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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World


From the very onset, it is evident that the concept of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is aimed at engaging the audience into the movie. The motion pictures, which accordingly adhere to film form, are considered abundant in emotive, thought-provoking, and sensory elements. Considering the fact that form in all creative media consists of different components, basic and essential understanding can be provided by five general principles of film form, which are shortly described below.

The Function principle usually implies that, with each element introduced in a movie, there is always an explanation, or in this case, a function, which is attributed to the presence of this principle. Similarity and Repetition principle is usually concerned with important elements, such as character traits, objects, places, pieces of music, or lines of dialogue, which appear in the movie repeatedly. Difference and Variation principle shows the elements that do not repeat and demonstrate function and variety to contrast with other elements in the movie. Development principle usually explains and deals with patterning of different and similar elements in the movie. The principle of Unity/Disunity considers elements, which strongly stick together and exhibit a closed structure in the movie. 

In this paper, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is strictly analyzed as a formal system according to the following principles. All five principles are applied to the following movie, and one is able to identify the main stylistic and narrative elements, their functions, and the way they influence the story. Moreover, this paper also discusses if the movie achieves the sense of unity.

Function Principle

All stylistic and narrative elements of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World have their specific functions. The title itself gives the impression that the movie possibly centers on the confrontation battle between Scott and his protagonist, the “world.” Essentially, the title establishes the tone for the entire movie.

One can mention another aspect of function within the movie’s style and odd cuts. The movie certainly has the fast pace and quite rapid scene switch. As a matter of fact, there are two functions attributed to these elements. The first one is that the movie is aimed at creating a stylistic semblance to a comic book, as the movie itself generally refers to graphic stories of Bryan Lee O’Malley released between 2004 and 2010. The second one is that the movie also relies on the video game; certain scenes on the screen have multiple “panels” and the sound effect is shown as text above the main character’s heads. Moreover, the fight scenes remind the ones of the Mortal Kombat game. It often looks like the characters step into the game, as when one of the characters dies, he or she busts into many coins. In addition to the following elements, musical synchronization and rapid editing are used in order to punctuate what is happening on the screen.   

Similarity and Repetition Principle

Similarity and Repetition principle can be observed in the movie, first of all, in the personal traits of main characters. When Ramona and Scott meet each other, they are remarkably similar. As one can discover in the course of Scott’s fight with his antagonist Gideon, Scott and Ramona share the same trait of smoothing over their challenging past. 

One cannot but notice that every breakthrough in their relations comes after a battle. Their love story information is constantly interrupted by the fights. As a matter of fact, the evil ex-boyfriends play the same role as bosses in the video games. As well as in the video game, the character must defeat his enemy in order to move to the next level. One can notice the similarity between the linear narrative in the movie and the linear game.

Besides, one can also notice parallelism in the structure of the movie. When Scott defeats Gideon, the negative Scott appears. This idea corresponds to the game Knives that Scott used to play before. Such repetition of structure assists in linking the movie and the game more closely.

One of other important motifs in the movie is Scott’s memory. It is constantly known to be unreliable; however, one can discover that this is one of his most crucial character flaws. His memory is not only a critique of narrative structure, but it also has moral significance in the evolution of the storyline. In order to progress towards his goal, the main character has to stop distorting his own reality and forgetting his mistakes, and must accept his past and make conclusions.

Difference and Variation Principle

As far as Difference and Variation principle is concerned, one has to notice that the main character grows as a personality during the movie. The two scenes in the desert clearly prove the following fact. Scott takes different actions while facing the same situations. While, in the video game, Scott gives up the battle, he faces his evil self and accepts it, in the real life. The main difference between Gideon and Scott comes from the choice they make while confronting their past.

Although Scott’s confrontation with Ramona’s evil exes is mostly depicted as a physical conflict, the actual battle concerns the Scott’s moral growth. Scott is only able to defeat Gideon once he realizes his own shortcomings.

Development Principle

Bordwell (2008) suggests that before making an analysis of a movie, it is always important to begin with dividing it into sequences, as they constitute the plot. Considering a short segmentation of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, one can find some patterns of development in it and analyze how they have been changed in the movie.

According to Stam and Raengo (2005), it is necessary to clarify the time as the dimension of the story event. As a matter of fact, in the movie, the plot follows the chronological order. However, apart from the fact that Gideon is an organizer of this league of evil ex-boyfriends, one can notice that most causes are presented before one gets to know about that fact. However, it is rather easy to understand the main events in the movie, as they affect relationships, which occur in chronological order.

The plot of the movie recognizes two main patterns of the story development. The first one is the battles with evil ex-boyfriends, and the second one is the progression of Scott and Ramona’s relationship. Nevertheless, despite the mix of narrative patterns, the extra life Scott receives after he defeats the twins demonstrates that video game is the most important pattern in the movie.

Unity/Disunity Principle

In terms of principle of Unity, one can mention that the movie achieves the sense of unity through the unification of all aspects of the movie. The plot is logical, the motifs and parallels are well developed, and the repetitive pattern is rather coherent. It can be proved by the fact that the same situation takes place in each battle; firstly, Scott is put in a disadvantaged situation, but then he uses his courage, intelligence, or asks for help in order to win the battle. 

All aspects in the movie are logically established; for example, the color of Ramona’s hair before each battle corresponds to the hair color she had when she was dating the certain boyfriend.


In conclusion, it is obvious that, in terms of visual and narrative style, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was influenced by technology of comics and video games. The clear narrative structure, the use of parallels and motifs prove the remarkableness of the movie and the principle of unity in it.

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