Rites of Passage
- Life Problem that must be faced and dealt with
- Wrong Way to manage the Life Problem
- Acceptance of One's faults in order to conquer Life Problem
The rite of passage film is unique in the goal the protagonist often pursues. In other films, the protagonist is often the agent of change; pursuing their goal with relentless passion. In many cases the goal of the rite of passage protagonist is to avoid change, or combat outright if necessary. Sometimes the goal is simply to stay still, to avoid changing. The protagonist in each sequence of the film may have mini-goals designed to fulfill the main goal of staying put. Consider William Hurt in The Accidental Tourist. The armchair traveler who dreams of going places without ever leaving home... Usually the protagonist does everything he can to avoid changing, and the more things change around him, requiring him to change, the more he digs in. His efforts to "dig in" and stay put become the mini-goals.
But for the rite of passage protagonist, life has other plans. Things can't remain the same. Something big and/or several smaller things interfere with his plans to remain still. Geena Davis shows up, for example (Accidental Tourist). The boy from next door returns home for the summer, disturbing the private world of Reese Witherspoon (Man in the Moon). And remember how at the beginning of his character arc and beyond, Will just wants to remain in Boston with his good friends (Good Will Hunting).
The speed of life happens all around the protagonist, who does everything he can to avoid changing (because changing hurts) - until he or she can't keep it up any longer, and is forced to change, or die (usually emotionally), and/or until he sees, finally, the benefits of change.
Most any of the other genre stories are protagonists moving toward something, chasing something such as treasure, love, or truth. The rite of passage is about dodging, resisting, or trying to move away from something (or to stay the same) even though the protagonist comes to realize the change is for the better and must happen in order for them to grow (still moving toward something, from another perspective, but they don't actively move toward the goal until they break down and are reborn).
Chasing is active 'I want something, I will get it, watch this! here I go!'
Dodging is passive 'here comes change, I refuse to change, I will let the impetus for change simply pass me by... this time...'
'Taking action' to stay the same is still relatively passive; Hoffman's unwillingness to accept the end of his marriage. He's not pursuing the realization that his marriage is over at all -- that realization is creeping up on him.
The same goes for Hurt's refusal to smile : until he does, then the story ends.
If you write a rite of passage screenplay, those little quirks like the smile that never quite comes are good little indicators of how far the character is progressing on the road toward the 'undesired' goal of Passage.
|Genre confirmed by BS||Genre/BS2 from STC2||Genre by User||Genre disputed|