In the previous article, we gave an overview about Quadra values on screen. This article delves into the main features of films emphasising values of the Delta Quadra, in terms of characterisation and narrative structure.
Delta protagonists can show the following characteristics:
1) A flawed person for whom the audience can sympathise, going through a positive transformation. An example would be King George VI in “The King’s speech” (2010). Upon his coronation, the protagonists needs to undergo speech therapy in order to overcome his limitation and fulfil his duty as the king of the United Kingdom.
2) An extremely competent person, who is able to apply practical knowledge to solve problems and improve reality. An example would be Matt Watney (LSE), the protagonist of Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” (2015). As exemplified on the video below, Matt demonstrates intelligence and resourcefulness, finding creative solutions within an extreme natural environment, relying solely on his own scientific knowledge.
3) A more idealised version of a Delta protagonist would be an exemplary individual, who stands out due to their high moral standards and their ability to initiate change in situations or in other people. An emblematic character embodying this Delta “hero” is Juror 8 (EII) in “Twelve angry men” (1957), a compassionate individual who has the courage to challenge the unanimous opinion of the rest of the jury. Facing the task of defining a verdict in a murder trial, Juror 8 emphasises the value of the life at stake and prompts the other jurors to consider different options, as shown on the scene below. Thanks to the protagonist, the jury goes through a process of self-awareness and growth, coming to terms with the roots of their own prejudices.
Narrative structure of Delta stories
In Delta works, the antagonistic force usually takes the shape of an obstacle which triggers change in characters or groups. This can be embodied by a specific character (i.e. the villain) as well as hostile situations and/or social norms that are considered obsolete.
While the negative traits of the villain might be emphasised in the context of their impact and interaction with the protagonist, the villain is not usually depicted as indisputably evil. In fact, Delta narratives might delve deeper into the villain’s background and motives, offering psychological grounding of their actions and often proposing an arc of redemption. Similarly, a more abstract antagonistic force, such as social bigotry or cynicism, would often highlight the shortcomings in human nature which can potentially be surpassed (usually thanks to intervention of the protagonist).
In a Delta happy ending, the antagonistic force will be overcome, solving the protagonist’s’ struggle. This might happen because the villain has been defeated by the protagonist or (even better!) has redeemed themselves. An example of redemption arc can be seen in the first instalment of the “Ice Age” franchise (2002). At the beginning of the film, Diego is depicted as a ruthless predator in charge of getting revenge by killing the human baby. However, upon befriending the main characters, he switches side and turns against the pack of saber-toothed tigers in the final battle.
In cases where the antagonistic force has an abstract nature, happy endings will involve the removal of the obstacle by means of character evolution. For instance, Disney’s “Zootopia” (2016) ends with both individual and collective transformation leading to an improved, harmonious and inclusive society.
In a tragic narrative, the main character(s) and the rest of the ensemble would be unable to evolve and abandon their flaws. An example of Delta tragedy is Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain” (2005). In this movie, the romance between the two main characters is challenged not only externally by the social bigotry of 1960s’ South, but also by Ennis Del Mar’s (SLI) internal struggle. During the two decades covered in the film, Ennis is unable to let go of his fears, preventing him from ever achieving happiness with his lover Jack Twist (IEE), as exemplified in the scene below. Despite Ennis’ lack of growth, the audience is meant to sympathise with his weakness as a result of an adverse social context.
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- Quadra values on screen
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- Beta Quadra on Screen
- Gamma Quadra on Screen
- Delta Quadra on Screen