Establishing Characters Through Movement

One of the most interesting things I have discovered over the course of this class is how important movement is for establishing characters.

This is best seen in Wall-E, where the main character, Wall-E, barely says any words throughout the entire movie. However, as soon as he begins to move you can see him come to life. He does not need to say any words; through his quirky movements and glitches, the audience can see exactly how goofy, joyful, and lovable he truly is. Then, when Wall-E is rebuilt and turned back on at the end of the film, he does not move as he once did. His movement is completely robotic and calculated, devoid of life. This shift in his movement shows that he may be completely different than he once was, as it is a massive shift in how we perceive him. But, when his eyes begin to twitch again, we can see that the real Wall-E has come back.

This is also evident in Magnolia with the character Frank. Frank consistently uses excessive movement. He is constantly over the top with his hand gestures as he shouts at the crowd, even going so far as to break a table. He is an over-the-top kind of guy. As he is doing this, he constantly paces; he cannot sit still. But, when he is asked about his mother in the interview, he doesn’t move at all. This is so far from everything we have currently seen of Frank. It shows how deeply this question affected him and clues the audience in to pay attention to this moment. His movement sets the tone for his character and when it shifts it signals the shift in his storyline.

Why does movement so greatly help establish characters? Is it because we are so naturally accustomed to movement? Could a character be deeply established without any movement?


Author: Bailey T.

Hey y'all, I'm Bailey, a writer, director, editor, and all-around storyteller.

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