Presenters

Ashton WebbFollow

Academic department under which the project should be listed

RCHSS - English

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Faculty Sponsor Name

Anna Weinstein

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Life Itself, written and directed by Dan Fogelman, is a heartbreaking tale featuring three different couples and the journey that life takes them on. Throughout the film there are common themes of heartbreak, marital problems, and death. The three stories are joined together by one devastating event, and Fogelman shows how beauty can be made from ashes. In this presentation, I will explore the themes of love, heartbreak, and depression and how these themes shaped the film, allowing Fogelman to intertwine three stories into one in order to tell an interconnected story. Though the film was not well received by many critics due to the uncomfortable themes and unfortunate circumstances that the characters face, I will argue in this presentation that Fogelman intended to demonstrate with this film that “life itself” is an unreliable narrator. As the character Abby, played by Olivia Wilde, says, “The most unreliable narrator is life itself.” This quote leads to further psychoanalysis of the film, bringing into question the twists and turns that life brings and how love, heartbreak, and depression are all part of life, but it’s never certain and we never know when it might happen. This presentation will analyze how Fogelman created a compelling and atypical screen story by drawing from personal experience to develop complex characters, all connected by one tragic event.

Disciplines

Creative Writing | Film and Media Studies | Screenwriting | Visual Studies

Project Type

Oral Presentation (15-min time slots)

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The Journey of Life Itself

Life Itself, written and directed by Dan Fogelman, is a heartbreaking tale featuring three different couples and the journey that life takes them on. Throughout the film there are common themes of heartbreak, marital problems, and death. The three stories are joined together by one devastating event, and Fogelman shows how beauty can be made from ashes. In this presentation, I will explore the themes of love, heartbreak, and depression and how these themes shaped the film, allowing Fogelman to intertwine three stories into one in order to tell an interconnected story. Though the film was not well received by many critics due to the uncomfortable themes and unfortunate circumstances that the characters face, I will argue in this presentation that Fogelman intended to demonstrate with this film that “life itself” is an unreliable narrator. As the character Abby, played by Olivia Wilde, says, “The most unreliable narrator is life itself.” This quote leads to further psychoanalysis of the film, bringing into question the twists and turns that life brings and how love, heartbreak, and depression are all part of life, but it’s never certain and we never know when it might happen. This presentation will analyze how Fogelman created a compelling and atypical screen story by drawing from personal experience to develop complex characters, all connected by one tragic event.

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