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The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

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    Aristotle wrote his Poetics of storytelling over two thousand years ago, yet they still apply today. The Godfather is an epic masterpiece that demonstrates how applying the Poetics can ensure that a film’s story grabs the audience and keeps them captivated until the last frame. The best form of tragedy, Aristotle argues, has a plot that is what he calls “complex,” it imitates actions arousing horror, fear and pity, and the hero’s fortune changes from happiness to misery because of some tragic mistake that he or she makes.

    There are undoubtedly many movies that provide that hero drama. There is one movie that does use plot. “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”. This movie is an intended comedy that still uses the three key elements of the plot; reversal, suffering, and recognition. We are going to see how structure of story-telling written over two thousand years ago is being applied to the American Movie today. Aristotle says that reversal (peripeteia) is the most powerful part of a plot in a tragedy along with discovery.

    A reversal, or turning point, is the change of on particular moment described from one state of things to its opposite. A real change of events to keep the story going. In “Talladega Nights”, the main character, Ricky Bobby, was a renowned race car driver that met his career end after a fatal car crash left him to hallucinate his combustion, and leave his race company owners to get him off the team. This manuever is clearly a reversal in the plot. At one point this amazing race car driver is the hero everyone looks up to. Ricky Bobby is racing, as they explain in the movie.

    The major turning point is his initial meltdown and hallucination that led to his dismissal of the racing team ending his excellent racing career. Suffering, or (pathos), which also refers to the pathetic character, or one we take pity on, is the next stage in this ballad. After being removed from the team, Ricky Bobby turns his back on racing and takes his sons back to his small hometown to live with his mother. His career and his wife are taken over by his best friend Cal, who even moves into his luxury home. At this point we take pity on the main character.

    It seems that all is lost and the mighty have now fallen. He spends his time living the slow life until his mother finds his father to help him get back. Lastly we have recognition (anagnorisis), or discovery. It’s the realization of not only of a person but also of what that person stood for, what they represented. It was the hero’s suddenly becoming aware of a real situation. After Bobby received his training from his father, he ventured back into the racing world. He enters the big race for himself, for his personal gain.

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