What is the difference between a film's story and plot?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Swedish director, producer, and screenwriter, Ingmar Bergman famously once stated,

"[Andrei] Tarkovsky for me is the greatest [director], the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream."

Thus, the story of a film is what it is about, but the plot is the interpretation of that sequence of events. Or, as writer E.M. Forester stated, the plot "is also a narrative of events, [but with] the emphasis falling on causality" rather than the mere sequence of events.  In order to exemplify this difference, consider the movie Lust for Life based upon the biographical novel of the same title by Irving Stone.  This film is about the life of the great Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh; however, it does not simply chronicle van Gogh's life; instead, the plot is a reflection of his constant and tortuous inner turmoil and desire to perfect his art and be recognized as an artist (his "casuality").


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