Storylines In Review


This site looks at popular storylines, covered in our various feature pages linked to the blog posts below.  
  Blog Posts
 Feature Page Links
This blog column discusses recent developments and additions to our coverage. With feature-length blog posts, just the intros are on this home page. Links to the other, main feature pages online so far are in the sidebar at right.

About Us: We are not a business but a study site, looking at popular storylines as a basis for critical viewing [more here]. There are feature pages on different aspects of these storylines - standard scenes, case studies, production histories etc.

-Most Recent Blog Posts-

Below are our main feature pages online so far.

Vacation Viewing series: The Away-Break Crisis Storyline

#1: Le mépris / Contempt (dir Jean Luc Godard, 1963)

[Details here]



#2: L'Avventura (dir Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960)

[Details here]

[For entries #3 through #10, see here.]


The Away-Break Crisis Storyline


We now have an intro page up as a tie-in to our 'vacation viewing' series, left.

Commemorating Victory In Europe Day

Above and below: the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, as seen in the 1966 film Paris brûle-t-il / Is Paris Burning?
Wednesday, 8 May is VE Day. It would seem that the most appropriate film selection to commemorate this normally happy anniversary, since the recent tragic fire at the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, would be the 1966 Is Paris Burning?/ Paris brûle-t-il? There, it is the keynote, the symbol of civilisation threatened by war. As the film opens, Hitler has ordered the burning of all Paris's famous landmarks as part of a scorched-earth retreat in the face of the approaching Allied armies, and the French Resistance groups have to work together to prevent it. The German commandant in the meantime delays carrying out Hitler's order, which he now sees as pointless destruction. Early on, we see Notre Dame with German tanks in front of it, firing on the police prefecture. The action ends with the first Allied tank pulling up front of it, and the cathedral’s great bells ringing out, for the first time in over 4 years, to celebrate the moment of Liberation. The b&w image then changes, for the end credits, to a modern aerial panorama in colour of Paris, ending with the cathedral. (More info on the film in our earlier item, here.)

... We've also put up a feature page with a selection of war films. While the US does not celebrate the VE Day anniversary (their main war effort continuing after that, in the Pacific), Britain does, perhaps more than any other country, as it was the HQ of the Allied war effort once the European mainland was overrun. Here are a dozen films, consisting of one example of each major storyline representing different aspects of the British and Allied war effort:

The Road To Victory: The British War Effort On Film

Above and below: Went The Day Well [1942] and Dunkirk [2017]



Screen-Free Digital Detox Week
The last week of April is annual switch-off tv etc week, and here we supply some incentive to switch off and get out into the real world... [read more]

National Canadian Film Day 2019
This year, NCFD is commemorating the centenary of Nell Shipman’s pioneering Back To God’s Country, whose success opened the way for all those Canadian outdoors dramas, to which we have dedicated a feature page.
[intro here]

Left: Black Robe (1991)

2019 Upcoming Attractions series
Last year's attempt at covering upcoming attractions by storyline saw the year ending when we only had 10 storylines up. (The coverage was meant to be comprehensive, listing every announced title regardless, to show that the storyline was still popular, and evolving). To avoid running out of road again, this year we're covering only selected titles for each of our 50+ storylines, and these will go on one webpage, which we can easily keep updated. Each storyline is represented by a roundup of upcoming examples of interest, to a maximum of 10, with one selected as sounding, on its face, the most original or interesting. (This of course means a guess that the execution will fulfil its promise - something that, sadly, often fails to happen.)

#1: The 'American Dream Cracks' Storyline


#2: The Apocalypse-Survival Storyline


#3: The ‘Artist In The Making’ Storyline


#4: The Away-Break Crisis


#5: The 'Best Laid Plans'

Below: Screenshots from the trailer of Wild Nights With Emily [see The Artist In The Making item, left].

Bygone Britain, By Train
Travelogues are always popular at this time of year, as a vicarious solution when winter is ending but the holiday season has not arrived. The first time much of contemporary Britain was shown onscreen in colour was in the series of scripted travelogues made for British Transport Films in the 1950s and early 60s, as indirect promotion for the then recently nationalised [1948-] railway network, to encourage Brits to get out and see their own country. [Go to feature page].

Top Ten Tintin
The Adventures Of Tintin make for suitable tonic viewing at this dreary time of year.
But with 5 feature films and 2 tv series comprising dozens of episodes, where to start?
[Go to feature page]

In Memoriam 2018
As always, at the close of the year, the media publish obit roundups for those we lost over the past year. Here, we look at the writers and other creative figures we lost. [read on]

A Cynic’s Xmas FilmFest
The Xmas holiday break is the ideal time to kick back and binge-view. But as a reaction against the kind of relentlessly cheerful, sentimental outlook that is pushed at us on xmas tv, I thought I’d adopt a Cynic's or ‘Diogenarian’ approach, with film choices reflecting a critical (some would use the word cynical) disengagement with mainstream social values. [read intro]

A Cynic’s Xmas FilmFest
A feature page with an example from each storyline, here.

Left: A scene from Ride The High Country (1962), written by NB Stone Jr, showing the impoverished reality the ageing but honest lawman faced.

2018 Upcoming Attractions
-A series of blog posts and features on upcoming film or tv releases, alphabetically by storyline. (General press coverage would suggest everything coming up is an extension of some popular franchise - another chapter of a superhero fantasy series, or a remake, but there are other works of interest in development or production.) Note that the various feature pages are updated as relevant new productions are announced.

#1: The 'American Dream Cracks' Storyline
Although this storyline being chosen first-up in this series of blog posts might seem because it's so timely, the fact is [read on]

#2 The 'Apocalypse-Survival' Storyline
This is currently a popular storyline for modern cinema, with special effects made easier via CGI. But I won’t argue there is all that [read on]

#3 The ‘Artist In The Making’ Storyline
This is a broader storyline than it might at first seem as it routinely dramatises crises and challenges not only at the start of an artistic career but in midlife and even right at the very end.[read on]

#4 The 'Away-Break Crisis' Storyline

The 'away-break crisis' storyline, where the protagonist suffers a personal crisis during some sort of break or visit abroad, is of course topical in holiday season, but its motifs go well beyond holiday romance complications. (Yes, Mamma Mia, we're thinking of you) [read on]

#5 The 'Best Laid Plans' Storyline
This ever-popular storyline, where even the best-planned crime goes wrong, is at present dominated by fact-based stories and remakes... [read on]

#6 The 'Between Life & Death' Storyline
This storyline traditionally flourishes in time of war or natural disaster when many have lost loved ones and there is an interest in spiritualism and the afterlife. So what its current popularity says about our era remains to be seen ... Is it because we are entering a more 'spiritual' age? [read on]

#7 The ‘Big Night’ Storyline
This is not a storyline that gets much attention, perhaps due to the inbuilt restraints of its time-frame, with the focus on a single evening or overnight stretch, but the dramatic unities of time and often of place can enhance a rite-of-passage story [read on].
#8 The ‘Castaway Survival’ Storyline
‘Castaway’ stories are always popular, with so many possible plot setups – shipwrecks, imprisonment abroad, etc. And settings can range from prehistory all the way to the future. We have no less than 50 current examples [read on].
#9 The 'Citizens Into Soldiers' Storyline
This storyline for obvious reasons flourishes at the outbreak of war with contemporary-set examples, but currently we have a dozen examples set in different periods of recent history, from WW2 onward [read on].
#10 The 'Civic Disaster' Storyline
The 'civic disaster' drama is often based on or inspired by tragic real-life incidents. Occasionally a work may have a feel-good finale with someone being rescued etc, but generally this is by its nature a realist strand with few happy endings. Here are 10 current examples [read on].
[Note: The above post was the last in our series of '2018 upcoming attractions' posts by storyline [proceeding alphabetically]. As per the list above, we did 10 of these, most of which for reasons of space required their own dedicated feature pages (as there were so many upcoming examples), before the year itself ran out.]

Don't Forget To Save The Cat!
The just-ended National Pet Month is, for film buffs, or should be, a reminder of scriptwriting guru Blake Snyder’s dictum, Save The Cat! This can be taken literally as well as symbolically, for it serves two different popular storylines [...]

World Press Freedom Day
Unesco’s World Press Freedom Day, every 3 May, is an apt time to consider some of the films which have celebrated this key component of democracy. To cite the Washington Post slogan, “Democracy dies in Darkness”. In terms of popular storylines, they are nearly all examples of the ‘conspiracy uncovered’ story, though the more realist ones, detailing the hard slog to obtain the necessary facts, also qualify as 'investigative procedural' stories. [...]

National Alien Day, April 26

-No, I’d never heard of it either till yesterday. It’s inherently odd – could there be more to it than meets the eye? Apparently the official explanation is that […]

Royal Air Force Centenary – The RAF On Film
The 100th anniversary of the founding of the RAF this year has prompted me to put together a blog item in similar format to earlier ones this year, with a list of 10 film-tv titles to mark the occasion by. (The RAF was formed on April 1, 1918; there are various commemorative events scheduled between mid-April and July 10, when there will be a Westminster Abbey service and televised parade followed by a flypast over Buckingham Palace of up to 100 aircraft representing RAF history.) To tie in with the centenary, a number of film titles like The Dam Busters and Angels One Five have been issued on DVD or Blu-ray in digitally restored form, as part of StudioCanal’s Vintage Classics collection. I've compiled our own short-list of 10 films for the occasion. Initially I thought to trace the RAF’s development through the decades, with one film per decade, but this proved unrealistic.

The 'Code Of The West' Storyline:
Setting The Scene - The Frontier Township

Prompted by the recent disastrous California brushfire which destroyed one of Hollywood's "iconic" western town sets, we've put up a feature page on this key component of the 'code of the west' storyline, here.

The ‘Royal Champion’ Storyline:
As a followup to our 'RAF at 100' blog post, we now have a feature page up on how RAF aviators, usually depicted in the popular press as 'knights of the air', have been portrayed onscreen over the decades.
Case Study: The RAF On Screen, From The Dawn Patrol to The Sound Barrier

The 'Liberating-Relationship' Storyline:
Case Study - The ‘Getting Intimate’ Scene, Part One

The 'Submarine Mission' Storyline:
Introductory page
A-Z Titles Page
Standard Scenes page
10 Titles For Further Study

The 'Midwinter Crisis' Storyline:

Introductory page
Setting The Scene In The Bleak Midwinter’ feature page

The 'Outpost Command Crisis' Storyline

Introductory page
InterTitle Historical Review Part 1

The Expeditionary Storyline

Introductory page
Titles A-Z Page
Case Study Page: The 'Gateway Barrier' Scene


Canadian Film Day Picks
National Canadian Film Day is held every April. This year it’s on the 18th, when there are showings of selected films all across Canada. Here, I’ve compiled an introductory-style list of 10 films from a range of storylines for a DIY filmfest. I’ve selected works made by Canadians rather than by visiting US filmmakers. This approach is akin to the difference between being a tourist and a resident, and there are no films on our list with the traditional tourism image of Canada - fur trappers, moose, Mounties, bush pilots, bears etc. [read on]

The Evolving 'Brexit' Storyline
-An evolving real-world political ‘storyline’ is being dramatised in various ways.
The Easter weekend papers have been full of speculation about ‘Brexit’ as the UK will be ending EU membership in a year, at the end of March 2019. Normally, we wouldn’t cover a political topic per se, but attempts to transform a real-world political ‘storyline’ into drama put it into our purview here. So: What’s the story? As they say in films, “It’s complicated.” [read on] (For overseas readers, there is a backgrounder section alongside the main text on our feature page.)

St Patrick’s Day Film Picks
As it’s St Patrick’s Day today [March 17th], I thought I’d do a viewing list of 10 suggested films like those for the Scots and Australian national days below, for those observing the occasion at home. Note that this is just a personal choice of titles, films about Irish society that have meant something to me. [read on]

Valentine’s Day - Getting Intimate
For this Valentine’s Day, instead of the usual mixed-bag list of 'romantic' films such as the newspapers publish every year where the films chosen have in fact very little in common, I thought we'd concentrate on the key scene in the main storyline here, the 'liberating-relationship'.
This is the ‘getting intimate’ scene, where the protagonists shed their inhibitions, ie their clothes, at least for a shared skinny-dip nude bathe in some country pond or remote seashore. (Censorship being what it was for much of film history, this was often as far as the filmmakers could take the viewer.) There are too many examples to cover in one web-page, so to start, we're just covering the black-and-white films era from the early silents through the 1960s, when b&w film production generally died out:
The Liberating-Relationship Storyline: Case Study - The ‘Getting Intimate’ Scene, Part One

Australia Day Films
Further to the previous blog post, I've been reminded that the same weekend as Burns Suppers are held worldwide is also Australia Day. So I thought I'd do a list of film candidates to match the Scots one. Hopefully, there's something here for everyone - a variety of storylines are represented. [read more]

The Burns Night Film
Every January 25th, I commemorate Burns Night (the birthday of Scotland’s national poet) by having a meal of [veggie] haggis etc and watching a suitable film set in Scotland. While the Burns Supper menu is standard worldwide, there is no standard choice of after-dinner film, so for future reference I’ve compiled a list of suitable candidate film choices. (The favourite storyline seems to be the 'country-retreat challenge'.) [read more]

‘Tis The Season To Be Binge Watching
-007 And The 'Secret Agent Champion' Storyline

The Xmas break has become the time for boxset binge watching. Watching instalments of a series in quick succession is a useful way to gain perspective on a series' artistic development, in this case the James Bond film series, an example of the old 'secret agent champion' storyline. [read more]

1967 ... That Was The Year That Was
-1967 At 50
A year-end is always an occasion for remembrance, and thus an occasion for a film retrospective. The Oxford English Dictionaries’ odd choice for Word Of The Year, Youthquake, suggests a theme for this year. The OED’s choice has caused comment on social media as it’s not a new term but goes back to the late Sixties. This has reminded me that 2017 was the 50th anniversary of the pivotal year in this context, 1967. Hence a ‘1967 At 50' FilmFest [read more]

Storylines In Review – Xmas 2017 Catchup
By ignoring all the Xmas madness, the holidays become a good time to stay home, lock the door, and catch up on some reading and viewing. Many people now binge on box sets of a single title or queue one or more entire series on Netflix etc. But for my 2017 Xmas-catchup viewing, I’ve decided to watch and review one example of each storyline I’ve been working on documenting for this website, selecting a film from the queue on my shelf (or hard drive). I'll probably run out of time before I cover the complete list of storylines, but I’m adding to the webpage as I go. I can guarantee that none of the titles have anything to do with Xmas.
Storylines In Review – Xmas 2017 Catchup
Update: I managed to get 20 examples online before running out of time New Year's Eve.

Days Of The Dead
-In Memoriam, 2017

The year’s notable deaths in our context are those who were creative contributors to film and tv writing. Among the less publicised deaths this past year of film-tv contributors were those of some noteworthy writers. [read more]

That Time Of Year Again
Last year, I did a series of 12 blog posts to tie in with the 12 days of Christmas (or rather 12 days of seasonal crisis). This was by way of introducing our set of feature pages on the ‘Midwinter-Crisis’ Storyline [intro page here].
Starting in November, the madness has now begun again with the onslaught of formulaic ‘heartwarming’ Xmas tv films made by the Hallmark greeting-card people, cf image at right. (There’s a review-roundup of this year’s 21 new productions here. Warning: you may lose the will to live.)
So much of this is, as the saying goes, déjà vu all over again. (To see how little has changed since last year, you can check the blog posts out yourself [with #1-4 starting here, and #5-12 here].

Don’t Look Now, But There Are 50 Shades Of Greyscale
Modern erotica has roots in the European arthouse school of cinema going back to the era of the black-and-white film [read more]

On The Long And Winding Road
-To The Month Of Writing Dangerously
To the news items about Kerouac drafting On The Road 60 years ago [see item below] in only a few weeks of fulltime typing, we can now add some other works of topical interest which were written in a few weeks - after a lengthy gestation process [read on]

On The Road At 60
-The ‘road trip’ storyline is still rolling along, 60 years after Kerouac’s classic work was published.
Sixty years ago this month, in September 1957, Jack Kerouac’s On The Road was finally published. I say ‘finally’ as it took a while to find a publisher. The 4 road trips it covered, mostly between New York and San Francisco via Denver, had occurred back in 1947-50. Using notebooks kept on these trips, Kerouac compiled his account in 1951 in a single month of almost nonstop typing on a 120-foot long roll of paper (supposedly @100wpm - he didn’t even put in paragraph breaks), reliving the experience fuelled by Benzedrine. He hoped for a film version, but it would be a long time coming - another 45 years, but in that interval, the 'road-trip' storyline became established in American cinema ... [read on]

From The Mountains Of Kong To The Mountains Of Madness
-In putting together our feature case-study page for the 'expeditionary' storyline on how writers have adapted the key 'gateway barrier' scene, it's notable how the conception has expanded from [often exaggerated] natural features, such as cliffs or gorges, to psychological, cultural or spiritual obstacles. [read on].

The Lost World Redux

The 1925 Lost World, the grand-daddy of expeditionary-storyline films, but long available only in a cut-down version, was issued September 19 on a multi-region Blu-ray which is the fullest restoration thus far. [read more]

Before ... When & Where Next Time?

Decision-time is approaching as to whether there should be another film in the ‘Before’ series, cinema’s longest-running scripted-conversation drama. And if there is to be another, what will the story setup and setting be?

'Something lost ... and waiting for you. Go!'
-On the Expeditionary Storyline #1 [more]

Dunkirk x 3

A new film about the May 1940 evacuation combines three storylines - the ‘castaways survival’ storyline, the ‘fateful flight’ storyline, and the ‘key battle’ storyline. [more]

Older Posts
About This Site - explaining the term storyline as used here in a particular way, and describing our various feature-page formats [more].
The Subject Of Subs
There are dozens of storylines in existence (I already have notes on over 50) but I decided to do the The ‘Submarine Mission’ storyline first up. Now you might think this is because I have some special interest in the subject of subs, but... [more]

Cold War On Ice
-On Ice Station Zebra as the epitome of the ‘submarine mission’ genre [more]

"Dive Dive Dive"
-Delving Into The Depths Of The ‘Submarine Mission’ Film [more]

Autumn Break
I'm all submarined out at present.... As they used to say on Monty Python, time now for something completely different... something seasonal. [more]
'Tis The Season To Be Thanksgiving
On the 'Midwinter Crisis' Storyline, #2 (of 12 blog posts covering the 12 days of 'Xmas crisis' story setups) [more]
The Coming Of The Snow
On the 'Midwinter Crisis' Storyline, #3 [more]
Xmas, That's A Wrap
On the 'Midwinter Crisis' Storyline, #4 [more]
The Quiet Christmas Crisis
On the 'Midwinter Crisis' Storyline, #5 [more]
The Xmas Holidays Filmfest, 1946-2016
On the 'Midwinter Crisis' Storyline, #6 [more]

The Xmas Blues, Or The Bah-Humbug Effect
On the 'Midwinter Crisis' Storyline, #7 [more]
The Midwinter Walkabout
On the 'Midwinter Crisis' Storyline, #8 [more]
O Come All Ye Fearful - The Xmas Ghost Story Tradition
On the 'Midwinter Crisis' Storyline, #9 [more]
'Dead Time' - The Dead Of Winter
On the 'Midwinter Crisis' Storyline, #10 [more]
New Year's Eve, That's A Date
On the 'Midwinter Crisis' Storyline, #11 [more]
Twelfth (& Final) Night
On the 'Midwinter Crisis' Storyline, #12 [more]
Blue Sky Viewing
-While some like the idea of 'blue sky thinking', at this grey time of year I prefer 'blue sky viewing.'
(Lead-in to the 'Outpost Command Crisis' Storyline) [more]

“Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form.”
- Jean-Luc Godard

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Storyline Features - Popular Storytelling Formats In Review 2017