Central Station

by KE Monahan Huntley

Central Station, a Walter Salles film, wrought with obvious religious symbolism and certain dialogue that does not translate well, is nevertheless a beautifully illustrated Dramatica grand argument story complete with characters that are portrayed realistically, in particular, the fabulous Fernanda Montenegro's protagonist, Dora.

Ex-schoolteacher Dora (main character) is a mean-spirited miserable old broad who takes a grim delight in (almost) never mailing the missives the illiterate pay her to write, and count on her to post, in Rio de Janeiro's central station. Her emotional situation (mc domain-universe) is one of arrested development-resentment against her drunkard father (mc symptom-oppose) who had abandoned the family informs her cynical state. Dora's economic future (mc concern) is bleak and without prospects (mc benchmark-progress).

God, however, works in mysterious ways. Into Dora's world comes nine-year-old Josue (influence character), reluctant mother in tow. He is fiercely determined (ic domain-mind) to unite (objective story goal-obtaining) with a father he has never met -- one he loves (ic concern-subconscious) despite a lifelong absence and reports of drunkenness. Josue's mother dictates a bitter diatribe -- it's business as usual as Dora writes the letter (os requirement-doing) and neglects to send it off. Later, his mother has a change of heart and enlists Dora to write a second letter, this time one of love and reconciliation. Exiting the station, she is hit by a bus (story driver-action). Josue, for all intents and purposes, is orphaned (ic symptom-uncontrolled), and the only connection, tenuous as it is, to his father is through Dora. Dora tries to ignore the homeless child (relationship story thematic conflict-self-interest vs. morality) who now huddles in the train station and follows her with his enormous eyes.

Not entirely inhumane, Dora takes the boy in (relationship story catalyst-responsibility) after several days have passed-only to turn around and sell him to the black market for $2,000 (rs problem-temptation). An attack of conscience (rs solution) hastens Dora back to kidnap Josue from the child brokers. An uneasy alliance marked with mistrust and manipulation (rs domain-psychology) is forged as Dora vows (rs thematic issue-commitment) to the recalcitrant boy she will accompany him to find his father, Jesus.

The story of Central Station is anything but stationary -- what follows is all movement, the pilgrimage (os domain-physics) literally taken in the objective story (a veritable obstacle course) and the emotional transformation (rs concern-becoming) two lost souls undergo in the subjective story. For Dora, the quest is, at times, a hopeless one. Josue defiantly counters Dora's critical flaw with the unique ability of his dream. The commitment (rs thematic issue; os inhibitor) to each other by journeys' end endangers the story's successful outcome, however, Dora sets aside her own self-interest (rs inhibitor) and makes the right choice (mc unique ability). The boy and his mother's letter are at last delivered to Jesus' home.

The redemption for Dora's sins (judgment-good) is quite profound as she boards a bus bound for Rio, alone. Dora is last seen squinting through an optic viewer at a snapshot of her spiritual savior (mc resolve-change) -- Josue, running after the bus, stops and does the same.

About the Author

KE Monahan Huntley is an editor and publisher based in Southern California. As one of the original contributors to Dramatica, she helped edit and analyze many of the examples. In addition, her numerous articles provided an insightful "conversational" approach to the theory. Today she can be found at Write Between the Lines or follow her on Twitter @kemhuntley.

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