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What do all these cinematic universes have in common? We try to pull them apart. 

Nowadays, we’re so used to cinematic universes being the thing of Marvel and Star Wars that we often forget that any movie or TV show actually has to spend time building the world of the story

The universe in which your story takes place matters. It backs up the tone, visuals, and provides the “anything can happen” that makes your story exciting. But not every universe is different. 

If you’ve watched enough movies and TV, you can pull certain ideas that seem to vibe with one another. 

Well, our good friends at The Cinema Cartography noticed the same thing and made one of the best videos I have ever seen, which categorizes cinematic universes across genres. Check it out, and let’s talk after the jump. 

Explore Some of Film’s Greatest Cinematic Universes in This Hour-Long Video Essay

Man, that in-depth journey really made me see inside films differently. Starting with movies about cities was probably perfect because it was a 10,000-foot view of the subject. As we went deeper into the cities, from just a setting to an ethos, I really began to see that the place could be as big of a story inspiration as your plot. 

I usually brainstorm with characters and then build the world around that, but you can really start with a location and tell us who lives there. Case in point, Nashville

The further we drove into the video, the more I felt like we were on an ethereal plane. Which sort of made sense with the next category about lingering spirits. Which tells us about a universe with people passing through it. What shakes up your story and what would shake you up if you were a character in it? 

I particularly enjoyed the look at Chinatown and how the idea of what happens there permeates through the soul of the movie. I actually think that movie could possibly fit into the “Remember This Place” category in the video. 

That’s a trope we have seen shades of in other universes, like Garden State or even The Deer Hunter. It’s not quite the “return home” but it adds a magical quality to the places we see. I’m thinking of The 400 Blows where we end the movie in a close-up knowing that this character was going to change based on everything he experienced and the way he escaped trauma. 

The final category of “The World Is Not Here” was also an interesting journey. I think a maybe slightly better name would have been “The World Is Not As It Seems,” since it had some movies in it that showed characters approaching revelations about the world they thought were true once. Soylent Green would have been a good addition. 

It was fun seeing The Lighthouse represented as a newer film on the list, one that shows a world falling apart into insanity as two men fight over reality… and flatulence. Blade Runner was also a smart addition here. That’s a journey into asking what makes us human and examining the humanity in ourselves at the same time. 

I hope the video made you think about the universes in your cinematic endeavors on a deeper level. Did you learn anything you want to share? Put that in the comments. 

I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.      

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