Much ado about concept
What are Film Concept Models? Based on Winston Perezʼs
Concept Modeling work, these are cutting edge analysis tools on the
raw material or basic ideas that glue a film together; he assesses all
the ideas that lie underneath the story, plot and character. He calls it
the stuff the audience intuits within a story.
Shakespeare was a concept guy. It is a big part of what made him
great. Much Ado about Nothing is great example of a play (in our time
a film directed by Kenneth Branagh and released in 1993) driven by a
tight, clear, underlying concept.
If you are writing or directing a film, you can think of your idea or your
source material, as a brown lump of conceptual clay. It is a
shapeless, hopefully malleable and uniform, mass. A writer takes it
and mold its; he shapes it. He or she gives it form through structure,
plot, character, character ark or story. This last element, story, can be
the confusing part: Concept and story are linked together tightly, yet
they are very different. Concept goes deeper than story.
The story behind Much Ado centers on the nearly-tragic events
impacting lovers Claudio and Hero. The drama of that plotline is set
against the comedic events involving Benedick and Beatrice. Drama
and comedy are blended masterfully within the play. Yet, the concept
finds it source in none of these four main characters. It is found in the
villain, Don John – his character “carries” the two core concepts that
drive this masterful play.
In the story, Don John tricks Claudio into believing Hero has been
unfaithful. As a result, an enraged Claudio rejects Heroʼs love at the
marriage alter – the beautiful wedding turns tragic, bringing with it
much sorrow, pain and drama.
However, Don John has nothing to do with the mishaps involving the
second couple, Benedick and Beatrice, who are “tricked” by a
conspiracy (perpetrated by their friends) into revealing their deeply
hidden love for each other. Interestingly, though Don John has
nothing to with it, one of the “concepts” housed at the base of his
character does: Trickery.
Shakespeare uses the play to ask simple yet powerful questions
about the most basic human emotions: Love and Hate. Keep in mind
that “concept” itself is layered and this case is involves two concepts,
split into four questions, all joined at the hip.
The first deep layer, or concept, is the question we are all familiar
with: Can you fall in love at first sight? But the twist in that concept is
the second question: Can you fall in hate at first sight? Don Johnʼs
hatred of both Hero and the love he sees between her and Claudio is
instant. He hates at first sight. This is exactly the opposite of Claudio,
who falls in love at first sight. The conflict between those raw
emotion-packed questions set the stage for events that follow. The
two powerful forces, love and hate, go head-to-head, leaving the
audience to ponder, which will win.
The second concept driving Much Ado is “trickery.” Shakespeare
asks: Can you be tricked into hate? Can you be tricked into love?
Claudio has been tricked into hate by Don Johnʼs carefully staged
deception: In the shadows of the night, Claudio sees what he thinks is
Hero in the sexual embrace of another man who cries out her name.
But with our second couple, it is not Don John, but their friends that
execute the trickery. Through a series of highly comical intrigues,
Beatrice and Benedick are each tricked into believing the other has
fallen for him or her. The power of gossip (a better definition or the
actual word “nothing” used in the title of the play) and circumstance
are used to execute the cupid-like strategy. As it turns out, the tricks
work and the end result reveals the truth: They do in fact love each
other deeply – perhaps something that had been there all along.
In this story, or this case, the core concept buried deep within the
story can be phrased in the four questions I mention above. But
notice that those questions have “Nothing Ado” about the story, plot,
characters and dialogue. Yet, the core concept informs all of them.
With that in place, it is up to the master playwright to execute on the
concept, or raw material.
Trickery and hatred are used to reveal the hidden greatness of true
Concept drives Much Ado and the reason is clear: It is what connects
the story to us. In all his plays, Shakespeare utilizes concepts – they
are the key to his mastery of the art form.
Shakespeare is definitely, Much Ado About Concept.