Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Journey Begins


The best part of an adventure, in my humble opinion, is the first step.

No, not the beginning of a story, which is often much more action or conflict-driven, a WHAM! opening that pulls you in. The first step, the beginning of a journey, is often a very subtle, very low-key affair, action wise.

And yet it's filled with tension and anticipation for the adventure ahead.

My favourite example of this moment in a story comes from the Jurassic Park films (remember those???). Who would've thought that one of the best parts of a movie about an island with dinosaurs is actually the approach to the island with dinosaurs? Whether by helicopter or boat or plane, there's always something menacing about the beginning of these journeys. It's like the characters know what they're in for, deep down inside, but they're continuing anyways, continuing into the fog of what's ahead.

Another aspect of the beginning of journeys that I love is the preparation. Often characters have time to pack — to choose what to take with them, to figure out what they'll need. And as boring as that sounds — Packing?! C'mon! — it can often be an interesting way to get inside a character's head. What do they value? How much do they really know about what they're getting into? What do they take just for the hell of it?

In films, music can play a huge role during these scenes as well. Does the background music amp you up for what's ahead? Does it make your spine tingle? Does it give you goosebumps? My favourite "journey begins" track is from the Lost World, called, consequently, "Malcolm's Journey".

Give it a listen and tell me you don't feel like you're being transported to another world!

Finally, the arrival on the new world itself — and the first actual step in the new adventure — is always a fun moment as well. This is where that fog suddenly clears, and the characters realize where they are... and what they're in for. When they first step off of that helicopter or boat or plane, there's always a split second where you hold your breath, because you know, once they start that journey, there's no going back.


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