A tragic story will often pull us in like no other story can. Strangely, tragedy in fiction leaves a far more powerful impression than a happy or thrilling moment. Whether a book or a movie, we gravitate toward these stories because they remind us of how precious the moments in our lives are.
Such a story is well illustrated in one of my favorite books and also in one of my favorite films.
The book is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. Arguably this is one of the best pieces of Young Adult writing that has been published. The writing is amazing, and the story is incredible. The tragedy is two-fold: 1) in the sacrifices of Harry’s friends, sometimes their lives, and 2) in Snape’s revelation. Villain is revealed to be hero, and the main character is forever changed as a result.
The movie is Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. The story follows a slight re-imagining of the Batman character known in the original animated series. He is heroic and steadfast, never seeming to waver in the purity of his heart. During the course of the film, Bruce Wayne’s passionate love for Andrea Beaumont is revealed when she returns unexpectedly to Gotham. The movie shifts seamlessly between the present troubles and Batman’s flashbacks. The script for this is amazing. It grabs from the get go and there is no happy ending to the tale. And yet, it has become a cult classic, and I understand why.
This has made me sit back and re-evaluate the contemporary stories playing out on screen and in books. Most stories, especially the superhero type, have happy endings and there are few permanent losses that the heroes and heroines must endure. Are many storytellers forgetting the power of a sad ending? Let’s tip our hats to the stories of yesteryears, and the tragedies that hooked us and stayed in our memories.
What books and movies have had this effect on you?
Subscribe to get my blog posts directly in your inbox!