The epic nature of the human face

Josh Pitzalis
2 min readMay 22, 2022

One of the biggest misconceptions is that stories need to be action-packed, or they’ll be boring.

The top 13 movies in 2021 were all action movies. Of course, the top four were superhero movies, with number one being Spider-Man.

There’s this pervasive idea that a big movie means explosions and guns and superpowers.

But this is simply not true.

Evan Puschak recalls watching the Hollywood Reporter’s annual directors roundtable where Kenneth Branagh said this:

“The other thing that I think these films all do is…you get the epic nature of the human face. You know, just seeing it in close, close up. Massive close-ups of faces in the cinema, that makes me feel different about the human condition.”

Massive faces emoting on massive screens is as epic if not more epic than explosions and battles.

Action can be compelling but only in as much as it serves the story.

Stories are fundamentally about people. And people reveal themselves through their faces. The face is where the most important most impactful most intense parts of a story occur.

Although the immersive experience of a massive face is specific to film, the underlying idea here translates to all mediums. People don’t care about the events of the story anywhere near as much as they care about the people in them.

This idea came from an episode of Nerdwriter, Faces On A Big Screen


It’s a short watch and it has a great scene from Licorice Pizza that really brings this whole idea home.

If this was interesting I have a more comprehensive post on Storytelling in marketing here