March 12, 2012 | Writing
Welcome Richard Riddick fans and writers. Of course you might be both and that’s fantastic. Last week a writer friend of mine Jenna Howard and I traded favorite dialogue from The Chronicles of Riddick. I have several other friends who love the movie, or is it Vin Diesel, or both, and can quote dialogue scene by scene. So as I ease my way back into writing in 2012 I thought it would be fun to discuss our favorite dialogue, the scene it’s from, and how the movie fits into the Hero’s Journey as so well written by Christopher Vogler in his book, The Writer’s Journey, Mythic Structure for Writers. Vogler’s work is based on Joseph Campbell’s most influential work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
Beginning today Monday, March 12th I’ll post a scene and you can respond with your favorite dialogue from that scene. Then I’m going to briefly describe what stage Riddick is in The Hero’s Journey. Vogler in his book writes the following. “A hero leaves her comfortable, ordinary surroundings to venture into a challenging, unfamiliar world. It may be an outward journey to an actual place; a labyrinth, forest or cave, a strange city or country, a new locale that becomes the arena for her conflict with antagonistic, challenging forces.” Vogler goes on to write that the journey can be an internal journey and that the hero “grows and changes, making a journey from one way of being to the next; from despair to hope, weakness to strength, folly to wisdom, love to hate, and back again.”
Before we delve into The Chronicles of Riddick I think a short review of the first movie, Pitch Black is needed. I originally wanted to see this movie because Claudia Black was cast in it and at the time she was on Farscape, another scifi favorite series of mine. But once Vin Diesel came on the screen as the captured convict, Richard Riddick, I was hooked. In Pitch Black a passenger transport vehicle crash lands on a planet. Riddick is being transported to a penal colony. He is a murderer with shiny eyes that can’t tolerate light or sunlight. The captain is killed, and the docking pilot, Carolyn Fry is about to jettison the passengers to save her life when the navigator stops her and he is killed leaving her in charge. As the remaining passengers try to find a way off the planet they discover that the geologists died when the planet was plunged into darkness 22 years ago and it’s about to happen again. The alien creatures come out looking for food and will kill the small group. Their only chance of survival to use the old ship’s power cells and use a small craft they’ve found. Riddick is determined to get off the planet and if he has to kill or leave the others behind he will. His one soft spot is, Jack, who everyone assumes is a boy and really a teenage girl that idolizes Riddick. Finally there are only four left, Imam, a holy man, Jack, Carolyn, and Riddick. Forced to leave Imam and Jack in a cave Carolyn and Riddick make their way to the ship and Riddick tries to persuade her to desert the other two and leave with him. Carolyn refuses even engaging in a fight with Riddick. She says ‘I’d die for them.’ Riddick returns to the cave with her and rescues Imam and Jack. Jack says she never doubted him. As they near the ship, Riddick is attacked. Carolyn goes back for the injured Riddick and is killed. Riddick yells “Not for me.” He returns to the ship and is about to take off with Imam and Jack when he powers down the engines and waits until the aliens crawl over the ship. Then he fires up the engines and kill many of the aliens as he pilots off the planet. He tells Jack to tell people he died on the planet.
So now we come to The Chronicles of Riddick, the sequel. The movie begins with a narration by Aereon who explains who the Necromongers are and their leader The Lord Marshal. The Lord Marshal is determined to convert the universe to the undead by destroying planets. She says that in ordinary times evil would be fought by good, but this time evil should be fought by another type of evil. Richard Riddick is not your regular hero, he’s an anti-hero, hero. And we’ll talk about this more this week.
The first stage in the hero’s journey is: The Ordinary World. According to Vogler you show the hero in his ordinary world. Riddick for the past five years has been living on a frozen planet, hiding from ‘mercs’ who are trying to collect the bounty on his head. This isn’t my idea of a normal, drab existence, but for Riddick it must be. He’s deflecting the mercs from Imam and Jack whose lives would be in danger if he’d stayed with them. So the story opens with Riddick being chased across the frozen tundra by a spaceship commanded by Toombs, portrayed by Nick Chinlund. Riddick lures Toombs into a cave and dispatches one by one Toombs’ crew.
One of my favorite lines is Toombs when one his crew suggest the cave is too tight to follow Riddick. Toombs says: “So throw on a fresh pair of panties and let’s get this right.”
So what’s yours?