Strong Characters

I’ve been thinking about the movie John Carter (Disney) a fair amount the last few days. I happened upon it on television the other night and decided to watch it again.

I was immediately reminded of how much I liked the movie and how I generally loved Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter series. As a youth I probably read the entire series ten or more times. Having loved the written stories so much I remember being excited and a little worried when I heard the movie was coming out.

Now, let me assure you, I am well aware of the reviews for the movie…and I don’t care what they were. I knew the story pretty thoroughly and I think the cinematic version captured the spirit, energy and physicality of the books very well. Perhaps the poor reviews were because the story itself is decades out-of-date and without the deep knowledge I possess, it is difficult to connect with.

But, I digress. I wanted to talk about strong characters and how I think there are some good examples in the movie.

By far my favorite example would be the character of Dejah Thoris. Yes, Lynn Collins, the actress who played the character is a stunningly beautiful woman. That has nothing to do with my opinion at all. The way she portrayed the character does.

Ms. Collins did a fantastic job making Dejah Thoris come alive as a strong, intelligent, kick-ass character. She also was very successful in showing the woman sensitive, noble and vulnerable side. I group her characteristics in this manner because the first set are easier to show than the second. That is definitely true in writing and, I suspect, in acting.

“But wait!” you might say. “Didn’t you just say she was kick-ass? How can she be kick-ass AND vulnerable?”

Assuming you asked that question (and since it plays right into my post, I will) let me begin by saying the two are not mutually exclusive. I think the best, most rounded and believable characters are the ones who exhibit both strengths and weaknesses. After all, that is who we all are, whether we like to admit it or not.

In the movie we get to see a number of different sides of Dejah: accomplished, but still nervous scientist, strong princess, dangerous warrior, vulnerable woman. All of those characteristics made a living, breathing, and most importantly, interesting character.

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