The Fugitive (1993)

by | Sep 2, 2012 | - 2 - Regain Stories

When a Chicago surgeon unjustly convicted of murdering his wife escapes en route to prison, he returns to Chicago and attempts to find the true killer in order to clear his own name.

Medium: Film

Writer(s): Jeb Stuart, David Twohy

Director: Andrew Davis

Production Co.(s): Warner Bros. Pictures

The Story on the Screen

In The Fugitive, Chicago surgeon Dr. Richard Kimble is unjustly convicted of murdering his wife and is sentenced to death by lethal injection. On the way to the penitentiary in the prison bus, his fellow convicts mount a violent escape attempt, which results in his accidental freedom.

When Dr. Richard Kimble, a man unjustly convicted of murdering his wife, flees the scene of a prison-bus/train accident, he sets about trying to prove his innocence.

After fleeing the scene and avoiding recapture, he returns to Chicago to discover and expose the truth behind his wife's murder so that he can clear his name and bring the true perpetrator to justice. To do so, he must evade capture by a deputy U.S. marshal while performing his own private investigation into the crime.

Behind the Scenes

Richard's quest to clear his name is driven by a regain intent wherein the treasure that has been lost, taken away, or destroyed is his reputation as a man who loved (and did not murder) his wife and can be trusted in civil society. When he finds himself confronted by the deputy marshal shortly after his escape, he invokes his innocence to justify maintaining his freedom... and is promptly informed that the invocation is insufficient to its purpose. If he hopes to restore his reputation of innocence, he will need to escape yet again and pursue the restoration on his own.

If Richard's concern were to keep his accidentally granted freedom, he would attempt to flee the U.S. or to change (and keep secret) his identity and live undercover somewhere far away from Illinois. Instead, he returns to Chicago (a regain action) to expose the truth of the crime and, thereby, restore himself to human society.

Richard is a regain character whose treasure is his reputation as a man who did not kill his wife.

Because human beings are a social species, the opinion of the collective tends to carry significant weight in how we feel about ourselves and how we are viewed and treated by society. Consequently, it is not difficult to identify with a character who is unjustly accused of a crime, especially murder, and to sympathize with his effort to clear his name and make publicly known that he is not the killer. Richard's attempted endeavor is, therefore, one that the storytellers appear to consider advisable.

And because the issue at the heart of The Fugitive may be said to involve "striving to restore one's reputation of innocence," the proposition for The Fugitive may be stated:

  • One should attempt to regain his reputation of innocence when unjustly convicted of a sin against society, because success in the attempt will restore to him the trust of public society and result in the pubic knowledge of the truth.

In the end, Richard succeeds in his attempt to identify and expose those who are responsible for the murder of his wife and to thereby clear his name. We-the-audience are pleased that he does so; therefore The Fugitive stands as a fine example of a well-told succeed/pleased story.

Aspects to Admire Especially

As with most richly complex stories, The Fugitive involves a hearty mix of types of intent. Some of Richard's actions involve keeping—for example, disguising himself to keep hidden his identity and performing a death-defying jump from a dam to keep his freedom. Others involve gaining, such as acquiring knowledge about artificial limbs and searching hospital records in an attempt to identify the one-armed man whom he knows to be the killer. In fact, because he must conduct his own private investigation to find the true killer, gaining may be said to lie at the very heart of the investigation that serves as his central effort in the story. In this case, however, he exerts the gain effort in pursuit of the greater goal of clearing his name, which is a regain intent.

Richard's intent type in the story is entirely consistent with that of his personality and profession.

In addition, the regain intent of the main character in The Fugitive is entirely consistent with his characteristic type of intent as a surgeon whose profession calls on him to restore the health of his patients. Both efforts involve the regaining of a treasure that has been lost, taken away, or destroyed. If he were a cosmetic surgeon who specialized in nose jobs, his characteristic intent would lie in the realm of gaining—specifically, the improvement of his patients' appearances. And the story would be affected accordingly.

For More Information

For details regarding the concepts and terms used in this analysis, refer to the Discovering the Soul of Your Story overview video and the glossary. For more story analyses like this, visit the Story Analyses page (or use the search tools in the sidebar).

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