One Ring Circus

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Patton, Amanda
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Some say it's a tale as old as time; others say it's the same old story of boy-meets- girl. In any case, my Senior Individualized Project sits within a context that is familiar to almost everyone-the context of the love story. The tradition goes back long before film, since Shakespeare's tragedies ended in death, but his comedies ended in weddings. However, the medium of film has taken up the tradition wholeheartedly, and marriage in movies has become so ingrained in the societal brain that most people could tell you the end of a romantic comedy before the screening even begins. It can be difficult to work within this popular and predictable genre-how can you make a story that seems fresh and different but that still rings true? With my SIP, I wanted to experiment within a familiar story structure and adapt the form of a love story to make a point about a different kind of love: not romantic love, but love for the family. To center a story on an idea of marriage is to immediately identify it as a love story. However, in my SIP, the wedding is what Alfred Hitchcock called a "macguffin." "A macguffin," said Hitchcock famously, "is nothing at all." The term has become commonly used to refer to a plot device that moves the story forward without having any real importance in and of itself. For example, the film "The Maltese Falcon" is a mystery centered around the search for an object-the small statuette of a falcon. At the end of the story, however, the falcon is discovered to be useless and the real story is about what occurred during the search. For my story the proposal is the macgutlin. The plot moves forward as the characters try to plan the perfect proposal. However, the proposal is never completed, and there will never be a wedding between the two lovers. The real story is about what happens through the process of planning the proposal. The theme then, is not really marriage, but engagement. At the beginning of the story, the protagonist claims a need for independence; he feels stifled by the over-involvement of his girlfriend's family in his romantic life. However, through the process of planning a proposal, he is forced to engage with this family on a deeper level and realizes that he doesn't want to be free of ties; he wants to be bound inextricably with people who love him enough to become personally invested in his private life. While he does not end the story as expected, with an engagement to be married, he has begun to engage with the world around him in a different, more intimate way. The form of a traditional romantic comedy centers around two lovers and the obstacles that come between them. For many films, the family of one (or both) of the lovers is one of these obstacles. When I describe the story of my SIP, a story about a man who wants to propose to a woman with a large and intimidating family, a film that comes to mind is, of course, "Meet the Parents." This film begins with a very similar premise: a man has decided to propose to his girlfriend and the only thing standing in his way is her family. The story line of this film follows an arc of a more traditional love story-the protagonist overcomes his obstacle and is able to end the film happily together with his lover. In a climactic interrogation scene: with the father of his bride, the audience hears this telling interchange:
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