Spider-Man 2 and Aristotle’s Elements of Tragedy
Aristotle’s assessment of the elements of tragedy in poetics can bring clarity to an assessment of a popular movie. That being said, the focuses of Aristotle’s have nearly been reversed in the modern era of movies. Of course, there are film festivals where experimental films are analyzed according to a more traditional understanding like Aristotle’s, but they are not the popular movies. Hollywood action movies like Spider-Man 2. If you apply Aristotle’s ideals to this Hollywood blockbuster, you will find that Spider-Man 2 is a rare exception.
Aristotle believed that the most important part of a tragedy is the plot. Plot is so often glazed over in modern movies and entertainment, in favor of depictions of explosions, romance, death, sex, and/or money. Character is considered the second most important point to a story. Largely, this remains true, because it is hard to create an entertaining story without characters the reader or viewer can sympathize with. Thought is the third most important, but it is not always present in modern movies, much like good diction, the fourth story element. Song almost never exists in modern movies as a storytelling element. The least important part of a story is considered by Aristotle to be Spectacle, often the most praised part of a Hollywood movie.
Spider-Man 2 is a story that has plot at its heart, the very way that Aristotle preferred it. A diagram of the plot of this movie is nearly textbook accurate, with the central struggle surrounding Peter Parker’s sense of identity. He has pressures in every part of his double life that are convincing him to cease to be Spider-Man. This is incredibly tragic, because he can only exist as a normal person by allowing dozens of innocent people to come to harm. Peter’s fallible character is almost entirely accurate to that of the complexity of Oedipus in that way. Peter Parker’s flaws are constantly shown, causing great pity for his character constantly, to the point where his great power is no longer worth it. There is a great amount of fear amassed around Peter’s struggle to protect his aunt and girlfriend who will always be threatened by his vigilantism is elevated by the fact that his power itself starts to fade away. There is great diction in this movie when the true plot climax occurs around halfway through the movie when Peter has a conversation with a doctor about the idea of Spider-man’s powers going away. Peter recovers from his emotional, physical, literal (onto concrete) and metaphoric falls with a renewed confidence when he understands that Spider-Man needs to be, whether Peter can handle it or not. This, of course, leads to a struggle-filled spectacle climax of the movie with successive battles with Doctor Octopus until a similar realization of clarity happens to the villain as well. The tragedy and catharsis comes from the heroic death of the reformed Doctor Octopus as he sacrifices himself to save New York City.
While Spider-Man 2 still uses a lot of spectacle to support the modern audience’s expectation of a movie, this movie contains a sophisticated representation of Aristotle’s opinion on story elements. Granted some changes are made, but this movie is about as good as Hollywood gets.
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- Nintendo releases the Wii U with hardly any first party games
- They take their time to develop them
- Microsoft and Playstation showing off consoles with no games
- Nintendo waiting for both companies to flop at E3
- Nintendo suddenly drops a megaton amount of first party games for the Wii U
- Everybody flocks to it because the other consoles have a higher price point and less games to offer
- Iwata’s face when everything worked out according to plan
Have to reblog this.
If this is real…
My god, a company with ACTUAL foresight.
I might be late for class, but I must always reblog the genius that is Iwata and Nintendo.
Episode One: The Sass Begins
(Enderverse Spoilers) Wait, is this not about the ending of Speaker for the Dead?
Yeah, I just finished Speaker today. It was incredible.
I am about to mention Supernatural in the articles that I write for work. I want it made known that I do not watch the show, but I know ya’ll would be very proud of me for representing one of the big three. I feel I owe it to the site.
The URLs will be given to Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson in an Avengers notebook when they film in Cleveland.