What Do All The Best Stories Have In Common?

Last night, something occurred to me as I was trying to decide on a movie to watch. In the interest of not losing two hours browsing the On Demand listings and debating with the husband, I chose a favorite from our selection of DVDs, all of which we’ve seen. I found myself doing a little sort in the following categories: favorites to watch anytime, great movies that I wouldn’t mind watching again, great movies that I never want to watch again, and sucky movies that I’m not sure why we own.

I want to focus on the third category. Why would I never want to rewatch a movie I thought was great?

The best way to describe my answer is this: these movies rip my heart through my guts and stomp all over it. Or it least it feels that way.

One of these movies is Dead Poets Society. I love, love, love this movie. Everything about it is art. The first and only time I saw it, I was completely enraptured. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what happens at the end that has the heart-ripping effect on me and makes me want to never see it again.

Another example is Seabiscuit.  There were a few heart-ripping moments in this movie, but it’s the one near the beginning with the boy and the car that makes me leave the room.

Taken is also in this category, in spite of Liam Neeson’s kickassedness – which is totally a word, by the way. A case can be made for Gran Torino as well.

The commfeel quoteon thread in these movies for me is the element of children dying or getting hurt. I’m sure you have a similar list of great stories that you’ll never see again, and probably for a different reason than mine, but even if our reasons vary, I’m willing to bet they all have one overarching theme.

These stories make us feel something. Deeply. They make us face our fears and question what we would do if the situation was ours and not the character’s. This can be uncomfortable, to say the least. It’s also what makes a story unforgettable.

Which stories are on your list?

9 thoughts on “What Do All The Best Stories Have In Common?

  1. Interesting that they make you leave the room and never want to see it again.
    “rip my heart through my guts and stomp all over it. Or it least it feels that way.”

    I’m not sure you characterized that properly but the heart was involved, robot. That’s why Savvy Stories got you. I’m the same way. Movies with kids getting hurt, I turn ’em off or change channels or whatever. My wife is even worse. But we went through something – not anywhere near as bad as some others thank God – but it was a week in Hell and it changed us. (Maybe just having to protect kids as a parent does it. Probably. We’ll never know.)

    I watch Dead Poets Society whenever’s it’s on because the story is so well told (come on, an inspiring English teacher? Yawn) but the redemptions and the young bold attempt at love and the risks that are HUGE as a child but pale in comparison to real challenges in later life, it’s huge and the redemption is so worthwhile, to possibly BE that shy boy who WILL stand on the desk but ONLY because somebody believed in him, inspired him; life changing. To realize that upon occasion we can BE that inspiring person in a real person’s life, that is a taste of awesome that we get a glimpse of in the movie and that most of us will never get to even sniff in real life. I can’t deprive myself of it. I won’t. You shouldn’t, either.

    Some movies get weaker and fade when you see them again; the things that are about to happen get familiar and lose their punch. Dead Poets will get you MORE every time and also enable you to see masterful storytelling and terrific pacing and foreshadowing and evil/antagonist and on and on, and a full range of emotions that physically hurt to watch. That’s genius – or as you put it, art. But watching also allows us to possibly describe it in our stories and THAT makes it worthwhile, too. It won’t be ruined for watching a second time. It’s wine, not cake. Face that which you avoid and move forward in your storytelling as a result. By God, you can do it and you should.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good question…I’m not sure if there are stories that I loved that I don’t want to see again. Even those that tear into my heart also have moments that make me smile. And I know i can go back to them to evoke certain emotions.


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