Here is Jim Emerson, a rather respectable critic, saying that story is virtually unnecessary in film. He actually concludes his post by saying:
Let's keep the story in perspective as just one element of a film -- like the aspect ratio or the the way it uses (or does not use) color. It may be more significant than that, or it may be less. Depends on the movie.
Here he says that story matters so little that it is actually on par with something as trivial as the shape and size of the frame.
Are you kidding me?!
Story has been proven to be so adaptable that it is hard to keep it limited to a single medium. It is amorphous. It flows from one medium easily into the next. From theater to film to television to video games to comic books to painting. It is pervasive.
Aspect ratio, generally, is a result of 1) technology, and 2) medium. For the most part it is completely arbitrary.
What scares me, is a post like this stems from his ignorance of what story really is. He talks about story as if it was synonymous with plot. He talks about the antithesis, as being characters living "life." Sorry, Jim, but that too is STORY.
Story isn't synonymous with plot. It's not what happens next. It's not even the characters, and whether or not we like them.
Story is a sum of all parts. It is characters on a journey. It is the tone and feel, and how we as an audience/reader/viewer feel about it. In short, story is everything.
Maybe this complete failure to understand story at its most basic by someone who is widely respected as a critic of movie story is a sign of the times. Maybe it is why so many movies get sent out with so little heart. So little emotional connection. So little story.
The irony is that, I believe, Mr. Emerson's post was actually trying to voice this opinion as well. It seems to me, that he was trying to get to the root of why so many piss-poor movies are being released. It sounds like he truly wants to see movies that are different, that aren't products of a multi-national corporations pushing movie like they push cans of Coca Cola.
Unfortunately, he came to the conclusion that story is unimportant. I couldn't disagree more. The answer isn't more or less story.
The answer is simply, STORY.