The Sticking Place

Character Relationship Map: The Third Man

Third Man Map

In his book On Film-Making, Mackendrick writes:

In a well-told story, every fictional character functions within a network or nexus, a cat’s cradle
of character interactions. Certain characteristics of the protagonist and antagonist are revealed
often only through relationships with each other or with circumstances (either external or internal)
and events played out in action and reaction. Under the pressure of situations, conflicts, clashes of
will or story tension, the ideas that lie behind a story’s themes cease to be merely abstract and become
people actually doing things to each other or reacting to the action. As has been already explained,
film dialogue is best when it has an immediate purpose and produces visible reactions in others.
This is the essence of drama. Because character is not a static quality that belongs to a specific figure,
rather than thinking of individual characters in the world it is far more useful for the writer to consider the notion of character-in-action-and-reaction. A story’s energy comes from the degree
to which its characters are warring elements, complimentary aspects that illuminate each other by contrast and conflict. The only practical reason for a particular character’s existence, in fact, is to interact with other characters.

Here for more from Mackendrick on The Third Man.

© The Estate of Alexander Mackendrick