Secret motifs on the Screen: Part3: The Watering Hole

This is part three of my ‘secret motifs’ series. Let’s look at bars, restaurants, saloons and other watering holes. A very common motif.

A watering hole is where all animals gather in a sort of strained peace. The slightest friction can spark off a free-for-all. In the movies, it’s a place where the hero forges alliances, meets the villain’s men or at least learns about the power of the opposing forces. This has to happen early in any story and screenwriters and novelists use this device to advantage in almost every movie. The scene is usually one of apparent peace, but you can always smell the tension in the air. Sometimes fights happen.

Harry Potter meets people from both sides at The Leaky Cauldron.

In Desperado, as in many Westerns, all intros take place in the cantina.

Luke Skywalker and Obi-wan Kenobi enlist Han Solo and Chewbacca at the Cantina. Indiana Jones meets his ally and heroine in her tavern in Nepal. He also meets the villain and a fight ensues.

Neo meets Trinity at a party in The Matrix.

In Troy, Paris slips off from a party to see Helen, noticed by a frowning Hector.

The Terminator in Judgement Day acquires clothes, bike and a gun from a biker at a diner.

Many movies start off with a party; check out The Godfather and Fellowship of the Ring.

Sometimes the story requires a modification to this device. In The Sound of Music, Maria meets the children and the Captain in the hall, and dinner happens later. But the verbal duel is there for you to see. Maria loses a bit in the hall, but gains points at dinner.

Similar to what happens to Jack at the high-class dinner in the Titanic.

The watering hole symbolizes the major conflicts in the story, in a frozen capsule. It also serves as an intro and a point when the hero acquires weapons, tools and allies. Apart from the above, we come to understand the nature of friends and enemies, and enemies assess the hero.

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Comments 12 comments

MrMarmalade profile image

MrMarmalade 8 years ago from Sydney

I have never appreciated all this areas previously, now i will make myself more observant. If I can.


G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 8 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

yup.... this is right on Kenny and you put it so well as always..I along with Mr.M. have a much better appreciation of the Watering Hole. Even as in Bambi or the Christmas Story these points are the same. They gathered for many reason's . Love your new pic also. My blessing to the family, G-Ma :o) hugs


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai Author

Thank you, dear friends, Frank and G-Ma. My first visitors, welcome!


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

Kenny! I've never put much thought into what the meetings at a watering hole could symbolizes. But now that you've pointed it out I will keep looking for them.

Fun hub, regards Zsuzsy


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai Author

Thanks and have fun, Zsuzsy! And remember me to the sidekicks! :)


Isabella Snow profile image

Isabella Snow 8 years ago

Love it!! :))


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai Author

Thank you, Isabella, and hope it's of some use to you as a writer. :)


funnebone profile image

funnebone 8 years ago from Philadelphia Pa

You change how I watch movies..thanks


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

I never thought about this before. Hmmm, interesting. Ah I remember Sound of Music, it is one of my favorite movies. Yes, I can still remember Maria and the Captain fighting and the dinner after that. hahaha Thanks Kenny.


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai Author

Thank you, my friends, Funne and Michelle!


First Eagle profile image

First Eagle 8 years ago

Great written

Water is the symbol of life, and in the life it is a lot of conflict. You describe it so well.

First Eagle, Thor Einar


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai Author

You are right, Thor! Thank you.

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