Friday, January 17, 2014


A secondary plotline weaved into the story. There could be more than one of these. All these subplots usually clash with the primary plot down the line.  For example, In Se7en, we spend time with Mills’ wife, so that we understand his agony when the box arrives.

It’s important to make the subplots feel like the part of the same movie and have them thematically related to what’s going on in the primary plot. 

Using the same example, Se7en is about whether hope can blossom in a dark world where evil men like John Doe exist. In the primary plot, this theme is reflected in Mills’ corruption by John Doe. Similarly, the subplot with Mills’ wife is about her confiding in Somerset that she’s pregnant but contemplating about having an abortion as she is unsure about bringing a child into an immoral, dark world.

Intersecting subplots with the main plot at just the right moments is a great way to create surprises (In Crazy, Stupid, Love all the subplots come together at the climax of the movie in unexpected ways.) or save the protagonist out of an impossible situation. The latter could involve a second character unexpectedly saving the main character (In The Departed, Matt Damon’s Colin Sullivan is saved at the last minute by a fellow cop who turns out to be working for the Mob as well.) or the character using a skill he/she learned during his/her subplot. (In Kill Bill 2, Beatrix Kiddo finally slays Bill by using a technique she picked up during her stay at the temple.)

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