Rio, The Movie: How to tell a strong story

Screen shot 2011-04-14 at 1.06.28 PMYesterday, thanks to a dear friend, I had the privilege of witnessing a Crew Premiere for the multi-million dollar film, Rio. I watched the film mesmerized, completely drawn into the narrative. As a storyteller myself and someone that’s working on a middle-school fantasy fiction novel (is that a genre!?), I learned a lot from how Rio was made. Here are some of the elements or in an author’s word, “tensions” that made the story so gripping:

Brazil vs. Minnesota: Brazil, is without a doubt a character in the film. The juxtaposition of Brazil with Minnesota made it even more alluring and alive. The music, the colors, the accents, the favelas, the Carnival – one might say that the movie has taken every possible Rio sterotype and jammed it into the movie. But the exotic works.

Birds vs. Humans: I thought it was clever that the movie had two parallel story lines. Two sets of hero-heroines and villains. As Blu falls in love with Jewel, Linda falls for Tulio and the changes in all the characters are quite heart-warming.

Rare bird with a psychological disability: The plot itself created a lot of tension in the film: Blu is the last male blue mackaw of its kind. And he cannot fly. You know there’s going to be an interesting twist when you give the central character such strong strengths and weaknesses.

Coterie of colorful “bird” characters: One aspect the film lacked was a sidekick. I think the movie had a great cast of supporting characters but it would have been nice if they were consistent throughout to build a strong story arc. A lot of new characters were introduced and I kept wondering which one of them is important/ key. Turns out, all of them were and none of them were. If you know what I mean. (There’s Louis the dog, the woodpecker, the tweety-like bird, and the fat cockatoo – and then there’s the monkeys.)

All in all, I think I might have learned a lot more about how to craft a strong story from this movie than I have from traditional fiction writing books. As a marketer, perhaps I should also mention how clever the Rio + Angry Birds promotion is! 😛

One Comment

  1. Nitya April 14, 2011

    Nice, must watch this movie!
    The tension around the central character reminds me of Shrek, the classic contradiction of ‘Good but ugly ogre’. Thinking aloud, is there a ‘female’ protagonist that falls within the ‘Good but ugly’ contradiction? Strangely most that exist, eventually transform to resolve the ‘ugly’ contradiction.

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