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Caper stories

 

Disciplines > Storytelling > Plots > Classic story types > Caper stories

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Lovable rogues execute spectacular crime (usually a theft) in exotic setting. Nobody gets hurt.

Fast cars, high technology and beautiful people litter the caper landscape. Even real villains are nattily dressed, although they may sport designer scars to signify their true status.

The 'lovable rogues' are typically bored millionaires or proud super-thieves who take more pride in the elegance of the crime and the genius of evading capture than the monetary value of what they are worth. They may also be confidence tricksters, which again allows them to demonstrate their audacity, intelligence and wit.

Sometimes real criminals get involved, typically trying to steal from the 'hero' rogues. This can lead to games of cat and mouse between the criminals, the rogues and the police.

Example

Ocean's Eleven
The Great Train Robbery
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

'The Persuaders' was a successful TV series in the 1970s, starring Tony Curtis and Roger Moore.

Discussion

There is often a villain-hero inversion in caper movies, where the 'criminals' are the good guys and the security forces are the bad guys. The charismatic nature of the rogues lead us to admire and hence align with them.

Caper movies typically involve stealing from rich people, casinos or impersonal museums, thus reducing the 'badness' of the theft as no individual who would be harmed by the theft is involved. These stories are thus related to the Robin Hood story, where we are invited to fantasize about engaging in unlawful activities, yet from a safe moral standpoint.

The motivation of the rogues may or may not be discussed. It is often 'just for fun', although they may still pocket the diamond, presumably to finance their extravagant lifestyle.

Caper movies are relatively easy to watch, neither being intellectually challenging nor frightening. They thus make good relaxed viewing.

Related to the caper movie is the heist (such as Asphalt Jungle), which is about a big robbery by real criminals (although they may still be sympathetic).

See also

 

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