Gamma Quadra on screen

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As described on the first article around Quadra values on screen, Gamma movies are plot-driven, with twists and psychological introspection on characters. Their narratives usually offer a snapshot of the darker aspects of human nature and society.

As such, they can fall under one of the following three categories. The first type draws more heavily on intuition and logic (Ni + Te) , while the other two focus on the other block (Se + Fi), hence entailing a form of (covert or overt) power struggle.

  1. The more cerebral films depict the shortcomings of reality as a whole (Ni + Te) and often use a cynical tone. It is not uncommon for Gamma stories to expose the grimmest faces of the establishment, institutions, culture and other facets of society. An example of this narrative is David Fincher’s “Fight Club” (1999). Not only does this movie criticise the dehumanising impact of consumerism on individuals, but it also unveils the narrator’s turn to another form of tribalism (i.e. a violent terrorist group) as inevitable alternative. In the scene below, Tyler Durden (SEE) teaches his life philosophy and view of the world (Ni + Te) to the narrator, using force and pain (Se) as means of learning.
  2. Covert power struggle can manifest in the form of the protagonist’s individual competitiveness and ambition to find a place in society, as well as the tendency to push moral boundaries to meet their impulses and desires. An example from this category are Martin Scorsese’s “The wolf of Wall Street” (2013). The former tells the real story of how Jordan Belfort’s (LIE) made a fortune by adopting fraudulent techniques and ripping off his customers.The movie shows Belfort’s cunning abilities in understanding the broker’s market and plotting his business’ schemes (Te+ Ni). In addition, several scenes emphasise the slyness in his sales style, when he tries to earn his customers’ trust (Fi + Se) to convince them to purchase rubbish stocks. This is particularly obvious in the scene below, where Belfort using metaphors paints a picture of his company’s “mission”, knowing what his potential customers might be seeking for before making an investment (Fi + Se in support of Te). 
  3. Overt power struggle is depicted as open rivalry and conflict between individuals or groups, involving inevitable betrayals and psychological manipulations as means to win. Many popular contemporary TV series, such as the Walking Dead (2010-2019), Game of Thrones (2011-2019), the Borgias (2011-2014) and Peaky Blinders (2013-2019), are Gamma and fall under this category. When it comes to the big screen, good examples arise from Sergio Leone or Quentin Tarantino’s filmography. In the “Hateful Eight” (2015), a blizzard draws all characters to a lodge, where the conflict between them is gradually unveiled, ending up with everyone’s death. After the General gets killed, the movie shows an escalation of tension (Se) between the characters, playing with what is not said (Fi). This is particularly evident in the Chapter 4 linked below, where Daisy Domergue is aware that the coffee had been poisoned, yet she deliberately chooses not to say anything while her guard John Ruth drinks the coffee. Instead, the camera locks on her smiling face (Fi), unveiling her satisfaction about John Ruth being doomed and establishing a shift in the power dynamics between the two characters (Se + Fi). 

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Cinematic style and Socionics: a comparison between Beta and Delta

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Following our previous articles about core themes and narratives in Beta and Delta movies,  here we compare the main cinematic features found in their movies. As discussed on the previous piece,since these Quadras value opposite aspects, significant differences arise in terms of visual style and acting. As usual, we will be analysing films’ contents, so beware of spoilers!

The tone of Beta films involves intensified delivery (Fe + Ni). This is achieved by a theatrical, colourful and striking way of acting. An example can be Jack Sparrow (EIE) in the “Pirates of the Caribbean, the curse of the Black Pearl” (2003), who captures the attention with his striking manners. Everything he does is a performance, a way to transmit his personality, even when he is alone. Jack Sparrow’s entrance can be seen on the video below: 

In contrast to Beta, the style of Delta movies involves a Realistic* rendition of characters and situations (Te+Si). This is achieved through a careful choice of sceneries, costumes, sound effects, dialogues and acting style that are as close as possible to the common reality which the movie is portraying. In the below scene from Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” (2017), the style of direction, as well as lights and sounds, describe the situation without cinematic indulgences, helping the audience immerse in the experience of the characters.

Power dynamics (Se) play an important role in Beta films. They are expressed through the use of physical space and body language, such as characters’ stance and position in physical space and in relation to material objects and other characters. In this scene from the 1959’s movie “Warlock”, Blaisdell’s character shows his control over the situation by remaining where he was – at the bar counter when he is called by an opponent. He then moves slowly and positions himself directly in front of his opponent, literally and figuratively facing him. His response comprises self-assured mockery with an implied threat. The dialogue that happens between him and his opponent uses metaphors (Ni) that cleverly follow one another in a logically consistent way (Ti) – the “blinding” glow of the gold handles of his colts being used to describe his obtruding presence in town.  “What if someone painted the handles black for you?” – “That might do. [pause] But who’s to do it?”.

As opposed to Beta films’ interest and showcase of external conflict, Delta movies focus on exploring characters’ internal struggle and experiences. Such introspection is often delivered in a subdued way, refraining from explicitly stating characters’ feeling and intentions. Instead, the scene will slow down to emphasise small physical details (Si) as well as the subtext through the actors’ facial expressions (Fi), assigning meaning to silences. This is visible in the final scene of 2004’s film “Brokeback Mountain”, linked below. In the ending, the audience finds out that, 20 years before, the protagonist Ennis Del Mar (SLI) had stolen Jack Twist’s (IEE) shirt as a token of his presence. Along with a close-up on Ennis’ moved expression, the revelation about the shirt is a hint to love and desires which he had kept secret all those years.

Stepping into the ethical domain, Beta films wallow in a soul-stirring passion. Those are the scenes where the close-ups may come into play to transmit the intensified emotions (Fe + Ni) to the audience. Here is an example of emotional close-up where it intensifies rage – movie clip from the “Gunfight at the OK Corral” (1957) shows Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday mad with a repressed rage, as he makes an effort not to brace Johnny Ringo because Doc gave a word to his lawman friend that there won’t be any fighting (see scene below).

Depending on the film genre, it is not uncommon for Delta stories to include inspiring motivational dialogues or magical/absurd elements adding meaning to the real world. A very clear example of the former is this famous speech from “Dead poets society” (1989), where John Keating (IEE) encourages his students to make the most of their lives and to become the best versions of themselves, as shown on the video below.

The injection of supernatural elements into real-life situations can be noticed in all movies by director Guillermo del Toro, such as the below scene from “Pan’s labyrinth” (2006). In this movie, the protagonists Ofelia (EII) interacts with the magical beings populating her garden labyrinth, while important real-life events are affecting her family and the historical surrounding.

*in this context, this term refers to the connotation describing the literary/artistic movement

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Beta Quadra on Screen

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Beta Quadra is heavily underrepresented on screen. Therefore for the sake of illustrating the Beta protagonist I will use some examples where Beta story is a subplot of films of other Quadras.

Beta Protagonist

Beta presents their protagonists as larger-than-life characters, who don’t surrender in the face of overwhelming obstacles and defy the reality or die trying. Beta protagonists are strong-willed, passionate and single-minded individuals with an absolute focus on what they want.

In the course of the film they might be:

1. Fighting for a goal The protagonist has a certain goal and goes after it despite the hardships on the way. An example of this kind of protagonist is Jack Sparrow (EIE) from the Pirates of Caribbean. It’s an Alpha film in the sense that it is story driven (Aztec gold curse and plot twists and turns are at the heart of it), but Jack Sparrow’s storyline is very Beta. He has one goal – to get back the Black Pearl.

2. Finding a driving force This is normally an unexpected epiphany,  “being-hit-by-something” that drives the protagonist, puts the hero in danger and paves the way for the final conflict. This is usually the case for a love story – when the hero endangers himself for the sake of love.

This can be seen in the romantic storyline of the Music Man (1962). It’s another Alpha film with Beta subplot and even a Beta protagonist – Harold Hill ( SLE ). He achieves what seemed to be his goal – successfully conning the people of River City, but surrenders it all when he realises he is in love. What is important here is that there is no change to his character – he doesn’t surrender because he sees the err of his ways, but purely because of his emotions towards the girl. 

3. Losing the vision of themselves The obstacles try to sway or force the protagonist and trick him in betraying who he believes he is. The ‘vision’ here has a holistic meaning (Ni) and is also Fe (I am this cause I like this) and should not be confused with Fi social identity.

In Warlock (1959) the protagonist Clay Blaisdell ( LSI ) is swayed from his image of being the shootist and starts thinking he should settle down and effectively surrender his personality.

Antagonistic force in Beta films

Obstacles in beta films are hostile agents that are to be overpowered in order to preserve one’s character intact, because change equals defeat.

Antagonistic force in Beta films will be often ‘faceless’ – represented by a crowd, gang, community or society rather than by an individual. This is the case for the Fighting for a goal narrative as in this narrative the antagonistic force is there purely to provide obstacles preventing the protagonist from reaching their goal. In the Pirates of Caribbean both other pirates and the British navy are the antagonistic force.

In the Finding a driving force narrative the antagonistic force is again usually ‘faceless’, but in this case to create a danger that the protagonist chooses to confront or accept as inevitable rather to avoid. In the Music Man (1962) the protagonist chooses to stay on and face the mob of people he has conned rather than skip the town while he still can.  

In the case of Losing the vision of themselves narrative the antagonistic force will be more often represented by a particular individual who is a carrier of the idea of what the protagonist should become. Since change of an admirable character (and the protagonist in Beta films has to be one to be admired – Ni, Fe) equals defeat, it is in itself harmful – regardless of whether the antagonist’s agenda is indeed to hurt the protagonist, or the antagonist has the best intentions at heart. The antagonist is often able to sway the protagonist because the protagonist falls for the antagonist. In “Warlock” 1959 Blaisdell (LSI) believes he is in love with Jessy (EII). Jessy wants him to change by settling down and abandoning his life as a gun for hire. Protagonist’s ally Tom Morgan (IEI) braces her trying to show Blaisdell that this life is not for him. In a Beta dramatical way Tom Morgan sacrifices himself to prove his point. The death of his friend opens Blaisdell’s eyes to who he himself is and he realises ‘he is nothing’ without the life he had with Tom Morgan.

There are also ‘false’ antagonists. This case can be seen in Justified TV series where the protagonist Raylan Givens (LII) has a sort of brothers-in-arms relationships with the seemingly antagonistic character Boyd Crowder (EIE). Both of their stories are equally important and not in direct conflict. They are literally on the different sides of the law, but they have an obvious respect for each other. In the course of the series they join forces more than once, even though there is also a lot of tension between them that wouldn’t exist between two Beta characters.

Beta Tragic Narrative

Beta tragic narrative follows the same three options as above, but results in the protagonist’s death. However despite the fact that protagonist parishes, his death is invariably shown as noble and never equals defeat. The example of it is Sundowners (1950) where Kid Wichita (SLE) is not killed in a fair fight, but rather is shot in the back.

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Delta Quadra on Screen

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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

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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It is a common practice to assign a specific type or Quadra not only to fictional characters, but also to films, TV series or other forms of fictional entertainment. In fact, such contents might emphasize some aspect of information metabolism or ignore /reject other aspects, in line with the values of a specific Quadra. This is the first of a series of articles which will highlight the differences between Quadras on screen in terms of themes and style.

Since they have aspects blocked in the same way yet completely different values, the two pairs of opposite Quadras (i.e. Alpha and Gamma, Beta and Delta) tend to cover similar topics with opposite perspectives. The former make movies that are plot-driven, the latter are largely character-centred. In fact, by watching Alpha and Gamma movies, the audience will learn about the world of the movies, while in Beta and Delta movies, the audience will learn about the characters.

Alpha and Gamma films (intuition blocked with logic, sensing blocked with ethics) tend to present complex plots, expecting the audience to show greater interest in the development of the story than the characters themselves. In fact, the protagonist becomes merely the agent through which a matter is explored. Their attitude towards characterisation is ambiguous, emphasizing the shades of grey within people and situations.

The main difference between these two Quadras lies in their attitude towards the outcome of the story. While Alpha show curiosity and fascination towards the new and surprising facets of reality explored through the story, Gamma would often offer a sarcastic commentary on the inevitability of the story’s ending, emphasizing the underlying direction of reality. Examples of plot-driven movies from the Alpha Quadra are Robert Zemeckis’ “Back to the future” (1985), Richard Donner’s “The Goonies” (1985) and Jaco Van Dormael’s “Mr Nobody” (2009). On the other hand, examples from the Gamma Quadra would be Sergio Leone’s “spaghetti western” films, such as “The good, the bad and the ugly” (1968),  Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp fiction” (1994), and Dan Gilroy’s “Nightcrawler” (2014).

Beta and Delta films (intuition blocked with ethics, sensing blocked with logic) usually tell stories involving a polarity between the main characters, for whom the audience is supposed to root, and an antagonistic force.

These two Quadras have got antithetical ways of characterising the protagonist. While Beta stories romanticize the exceptional and outstanding qualities of the protagonist, Delta‘s interest is to describe the main characters’ intimate experience, with a focus on their vulnerabilities and potential for growth. In both Quadras, an admirable character would fit the dictionary definition of a hero as: 1) a “person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities” (Beta) or “a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal” (Delta).

Examples of character-driven stories for Beta are Mitchell Leisen’s “Darling, how could you” (1951), Morton DaCosta’s “The music man” (1968), and Paul Verhoeven’s “The soldier of orange” (1977). Examples of Delta movies are John Avildsen’s “Rocky” (1977),  Michael Gondry’s “Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” (2004) and Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton’s “Little miss sunshine” (2008).

Occasionally films might focus on an aspect that is inconsistent with the overall Quadra vibe in order to align with social norms. For instance, back in 1950s, as a consequence of the prevalence of a Beta over-the-top style, it was not uncommon for Delta movies to convey dramatic emotional expressions, such as  Sydney Lumet’s Twelve angry men (1957).

Another example of inter-Quadra influence is Paul Verhoeven’s “The soldier of orange” (1977), which is a Beta film influenced by the 1970’s Gamma atmosphere. The tone of the movie is Beta’s heroic adventurousness with a focus on Erik Lanshof’s (SLE) character. On the other hand, through other characters it reveals a more nuanced reality. 

Similarly, in recent days, when Delta or Gamma contents are most common, an Alpha movie such as Marc Forster’s “Christopher Robin” (2018) would show some Delta elements, with a very moralistic rendition of relationships and a Delta-like message.

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