Show vs. Tell.
As writers, we're often told to describe our characters' joy, sadness, and fear rather than state it as a fact. Communicating relationships through dialogue and body language is an important part of the craft of writing...so why am I about to show you a movie clip?
Because the 1979 version of The Black Stallion, produced by Francis Ford Coppola of Godfather fame, does an amazing job of showing the emotions and character development of the young protagonist, Alec (and of the stallion, for that matter).
Once Alec is saved by the wild stallion he admired on a traveling ship (the ship goes down, killing everyone else, including Alec's father), the two create a hesitant, then powerful bond on the beach where they survive until they're found by fisherman. There is little to no dialogue for quite awhile, and I found myself entranced.
I highly recommend renting this movie (or your local library may carry a copy!) as an exercise in creating powerful emotion with a lead character who goes through an incredible circumstance, but doesn't use much dialogue or internal thought to express himself during or after.
Throughout the film, we rely largely on Alec's body language and facial expressions to know what's in his heart. And the same exact thing goes for the horse. We really come to know the horse's personality in this film, which I love.
A movie works in images, but a writer uses words to paint those images and emotions. I found wondering how I would describe the scenes I was watching and saying to the hubby, "This is a PERFECT example of show, don't tell, and less is more." The beach scene of this movie is so very poignant and elegant that I had to share it...but I couldn't find an isolated movie clip.
I DID find a video that combines scenes. The clip is long (seven minutes), transitioning between the deserted island, and the race that Alec eventually enters with the stallion. It offers a variety of images from the film rather than a single scene, but will give you an idea of how the cinematography acts as a narrator. The clip focuses on the stallion as a character, not Alec.
If you like the imagery you see (even if you only have time to view a minute or so), I urge you to find a way to see this beautiful film.
*You might want to scroll forward to about a minute and thirty seconds if you're bored with the film shots at the beginning~ it picks up :)