[watch] Killing in the Name Of: When and Why Good Characters Die


In terms of moving a plot forward, nothing works quite like killing someone. Now admittedly, death is often the end, but in terms of movies, this is mostly just true if we’re talking about the death of a film’s antagonist. For example in Tim Burton’s BATMAN, the movie ends when The Joker dies because, well, he was the threat and that threat now resolved, there’s no more of the story to tell. But when it’s the protagonist who dies, or at least a character we care for, that is an event that inspires, that motivates, that propels the narrative forward: for this example, pick your Uncle, Luke Skywalker’s Owen or Peter Parker’s Ben.

The decision to kill a character, along with the method and timing, is an important one to any filmmaker and not to be made lightly. Stories hinge on moments like these, they are made or broken by them: THE GODFATHER needs Sonny to die, but when Wash dies in SERENITY it just feels mean.

In the following analysis from Jack’s Movie Reviews, “Let’s Discuss Killing a Character,” that’s exactly what he’s up to, examining the various purposes served by killing off heroes and other such pure=hearted characters, and the various ways in which this is pulled off. Now, naturally, given its subject matter, there are ample spoilers ahead. So instead of providing a list of films featured after the video, I’m giving it to you this time before. Give it a scan and if you’re safe to proceed, go gently into the good night of these famous and beloved characters.

Star Wars Original Trilogy
The Lion King
Black Swan
Gran Torino
The Green Mile
The Godfather
The Revenant
American Beauty
Last Temptation of Christ
The Exorcist
The Iron Giant
Pulp Fiction
Full Metal Jacket
Fruitvale Station
Forrest Gump
Citizen Kane
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Rocky IV

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist