Impact Characters in movies

by Terrell
(Columbia, MO)

Hello, I have a few questions to ask in regards to certain movies.

A.) First have you seen: Inception, Godfather part 1 and 2, The Matrix, as well as The Lord of the Rings Trilogy?

B.) Secondly, if you have seen any of the above movies, my friends and I have been arguing about who were the impact character in each movie. We already know that the main-protagonist in each movie are: Dom Cobb, Michael Corleone, Neo, and Frodo Baggins respectively. Who are each of their impact characters and why in your opinion?

I think in Inception it is either Mal Cobb or Ariadne; Godfather part 1 I think its Vito Corleone, but I have no idea for part 2 because it didn't that anyone influenced him; in the Matrix, it is between Morpheus or Agent Smith; and finally LOTR, I feel its either: Gandalf, Samwise, or Gollum. What do you think?

Your advice have truly been helpful.

Answer: This is a fun game isn't it - picking out the impact character?

Here's my contribution, for what it's worth...

1. The Godfather. I'm not overly familiar with this series, I must confess, but Melanie Anne Phillips pegs the impact character as Kaye Corleone, whose role is to influence Michael not to become part of the organized crime racket. He doesn't take the advice.

2. Inception. When I saw this film, I recall feeling that the impact character was Mal, in that she was trying to convince him that what he thought was real was actually another level of dream. If true, this would destroy his happy ending where he gets to be with his kids again. (In other words, he stays steadfast by not heeding her warning.) But don't take this as definitive.

3. The Matrix. This one is easy. Neo's problem is that he has a hard time believing he could be the One. He doesn't "know himself," as the Oracle points out. Morpheus is the impact character who keeps trying to convince Neo of his potential. The need to rescue Morpheus is what finally causes Neo to change by giving up his self-doubt, which leads to Success. I do understand the confusion, since Agent Smith seems to act as the impact character to Morpheus at one point (when the film switches to Morpheus's point of view). Also Smith keeps saying Neo is "only human." But he doesn't really influence Neo so much as play the role of antagonist, trying to prevent the Goal, which is for the rebels to find the One.

4. Lord of the Rings. I have pondered this one for some time after a student asked me a similar question. While I'm not convinced Tolkein's story structure is 100% sound, I believe the impact character is actually the ring itself. Throughout the film, the ring keeps trying to persuade Frodo to put it on rather than destroy it. Frodo is a change character who, at the climax, follows the ring's direction and puts it on. As a result, though the story's Outcome is Success (the ring is destroyed), the Judgement is Bad. Frodo is left permanently damaged by his mistake (lost finger, morgul wound) and unable to ever truly return to life in the Shire the way his friends do. This makes LOTR a comi-tragedy.

Hope that helps a little.

Comments for Impact Characters in movies

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Apr 23, 2013
by: Terrell

It does and thank you!!!

Mar 12, 2014
Impact Characters
by: Nathan

For LOTR. I would say everyone in the fellowship and beyond feels like an impact character. Gandalf especially. Everyone in the fellowship seems to be trying to lead Frodo into making certain decisions at certain points in the novel. From Boromir to taking the ring to Minas Tirith too Smeagol convincing Frodo Sam is not to be trusted. I love the idea of the ring being an impact character itself though. I think that's what makes Lord Of The Rings such an appreciated tale. The characters and how developed everyone is so you can empathise with everyones motive for how there trying to influence the ring and therefore Frodo. Gandalf,Sam and Aragorn seem to be the characters that Frodo innevitably follows however.

Mar 12, 2014
by: Glen

You are not incorrect, Nathan, in saying that other characters try to influence Frodo. But the key to the impact character is that he/she occupies the opposite side of the argument that creates the main character's inner conflict - the conflict that is resolved when he makes his crucial decision at the story's climax.

Frodo's personal climax is the moment when he chooses to keep the ring for himself rather than destroy it - a big change from his initial attitude. Which character influenced him most to make that choice? Which character pressured him in that direction? True, Boromir and Gollum would have kept the ring, but their examples actually demonstrate the dangers of keeping the ring. Only the ring itself pressures Frodo to keep it.

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