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Narrative: Character & Hollywood, Wild Bill (2011)

Figure 1: 'Wild Bill' (2011) Cover

This film review will be focusing on the film 'Wild Bill' (2011), the story follows a local hood gangster nicknamed Wild Bill for his previous endeavors, who recently was been released from prison. Not knowing what has happened whilst he has been in prison he returns home only to find out he has two kids who are constantly getting into trouble. When the whole families situation goes seriously south it's up to Bill prevent any harm from coming to his boys.

The film was released in 2011, was directed by Dexter Fletcher and was produced by Tim Cole and Sam Tromans. George Richmond was responsible for the cinematography and Christian Henson was responsible for the music.

The topic for this film will be Character and Hollywood. Now this film may not have been produced in Hollywood but for the sake of explaining everything to do with this topic, this film will be used as an example. Once again expect very little 'Reviewing' of the film as the idea of this film review will be to break down the film to understand the concepts presented. Wild Bill's story is something that does not shine in Drama, Action or Scale in a Hollywood film but it is very human, relatable and true.


The idea behind genericism is that we don't really know much about them and we're not meant to really care for them, they are there for a single purpose which should be clear right away. Genericism is a trait usually associated with canon fodder. A misconception about genericism is that it could make a character boring or insufficient but this is not the case, characters that can be canon fodder can still be memorable and recognizable through designs or actions.

The best example of this are the stormtroopers from Starwars, we all know what the standard stormtrooper looks like, we all know that they are the main enemy in the Starwars and we all know they are horrible shots. However they are distinct through design, certain stormtrooper have certain armor attachment to show superiorities, making them 'Not Generic'.

In Wild Bill, the Genericism is about the everyday people, people who walk the streets and the gang of goons who patrol the streets. There is no real canon fodder in Wild Bill because by the time the final conflict comes around we know all of the characters fairly well, apart from a few filler goons.

Figure 2: Dean and Jimmy

Backstory vs Origin Story

The backstory of a character and the origin story of a character are two very different things, the backstory can show us what makes up our character, so previous experience or character attributes are good examples of backstory. The backstory is usually associated with exposition and can sometimes provide a motive for a character, this can, however, be boring exposition, not everyone wants to know every single process that went on in a character's life, it's not needed, only key point's.

An Origin story, however, is how our character is come to be known, it's his/her experience of crossing the threshold into another world. They are shown what their normality is and characterized around that, then when our character crosses the threshold is usually creates a motive for our character provided by their backstory, things like revenge, love, compassion and relief can all be associated with our characters main goals or aspirations.

An example of this is Batman, his origin story is him becoming the batman but his backstory is his parent being murdered in a back alley by some random thug. The backstory provides the motives for him wanting to become the batman and his intentions as a character, it also can give us a reason as to the way he acts the way he is, how he is designed and ultimately what his challenges may be.

Wild Bill's 'Backstory' is that he used to be a big time hood dealer but is now an unexpected father with a responsibility. He went to prison for 8 years and came out a changed man due to horrible experiences he had to go through.

His origin story is about when he leaves the prison and is faced with the difficult task of having to not only adjust to society but to get away from his old life. It's a little bit like a reverse Origin story, he was a big time hood dealer, now he wants to leave that behind and start his real life.

Figure 3: Bill

Character-Driven Story

Character driven stories are usually based on either the main character or a group of characters (The Goonies), there is a plot in the film but it is what keeps the film on its ultimate course, but our main character is the one who drives our plot forward.

Shawshank redemption is an example of this in showing how our main character develops and what steps are taken in order to drive the plot forward. The ultimate goal of the story is Andy's redemption & escape. The plot has twists and turns but we are never ultimately told that the plot is going to go in a different direction, Andy pushes the story forward and the main goal is his redemption.

This is where Wild Bill shines as the entire story is character driven, the film does have some scripted build-up towards the end, but apart from that single sequence (Which is still good!), the whole film feels very natural. The progression is never forced down your throat and it's never inconsistent.

But an example of the character-driven aspects of the story are:
  • Bill leaves prison.
  • The gang find Bill and give him back to his kids, Dean and Jimmy.
  • The kids are threatened by the social authorities and threaten to put them in a home.
  • Jimmy and Dean blackmail Bill into looking after them so they don't have to go into care.
  • Everyone realizes Bill is back and wants different things for him.
  • Bill builds relations with kids.
  • Jimmy falls in with the wrong crowd
  • Terry creates drugs which is where all the problems have come from.
  • Jimmy gets into trouble by losing a lot of Terrys money
  • Bill realizes how much trouble Jimmy is in sums up his options
  • Bill achieves his personal redemption to his family
  • Bill fights Terry to save his son.
  • Bill makes the ultimate sacrifice in order to keep his sons safe.

The entire plot of Wild Bill is character driven, there is never really a moment in the film where the plot isn't character driven. Every single character within this universe has somewhat of a meaning or a role, despite how generic everyone looks.

Figure 4: Terry

There are usually three kinds of flaws in film's, those three being: 
  • Minor Flaws 
  • Major Flaws 
  • Tragic Flaws 
Minor Flaws usually are only something small, the character is aware it is there but it never holds them back from their full potential, so phobias or a small injury like a scar.

Minor Flaws in the film are so of his old traits that still linger and his kids, whilst his kids

Major Flaws are much more serious issues that can sometimes be the whole reason the plot moves forward, the idea that the main obstacle in our hero's path is himself can lead to growth and the transformation from zero to hero. Usually, a villains major flaw will either be his weakness or his downfall. The villain's main weakness can also be the hero's goal, to find a weakness.

Once again, this is one of the main driving forces of the film, Bill has to leave his old life behind in order to progress. It's his name which is a major tie right from the very start of the film, people recognize him, the police are constantly bugging him and to an extent, he is still working for some of his previous employers.

Tragic Flaws (Hamartia) are flaws in a key character which lead to their downfall, one good example is Han Solo being killed by his son. The flaw in this instance is that Solo's love for his own son is the reason for his demise, his son has been corrupted so badly that he is willing to manipulate this flaw in his father, leading to his ultimate demise.

Terry has had his way for a very long time, over time he becomes cocky, selfish and out of line to most people he meets. in the end, it's his clear obsession with hatred and site that cost him the fight. Granted the pub owner is a lucky factor for Bill but still terry's reputation ends up costing him the fight.

Image Bibliography

Figure 1: 'Wild Bill' (2011) Cover

Figure 2: Dean and Jimmy

Figure 3: Bill

Figure 4: Terry