For 36 days straight, we’ll be exploring the famous 36 Dramatic Situations by examining a film that exemplifies each one. From family killing family to prisoners in need of asylum, we brush off the 19th century list in order to remember that it’s still incredibly relevant today.
Whether you’re seeking a degree in Literature, love movies, or just love seeing things explode, our feature should have something for everyone. If it doesn’t, please don’t send us a message in a bottle.
Part 29 of the 36-part series takes a look at “Deliverance” with the Disney animated classic The Rescuers.
Two mice from the Rescue Aid Society head down to the bayou of Louisiana to rescue a young girl whose been kidnapped by a greedy woman whose after the world’s largest diamond.
“Deliverance” is a situation of helplessness that evolves into one of triumph because of a hero. It requires An Unfortunate, A Threatener and a Rescuer. Pretty simple.
However, it delineates itself from other situations – most notably “Supplication” – by having the hero swoop out of nowhere to save the day. In the case of Penny, the little kidnapped girl from our story, she sends a message in a bottle out into the wilds of the world in the hopes to be saved. It’s a long shot, but in this case it brings Bernard and Miss Bianca to the rescue. It’s no doubt that Penny is the Unfortunate, Bernard and Bianca are the Rescuers and the dastardly Madame Medusa is the Threatener.
As much as profiling Deliverance would have been great for “Deliverance,” the film (despite the name) doesn’t actually fit into the category because there’s no outside hero that saves the canoeing party. In fact, it’s unclear whether anyone is truly saved by the end of that movie. Luckily, there are thousands of great examples of this particular situation because it speaks to a larger archetype – the Christ story. Or the Gilgamesh story if you want to go back further.
In one way or another, we’ve all been in a position that Penny finds herself in. Maybe there’s no crazy redhead that wants us to sneak into a tiny hole in order to get a diamond, but helplessness is as universal feeling as it gets. It’s a desperation that lent itself to sending out a message in a bottle as a last resort, a Hail Mary pass made of recyclable glass.
It’s in that moment where all seems lost that the hero finds the best entry point. Here, there are two charming figures in the form of Bernard the janitor and Bianca the socialite – two mice who have taken on the dangerous task of bringing a little one back home safely. Here, there’s the added bonus of making the heroes so small because it’s a reminder that a savior can come in any shape and any size.
Bonus Examples: Saving Private Ryan, Superman, Cast Away (partial)
Supplication – The Most Dangerous Game
Deliverance – The Rescuers
Crime Pursued By Vengeance – Death Wish
Vengeance Taken For Kindred Upon Kindred – The Lion King
Pursuit – Silence of the Lambs
Disaster – Airplane!
Falling Prey to Cruelty/Misfortune – Misery
Revolt – Lucky Number Slevin
Daring Enterprise – The Professionals
Abduction – The Chaser
The Enigma – Se7en
Obtaining – There Will Be Blood
Enmity of Kin – Once Were Warriors
Rivalry of Kin – Grumpy Old Men
Murderous Adultery – Match Point
Madness – Grizzly Man
Fatal Imprudence – The Fly
Involuntary Crimes of Love – Oldboy
Slaying of Kin Unrecognized – Halloween
Self-sacrifice for an Ideal – Hunger
Self-sacrifice for Kin – Harakiri
All Sacrificed for Passion – A Single Man
Necessity of Sacrificing Loved Ones – The Seventh Continent
Rivalry of Superior vs Inferior – Toy Story
Adultery – In the Mood For Love
Crimes of Love – Dog Day Afternoon
Discovery of the Dishonor of a Loved One – Festen
Obstacles to Love – I Love You Phillip Morris
An Enemy Loved – Underworld
Ambition – Wall Street
Conflict With a God – The Truman Show
Mistaken Jealousy – My Best Friend’s Wedding
Erroneous Judgment – The Contender
Remorse – In Bruges
Recovery of a Lost One – Gone Baby Gone
Loss of Loved Ones – Dear Zachary