Hollywood Screenwriting Directory

Top 10 Central Themes in Film

Don’t reinvent the wheel. You’ve heard the phrase a million times, and never does it ring as true as when applied to screenwriting.

Often, you will hear people complain that it feels like they have seen the same movie 100 times, only this time with different actors and a new title. It’s true. Most movies do tell the same story over and over again. Few movies differentiate themselves by creating a revolutionary storyline.

Yes, it is common for films to center around the same theme. However, there is no need for dismay; just because a ton of movies are about the same thing doesn’t mean they are all the same movie. For example, take Due Date. The story is practically a carbon copy of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Both films have identical story lines, similar characters, and the same motifs. Yet, the two films are clearly different. It’s not the story itself, but the way the story is told that makes a movie great.

Listed below are the top 10 themes/motifs used in film. These themes serve as a staple to the underlying plots of most films. The most common themes in films describe an opinion about society, human nature, or life in general.

And while you’re getting ready to scoff at Hollywood for using the same themes repeatedly, think about how amazing it is that the same kinds of stories can be told in so many different ways. And while most of the repeated adaptations are lackluster, every so often one triumphantly takes the world by storm.

So, take a look at the most common themes and motifs in film. And embrace the wheel. It’s there for a reason.