Friday, 23 January 2015

How to understand movies? Lesson 1: Drama structure

My time in movie school has taught me one or two things about movies, TV-shows and plays. I want to share some of this knowledge with you all. This first lesson is most important and this is about Drama structure. I know it's lot of text and not for everyone but i tried to keep it as short as possible.

This is important if you are going to read movie reviews on our blog. I have seen that most of the movies use this structure called three act drama arc by Aristotle.
This applies most of the movies and about 95% of good movies. This does NOT apply on plain comedies (Comedies have different structure) but for example drama comedies (Which as you might imagine is mix of both) this will.
(Below: Drama arc in a drawn form.) 

Classical storytelling by Aristotle
Consists ¼ of the movie Act 1:

Prologue: Beginning minutes which for example introduce watcher to a world or a problem that is handled in the movie. For example in horror movies it's usually the first victim. These few minutes are usually before the ''real movie'' starts. You can think it as a glimpse what movie is heading towards. Prologue is not common and not every movie has one. Prologue is most common in horror movies. It's more rare than its counterpart epilogue which is addressed in end of this post.
Routine of life: This is the first 5-10 minutes of the movie which length is 90-120min. This shows viewer main character's routine of the everyday life.
Point of attack: This will happen in first 10 minutes of the movie. This introduces the main character to a problem or a conflict which leads into the first turning point of the movie.
First turning point: Happends right before second act and closes up the first act. This is the first conflict that main character has to face. This will ALWAYS be a negative force to the character.

Consists 2/4 of the movie Act 2:
Note: Usually many movies that are consider bad will collapse on this one simply as they can't keep movie interesting enough as act is half of the movie. This is for many writers / directors tallest mountain to climb.
Point of no return: Happens usually exactly middle of the movie. Something irreversible happens and as a result of that main character can't return to the starting point.
Quite self explanatory really. This will lead to second turning point of the movie.
Second turning point: Happends after about ¾ of the movie and closes up the second act. This is the second conflict that main character faces. This is completely different situation or changed form of a first turning point. Just like first turning point; this is always against the character.

Consist the last ¼ of the movie Act 3:
The climax of the movie: Happends middle of the third and last act. This is the payoff of the movie and usually brings the message of the movie; Basically what story tries to say. To the main character it means the finish or a closer to a conflict. Character either successes or fails at the goal that has been laid out.

Epilogue: This is the ''What happened after'' section, for example in horror movies this can be the last about 10-30 seconds which hint/show that the evil that seems to be vanguished in climax still lives or the story is not completely over. But in many cases it shows what changes if anything happened to a main character after two conflicts and solution. Movie can also end to the climax. Epilogue is not in every movie. Epilogue is a lot more common than its counter part prologue.

I hope you liked the post! It is okay if you didn't understand it fully. I will come back to this on my every movie review and hopefully it will help to clarify this post more with examples. :) (art below drawn by Lindwörm. Thanks, love)


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