obstacles whether he's a HERO or an ANT-HERO and it shouldn't be any more or less difficult to throw obstacles in his path whether he wants something good or bad. There's the MacGuffin that each side wants - the protagonist side, and the antagonist side, makes no difference who's positive or negative, good or bad. Only how you want the audience to relate to the main character (American Beauty) or not (American Psycho, Devil's Rejects). And that should come from your central idea about the story you want to tell.
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    Still Alive Mod Jack Daniel Stanley's Avatar
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    Just thinking some more about your question - maybe you mean negative as "not wanting something" and positive as "wanting something" so how can someone face obstacles that doesn't want something?

    All protagonists want a positive (in the sense above). If Batman is your protag, he wants to bring order to Gotham. Antagonists also want a positive, not just the negative of what the protag wants. The Joker doesn't really want "to stop Batman", the surface definition of an ANTAGONIST (a negative). The Joker wants "to take over the city" for his own greed or "to create chaos" to satisfy his psychotic yearnings. If the Joker is your protag, then switch those two sentences. In both cases they are after the same McGuffin - CONTROL OVER GOTHAM, because that allows Batman to bring order/justice or that allows Joker to run it to for his own benefit / or to satisfy his crazy bent for destruction.

    It's just a matter of who's movie you make, is it called THE JOKER, or BATMAN. The one we know the most about and who DRIVES the movie for change is likely the protagonist. And here you can get into a whole mess of semantics, because again, your really just have two rugby teams fighting over the same ball whichever way you look at it. If the bad guy is driving the plot then people will call the PROTAGONIST a REACTIVE PROTAGONIST, which is kind of an oxy moron, and the bad gut the An ACTIVE ANTAGONIST. BUT in the strictest sense of the definition, if it is the Joker that's driving the movie and Batman is always just reacting, then the Joker would be the protagonist and Batman would be the antagonist regardless of where our sympathies lie. It's just hard for people to think of the protagonist as a bad guy and not the main character, hence the Reactive Protag, Active Antag labels.

    Easiest to just think of it as two rugby teams and decide which you want to focus on and which you want the audience to sympathize with if either.
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