Multiple characters, Multiple plot strands

Director Fernando Meirelles returns to the big screen with 360, a film about the interlocking lives of a group of characters across the globe. We look at some of cinema’s finest multi-stranded stories.

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Fernando Meirelles’s new film 360, which is released in UK cinemas this month, combines many stories into one, linking characters from different cities and countries in a suspenseful and moving tale of love.

360 is released nationwide on August 10. To celebrate its release Top 10 Films delves into the idea of multiple story lines intertwining and coming together at the end.

With 360 in mind, here are some more memorable films that weave different story lines together.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Focused on the completely separate lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of restaurant robbers, this story intertwines four stories of violence and redemption. These storylines are linked to one another as the incidences in one storyline have an impact on some of the occurrences in the other story lines.

Traffic (2000)

The film revolves around separate stories that are connected in one way or another. A conservative politician and the US drug czar learns that his daughter is a drug addict. A wife struggles to save her husband’s drug business, while two DEA agents protect a witness with inside knowledge of her husband’s business. A corrupt, yet dedicated cop finds out his boss may not be the anti-drug official he made himself out to be.

Snatch (2000)

This film unravels the day-to-day lives among the characters to eventually show how their lives intertwine. An unauthorized and illegal boxing match is somehow connected with a stolen diamond. In the beginning, the two storylines seem to have nothing to do with each other, but eventually the two slowly start to come together to form one interlocking plot.

Love Actually (2003)

This is the story of nine people connected to each other using one unifying emotion—love. Among the nine stories, are David, who is the newly elected British prime minister, falls for a young worker from his office, Sarah, a girl who cares for her mentally ill brother so much it affects her love life, and Harry, a married man who is attracted to his new secretary. The stories surprising cross paths in one way or another.

Crash (2004)

A group of Los Angeles citizens, with extremely separate lives, somehow collide into each other by the intertwining stories of race, loss and redemption. The different characters with different cultural backgrounds are webbed together in various crisis situations that, in turn, expose racial prejudices throughout the film.

He’s Just Not That Into You (2009)

Many well-known Hollywood actors including Jennifer Anniston, Ben Afflect, Scarlett Johansson and Bradley Cooper star in this tangled string of love stories. It’s a film about falling in love, falling out of love, and looking for love through the eyes of many different perspectives—that somehow connect to each other.

Valentine’s Day (2010)

A group of Los Angeles residents’ stories intertwine as they spend their time throughout the film focusing on romance on the same Valentine’s Day. Whether single or in a relationship, the characters experience the highs and lows of looking for, staying in or ending relationships on the day made for love.

New Years Eve (2011)

Another group of A-list actors, including Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sarah Jessica Parker and Hilary Swank, star in this happy love story as their character’s lives are intertwined somehow. Many of them run into each other and cross paths as their stories tie together on the last day of the year.

360 (2011)

This film effortlessly merges multiple stories into one, linking characters from different cities and countries in a suspenseful and moving story of love. While the story begins in, Vienna, the film makes its way through Paris, London, Bratislava, Rio, Denver and Phoenix with multiple storylines forming one overall intertwining story.

Follow the stories for yourself with 360 – in cinemas August 10th

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Your turn – what are your favourite multi-stranded films?

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Avatar
    Jack Deth Reply

    Hi, all:

    A superior list for interwoven tales.

    Though, I always find myself falling back on one of the oldest, most subtle and simplest films. ‘Lonely Are the Brave’. With Kirk Douglas, Gena Rowlands, Walter Matthau and just starting to get noticed Caroll O’Connor and George Kennedy.

  2. Avatar
    Sam Fragoso Reply

    Crimes & Misdemeanors comes to mind. So does “Hereafter”.

    Fun list guys!

  3. Avatar
    DEZMOND Reply

    as you know I adore both omnibus stories and ensemble casts! Those are my fave films usually. Loved both CRASH and LOVE ACTUALLY, and I’m looking forward to 360. Both VALENTINES DAY and NEW YEARS EVE were also lovely heartwarming films and this world needs more of those.

  4. Avatar
    mark Reply

    Ni hao

    Other possible contenders:

    (1) Altman’s Nashville and Short Cuts;

    (2) Esteves’ Bobby;

    (3) Jarmush’s Mystery Train and Night on Earth (where the characters are sort of linked in a metaphysical way);

    (4) Friedkin’s Sorcerer (thanks to the exposition which doesn’t appear in the original Wages of Fear).

  5. Avatar
    ruth Reply

    I think my fave from this list is Love Actually. I don’t think I’ll watch Valentine’s Day, such a rip off from Paris, Je t’aime which is wonderful.

  6. Avatar
    Raghav Reply

    In the last decade or so there have been many films based on the multiple character multiple stories theme and to be honest that is one reason I decided to give 360 a miss for a little while. I like the films, because it brings a variety of talent together, but then they usually require a lot more attention and sometimes the sub-plots get boring. Still great round-up

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