MovieChat Forums > Bringing Out the Dead (1999) Discussion > I don't understand when people say it do...

I don't understand when people say it doesn't have a plot


It's about a burnt out paramedic over the course of three shifts in early 90s NYC. How is that not a plot? And as for the random things that happen, if you've ever worked in healthcare you know you meet some very random people throughout the course of your day.

I get that people might not have liked the story but it has a story. The story is that of a burnt out paramedic on the job for a few nights and the people he encounters and works with.

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that's the story but it has no plot points that forward the story..

It's just 2 hours of ambulance driving

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It has an episodic structure with Frank on the streets with three different paramedics. He is trying to save one life and can't, until he finally does save one and takes away another. He wants forgiveness and redemption. It is a pretty tight story but it does not really follow any traditional plot. Scorsese himself said that only twice he dealt with films that had plots - Cape Fear and The Departed. He likes watching plotted films but not necessarily dealing with plots.

Bringing Out the Dead
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All plots are stories, but not every story is necessarily a plot.

EM Forster illustrated the difference this way. He said "The King died, and then the Queen died" is a story, but that "The King died, and then the Queen died OF GRIEF" is a plot.

The difference? Causality. That is, the events in the tale being knitted together through cause and effect.

So yes, this movie might have a story, but it doesn't sound like it has a very tightly woven plot (Then again, many good films don't: DINER, for one; AMERICAN GRAFITTI for another)



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Well, we can let everyone argue whether or not this film has a plot. Either way, I don't really care, this is just a great film.

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