Save the Last Dance and Cool Runnings

In order to answers this question I have looked at the two films; Save the Last Dance and Cool Runnings. Both films were produced in the 20th Century, and the main storyline that occurs is where the characters are placed somewhere they don’t fit in and have to adapt and beat the odds to succeed. Several theorists have tried to establish a norm, like a sense of system within a film narrative. Something for which every film should abide by. Propp said that it was possible to group characters and actions in every film into; A villain, the hero, the donor, the helper, the princess, her father the dispatcher and the false hero.

He stated that stories often follow the same highly predictable order. Todorov argued that all stories begin with an equilibrium where any potentially opposing forces are in balance. Barthes suggested that narratives work with 5 different codes, which activate the reader to make sense of it. Particularly codes of enigma, which works to keep setting up little puzzles to be solved not juist in the beginning but all the way through the story by the audience. Levi-Strauss argued that the audience were less interested in the order of events were arranged in the plot and looked beneath them for arrangements of themes.

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For example in the western genre in the 1970’s that the Sheriffs, outlaws and native Americans not only existed in narrative terms but could be seen as making up systematic binary oppositions among others. MTV Film’s Save the Last Dance reflects this reality. It’s a lightweight teen drama/romance about a Vermont ballerina in Chicago’s South Side. Julia Stiles plays Sara, the promising young dancer dealing with her mother’s sudden death and her relocation to Chicago to live with her jazz-cat father in a predominantly black neighbourhood.

Here Sara meets Chenille (Kerry Washington) and her brainy brother Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas), who also happens to be a skilful hip-hop and step dancer. A natural attraction emerges between the high schoolers. With Derek’s guidance, Sara sets out to unleash her inner sista-and possibly to revive dreams of Juilliard now that she’s received the funk injection. At the start of this film we wee Sara, portrayed as a young innocent girl on a train. The picture is very dark and so we no it is some time in the winter.

During this scene we see flash back of Sara and someone who appears to be her mom. These start the codes of enigma (Barthes) in the audiences mind as we try to understand why see looks so miserable. Eventually we see the reason and it is because of her mother death. The equilibrium is set here as she just looks like the normal teenager girl, then we see the depths of her torment and the story begins. The main character in this story undoubtedly is Sara, and so the story is sort of told from her side although she does not tell it herself.

We sympathise with her and the situation she is in. The actors in this film have been typecast a lot as it would not work with different cultures/races apart from the ones that are in it. The characters have been chosen as they fit in with the hip-hop genre. Sean Patrick Thomas is a very good-looking black male, so appeals to the teen target audience and also he fits into the role of Derek well. I believe Julia Stiles was chosen for the role because she appeals to the teen market audience also and because she does look like a stereotypical ‘white girl’ with blonde hair.

I think that if someone with brown/black hair would have been chosen it wouldn’t have been as effective. The audience expect Derek and Sara to get together and they expect the story to have a happy ending. Although I don’t think the death at the start of the film was expected and I believe it throws the audience into thinking that it is the end of her dancing days. The title of the Film ‘save the last dance’ gives the audience a brief explanation of what the film is about and so I think the audience expect a romantic drama.

The film is all about music and dancing and so the soundtrack is very important. The theme tunes that everybody can recognise from the film are Ice Cube – ‘U can do put ya back in to it. ‘ And Fredro star ‘True Colours. ‘ The music that is playing at the end of the film when Sara is completing her last audition is very dramatic and I think the director has chosen this to portray the importance of the event, which other wise would have been difficult to do.

MTV is known for complex, often-provocative imagery, none of which lingers onscreen long enough to make an impact. The same can be said of Save the Last Dance. The film is agile and aware, but not particularly curious. Excellent lead performances by Thomas and Stiles make it fly, however. Under Thomas Carter’s direction (Swing Kids) they perform with gusto and sensitivity, leaving one to wonder what would have happened with a meatier script. Directed by Thomas Carter, Written by Duane Adler and Cheryl Edwards. There really was a Jamaican bobsled team.

And if the movie “Cool Runnings” can be trusted, the Jamaicans practiced on a bobsled with wheels, in the absence of any snow in their native land. Then they went to the winter Olympics, where the crowds cheered their pluck, if not their speed. The problem with a story like this is that it’s almost too perfect. It tends to break out of the boundaries of the typical sports movie, and undermine those easy clichi?? s that are so reassuring to sports fans. The Olympics have fostered a cult of excellence in which athletes become superhuman, and victories are measured in a tenth of a second.

If a bunch of guys can get there by practicing in a bobsled with wheels, nothing is sacred. Let me assure you that what I have described is not this movie, but virtually every movie of its genre. In this film we have an omniscient view of the story as we follow the Jamaican Bobsled team on their journey. The actors are all typically Jamaicans with their laid back attitudes and also the ex bobsled American actor John Candy. We can now expect that this film will be a comedy because of the actors that are typecast in it.

The audience I think from the cover and the nature of the film expect it to be a lighthearted comedy, and this is what they get. The film doesn’t try and hide itself behind another genre of film, but instead puts itself out on the self as a comedy filmThe sound track to the film is basically songs that the characters sing them selves. The one main ‘jingle’ that is probably most remembered is ‘feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up it’s bobsled time… COOL RUNNINGS! ‘ Played just before they push off down the hill.

The opening sequence we see, Derice training for something as we see him running through the town saying hi to all the locals. This portrays that it is a family film and gives the audience a basis on what the film is going to be about, sport laughter and fun! It is a typical Walt Disney film, but the ending I feel creates a puzzle for the audience as when the team fail to win the Olympics and fall at the final hurdle due to a technical fault, we are left wondering what will happen to the men and if they will return to their homeland as heroes or losers.

You’ll love cool runnings – inspired by the true story of Jamaica’s first Olympic bobsled team. Four unlikely athletes, one impossible dream, with the help of an ex-champion as their coach (john candy – uncle buck), four Jamaicans left their sunny island home and entered the chilly winter Olympics to compete for the gold in a sport they know nothing about – bobsled racing! Finding courage from each other to give it their all, they met the challenge, and soon became heroes – taking the whole world along for the ride!

Staring Leon as Derice Bannock, Doug E. Doug as Sanka Coffie, and John Candy as ‘Coach. ‘ Directed by John Turteltaub. In Conclusion both films are very effective at telling their stories to the best that the script allows. Both films are not very original but the little twists that they have in them, for example Save the last Dance in the ghetto and Cool runnings about a Jamaican bobsled team make the films in my view classics. They follow the narrative theories for their genre to some extent but not fully.