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Free Content Poetic dramaturgy in Andrey Tarkovsky’s Nostalgia (1983): A character without a goal?

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This article centres on the use of a character goal and a character arc as elements to express the theme and the meaning in Andrey Tarkovsky’s Nostalgia (1983). In classical dramaturgy, the goal of the character – what does the character want and what actions may he or she take in order to achieve this goal – is considered to be of the utmost importance. In Tarkovsky’s film, however, the character is passive and there does not seem to be any obvious goal to achieve. Through dramaturgical analysis my aim is to reveal the dramaturgical function of both the character goal and the character arc in Nostalgia. My contention is that a passive character forms part of an extensive dramaturgical system and that it carries more meaning than is apparent on the surface. Usually it is the character goal, what the character desires, that carries the spine of the narration and it is usually the starting point of the story design. I argue that the character arc (inner goal) can also assume this function and, accordingly, we can start the development of the screenplay from the perspective of considering how the character changes or why he/she might change. I also suggest that there is a need to reconsider the centrality of character goal, since the screenwriting theories of the twentieth century emphasize the importance of the character goal at the expense of the character arc. This article forms part of a larger study that aims to define certain characteristics of so-called poetic dramaturgy. As I’m interested in whether or not it is possible to define the features of poetic dramaturgy in a similar way as in classical dramaturgy so that they too can be incorporated into the writer’s craft, I also challenge the conventions of classical dramaturgy.
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Keywords: dramaturgical analysis; inner goal; outer goal; passive character; poetic dramaturgy; reactive character

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Aalto University

Publication date: March 1, 2014

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  • The Journal of Screenwriting aims to explore the nature of writing for the moving image in the broadest sense, highlighting current academic thinking around scriptwriting whilst also reflecting on this with a truly international perspective and outlook. The journal will encourage the investigation of a broad range of possible methodologies and approaches to studying the scriptwriting form, in particular: the history of the form, contextual analysis, the process of writing for the moving image, the relationship of scriptwriting to the production process and how the form can be considered in terms of culture and society. The journal also aims to encourage research in the field of screenwriting, the linking of scriptwriting practice to academic theory, and to support and promote conferences and networking events on this subject.
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