For this very short paper, you will be asked to act as casting agent. Pick a single story we have read (or another that appears in our book if there is one you particularly like) and cast that story as if it were a movie. You need only cast three characters, and you can pick anyone in the world to play these characters. The only trick is that you must spend a paragraph explaining why your pick is perfect for that character. This means that you must know the story pretty well, and you must have a good idea how a character looks, talks, and acts. Do not over populate your films with beautiful people. Many of the characters are flawed physically and emotionally. Obviously Brad Pitt will not find a place in any of these stories. He’s just too damn pretty.
Remember that you may use anyone in the world in your cast. In past classes we have seen movies that feature the Incredible Hulk, someone’s grandmother, someone else’s high school teacher. We can also use any actor living or dead. One person even populated an entire story with different breeds of dog. Be as creative as you like; creativity in this assignment often begets brilliance. The most important thing is that you can explain your choices and, in explaining, give a deep reading of the characters.
In fact, the two things you will be graded on here are the structure of your paper and the analysis of the characters. You will want an introduction and conclusion as well as body paragraphs that explain your choices. Most importantly you must analyze the character in the story and not the person you chose to play her or him. The deeper you can go—the more interesting, unique, surprising, insightful, smart, and psychologically penetrating things you have to say about the character—the better your grade will be. By focusing your energy on describing the actor playing the character, you will have done nothing in the way of analysis. I do not care one wit about Robert Patterson’s personality. I only care about how he may give us insight into one of the characters we have read about. In the same vein, do not summarize plots of movies your actor has been in before. It is not useful to the assignment. Please keep this caveats in mind; this is the place where students most often go tragically wrong with this paper.
A couple of student examples: (these are from a different class with different readings)
“My friend Cory would be the ‘young Swede’ and my dad would be the “grown up Swede. Cory, simply enough, was the god of high school sports where I grew up. Really that meant he was a god, period. But like the Swede, much of his personality has been created by others’ expectations—and like the Swede, my father is simple in his ideas of how to live, how to interact with others, and how to achieve happiness and success. They share the same passion, insatiable interest, and mistaken belief that everyone wants to hear about it.”
“Rabbit Angstrom in this version of the film would be played by a male Golden Retriever in heat. Rabbit is always well intentioned, sweet, and mostly happy. His athleticism now that he is older has been stifled. He has no outlet. So, just like a Golden Retriever without enough exercise, he destroys what is inside his house, in this case his family and his relationship with his wife. He doesn’t mean to. He’s not malicious. He’s just caged. Further, like that Golden Retriever, sex is often his primary motivation. His sex drive trumps his rational thought.