Early Man

What happens when you forget to include a subjective throughline

Early Man is unwatchable for one primary reason: no Main Character Throughline. Without a personal point-of-view with which to attach empathy, the viewing experience becomes a study in tedium.

Tales relate events, one after the other, with no higher purpose than the events themselves. Stories weave events into a tapestry of meaning by juxtaposing conflicting points-of-views, with the result a significant composition greater than its parts.

The Four Throughlines of a complete narrative is more than a superficial tool for writing screenplays. These points-of-view match the perspectives our minds assume when resolving conflict. The Objective Story Throughline shows what problems They face in the story. The Main Character Throughline examines what I encounter in the story.

Leave one out, and you leave the Audience empty without a subjective point-of-view to balance out the objective account of events.

And those are only the primary objective and subjective perspectives. A complete story balances these two with the Influence Character Throughline and Relationship Story Throughline: the conflict You and We encounter, respectively.

The Four Perspectives

Without I, there is no You. Without You or I, there is no We. And without I, You, or We, there is only They.

And no one cares about Them.

If you want to see how important it is to write all Four Throughlines into a story, put on Early Man. Watch as, one-by-one, members of your family check out. Some will jump on their phones, others will head to bed early, and the rest will merely conk out with boredom.

The mind longs for a complete experience. But there’s only so long it will wait before searching for another source of fulfillment.