by KE Monahan Huntley

Obtaining (objective story goal) a living gospel that may render the institution of the Catholic Church impotent is the premise of Stigmata, written by Tom Lazarus and Rick Ramage, and directed by Rupert Wainwright-the latest take on the politics of religion and the power of blind faith (os solution). To understand the pointlessness of the film, you have to read the denouement that follows the last scene--an assertion that the lost biblical Book of St. Thomas, purported to be the true and final gospel of Jesus, was discovered in the late 1940's. The Vatican refused to recognize the findings--and more than fifty years later neither its existence nor the denial of its validity have appeared to have had any impact on the Catholic community. Again, what is the meaning of Stigmata's premise?

To make matters more confusing, the other three Dramatica perspectives obscure the objective story. At the forefront is the influence character's throughline, atheist (ic problem-disbelief) Frankie--all MTV music and metallic make-up-a hair stylist living la vida loca. A rosary taken from a devout deceased priest in Brazil, and mailed as a gift to Frankie, results in the girl becoming (relationship story story concern) afflicted with stigmata (ic domain-universe). Her situation is brought to the attention of main character Father Andrew Kiernan, a scientist (male mental sex) and special investigator for the Vatican. Predictable political machinations (os domain-physics) and special Exorcist effects play out right up to the cliché finish.

The Stigmata storytelling may be "So what?"--but intriguing from a Dramatica point of view are two storyforms  that give the film a dualistic feel. The obvious first storyform contains variations and elements typical of a story with a religious topic--an objective story thematic conflict of morality vs. self-interest and problem of disbelief--solution of faith. A symptom of conscience and response of temptation appear in the objective, relationship story, and main character throughlines.

Delving deeper, the second storyform comprised of the same character and plot dynamics shades the story. The domains and signpost order are identical to the first storyform, as well. With the exception of the benchmark, requirement, prerequisite, precondition, and forewarnings--which all correspond in a dependent position to the first storyform--the appreciations are the dynamic opposite of the first storyform. For example, the objective story thematic conflict is experience vs. skill and problem of non-accurate--solution of accurate.

Of course, a well-written Dramatica grand argument story provides illustrations of all Dramatica elements and appreciations. That Stigmata offers dual storyforms and so-so what? storytelling--well that is indeed a sin.

Throughlines for Both Storyforms

  • OS: Political & Spiritual Machinations in the Church
  • MC: Fr. Andrew Kiernan
  • IC: Frankie
  • RS: The Meaning of the Stigmata

Storyform Settings for the First Storyform

Steadfast, Start, Be-er, Male, Action, Optionlock, Success, Good, Physics, Obtaining, Morality, Faith

Storyform Settings for the Second Storyform

Steadfast, Start, Be-er, Male, Action, Optionlock, Success, Good, Physics, Doing, Experience, Non-Accurate

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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