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The Myth of Three Act Structure

Original Article by Film Critic Hulk


http://filmcrithulk.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/hulk-presents-the-myth-of-3-act-structure/
Translated from Hulk-speak y !att "a#arus
$ hear it all the time: %prolems in the film&s second act.'
(ll) the fuckin*) time.
+ow $ understand the intention of the statement, it usually implies when a film treads water,
or loses track of characters, or runs out of steam, or crams stuff in, or whate-er. $ *et how
the comment is intended. The prolem with this *eneric %second act' desi*nation that really
it can imply a prolem with anythin* in the %middle part' of storytellin*. $t is eyond -a*ue.
.o what creates such wishy-washy storytellin*/ (nd the e-en wishy-washy-ier way of
e0plainin* it/
$t1s created y the e-er-popular notion of the 3 act structure, which is the most aominale
way to e0plain storytellin* ima*inale. 2-en if someone wrote a story usin* the model as
*uide, it is still, essentially, a myth.
$n order to e-en discuss, $ first must define what constitute an %act.' 3eople use the word all
the time with out really otherin* think what it means. $t sort of 4ust *eneral placeholder for
%e*innin*, middle, and end.' (nd well) that means nothin*.
.o $, as well as many screenwriters, professors, actual *ood ooks on su4ect, and many
other smarter people than $, define the end of an act as followin*: a point in story where
character5s6 make choice and can no lon*er %*o ack.'
lostmeme.4p*
The %point' of course is purposely -a*ue. (fter all, there are many different kinds of stories,
all with many different kinds of *oals. 7ut you may say %7ut couldn&t that point really e
anythin*/ "ike a character 4ust lea-in* his house and *rain* coffee or somethin*/'
8kay, it has to e sli*htly more -alid than simple chan*e in action or en-ironment. The act
reak can e new and interestin* plot point, a poi*nant character decision, a personality
re-eal, two pre-iously un-met characters ecomin* friends, or e-en, if handled correctly,
somethin* as insipid as %+o9 The ad *uys are here9 :un9' $t can e anythin*, as lon* as it
chan*es the narrati-e -alue. The characters always ha-e to mo-e forward in some new
reality/situation.
The true end of an act creates propulsion.
;ith this definition, film can ha-e any numer of acts, dependin* on what tryin* to say/do. (
mo-ie like !("<8"! = has aout > distin*uishale acts in my estimation, each focusin* on
time in his life where !alcolm *oes throu*h period of focus and come to new kind of
enli*htenment or character reality. $t truly epic film that takes the standard iopic 5which tend
4ust 4ump from e-ent to e-ent in persons life6 and separates them into -ery o-ious
%sections' of character de-elopment. $t one of my fa-orite mo-ies to point to when it comes
to multi-act-laelin*.
(nd heck, some mo-ies ha-e upwards of 20 acts. $t1s all a ?uestion of what story you1re
wantin* tell and the etter you understand this %mo-in* forward' markin* of act reaks, the
etter the screenplay at propellin* narrati-e in meanin*ful way.516
$t1s stran*e when you look at certain-oh-so-terrile mo-ies with this definition of an act-
definin* and reali#e %holy crap, some of these mo-ies do nothin* like that9'
.kyline!o-ie3oster.4p*.
@up. This tiny it of ad-ice of i*norin* 3 act structure in fa-or of constant character
de-elopment would sa-e hundreds of mo-ies.
Aor e0ample, the recent-and-utter-shit-fest GREEN LATERN has one real *enuine act reak.
:epeat. 8+2. 8h sure, there is stuff that happened, ut in terms of main character
propulsion/ +ope. To reiterate the plot: Hal Bordan C a pissy-ass fi*hter pilot, he is *i-en
lantern rin*, *ets #apped to 8a 5neither is his decision6, he trains for all of two seconds and
?uits to *o ack ein* pissy-ass non-fi*hter pilot. $t1s not until >0 different scenes of relati-e
mopin*, fut#in* around in suit, and fuckin* re4ectin* 7lake "i-ely&s ad-ances, that he
emraces ein* "antern and makes actual fuckin* decision to chan*e character and *o ack
to 8a. (nd don1t tell me Hal *ettin* the rin* C an %act reak' ecause he then spent then
entire %middle' of mo-ie *oin* ack on that. :epeat, the film has one act reak. That1s it.
2-erythin* else, outside of Hector Hammond 5who is the one an actual story arc6 is 4ust stuff
happenin*. There is no clear character moti-ation at play in anyone else. The film, alon* with
hundreds other mo-ies, doesn1t reali#e what %acts' mean. They don1t reali#e that characters
ha-e make decisions.
$ lame this strin*ent elief in e0istence of %3 act structure' for crap like this. $ really do.
Aor starters, it *oes ack to that prolem of people not e-en tryin* define %act reaks'
whatsoe-er. This whole e*innin*, middle, and end thin* makes some asic sense in terms of
%summari#in*' a plot, ut it literally *i-es #ero indication of how actually write that story. $n
the traditional model of 3 act structure then the 1st act all %introduction/set up' and the 3rd
act %the clima09' ;hich oth -a*ue ut pretty self-e0planatory) ut then there is the second
act which often 4ust defined as %rise in conflict') seriously what the fuck does that e-en
mean/
<lima0.4p*
;hate-er it means, it1s certainly not *ood storytellin*. .ure, $ *uess it1s an incredily -a*ue
summary of what1s happenin*, ut a*ain, it1s not instructin* how actually do that. +one of
the *ood stuff, which is critical to character arcs, moti-ation, relationships, propulsion. +one
of it9
!ost of time it leads writers to 4ust try make connectin* points etween the e*innin* and
endin*. That aout it. ;hich means characters don1t mo-e forward in any discernile way.
They 4ust wait around for D0 minute mark so that they can e*in that endin* thin*y. $t1s a
shell *ame of unmoti-ated e-ents all ecause the definition of 3 act structure C complete ass.
(s result, we hear it all the time: %the prolem is in the film&s second act.'
.o okay, let&s *et serious. $f the 3 act model sucks and acts are merely 4ust the point of 'can-
no-*o-ack,' how do we actually approach structure, then/ "et me compare the traditional 3
act model with that other oh-so-famous act model created y the *reatest storytellin* *enius
of all time: ;illiam .hakespeare.
;illiam.hakespeare.4p*
Aact: .hakespeare&s plays had E acts) repeat: E) not 3.
(nd for sake of e0planation, $ will use .hakespeare&s most popular play, :omeo and Buliet 526,
to help illustrate my upcomin* point aout nature of story structure.
The 1st act is comprised of introductions and estalishin* of pre-e0istin* central main conflict
5i.e. Two families at odds, :omeo is a lo-esick pup o-er :osaline, Buliet is a nai-e and
lo-elorn *irl6. +ow, this pre-e0istin* conflict in the ack*round is sort of important ecause it
creates a condition of the world the audience enterin*. $t create a sense of space, history,
and elie-aility. (nd it is a i* surprise to me how often it i*nored in tradition of *rand
lockuster filmmakin* that so popular nowadays. (nd heck, e-en if it some intricate human
drama, the pre-e0istin* conflict *i-e reason for the occurrence of the main action which spur
plot into effect.
The 2nd act is usually comprised of some kind of turn or re-ersal which challen*es or deeply
worsens the main conflict, usually in the form of relationship de-elopment, a re-eal, or
surprise 5i.e. .tar-crossed teena*ers :omeo and Buliet meet and *o *a-*a o-er one another,
which is a hu*e prolem *i-en the nature of the pre-e0istin* conflict6. 7asically, this act
features the main de-elopment of the story. $f $ had to e0plain what the mo-ie is aout, the
conflict ein* descried should e the thin* happenin* somewhere in here, re-ealed in
whiche-er way enefits the story most.
The 3rd act comprise a turnin* point. This need not e a %twist' ut more of a spurrin* action
that makes the conflict infinitely more complicated 5i.e. !ercutio dyin*, :omeo then killin*
Tyalt6. 8ften these moments are surprisin*. They deeply affect not only the seriousness of
the main conflict, ut e-en alter the actual direction of it. This the sort of thin* alluded to in
the %rise in conflict' statement, ut you know, way more specific. The 3rd act is such *reat
opportunity in storytellin* and .hakespeare&s 3rd acts often thin*s of eauty: *reat
in-ersions. 7est intentions *one awry. Feaths9 "oss9 <onfusion9 .udden chaos9 The most
important thin* that e-en thou*h these this 3rd acts don&t finish the arc of the story, they still
clima0-worthy in scale, and not 4ust %hey, let&s put an action scene here9
!ichael7ay.4p*
7ut the real key with the third act to make the %turnin* point' one that is deeply affectin* and
to chan*e the arc of the story. $t is somethin* far more important then 4ust %puttin* thin*s in
place for clima0'. .peakin* of which)
The Gth act then %the spiral' and it actually full of decisions that cause characters sink toward
the real clima0 5i.e. :omeo and Buliet decide *o on the lam, hatch a plan to fake their deaths,
etc6. $n truth this the point where you really arran*in* and settin* up the clima0, ut in that
*oal it1s important to rememer that stayin* true to character arcs. $t is really the est place
to e0pose the deep character flaws that will either rin* down hero or allow them succeed.
5meanwhile, the third act turnin* point can sometimes allow for main character actin* out
of character. $t a neat little distinction6. The Gth act also *reat opportunity for ?uiet moments
of reflection efore the finale, ut it can no 4ust e all reflection and pausin* 5cou*h
cou*h *reen lantern6. (*ain, that %full of decisions' aspect need e there. The pace should
?uicken. Thin*s should feel like they fallin* out of control. $t1s the spiral.
(nd the Eth act is where audience *et the clima0/resolutions/weddin*s/tra*edy/fallout/etc.
5i.e. :omeo and 4uliet kill sel-es, family heartroken and declare peace6. 5G6 the most
important thin* to rememer that it isn1t 4ust %wrappin* thin*s up' ut the encapsulation of
the story and should e0hiit all the points one tryin* make in mo-ie. The clima0 and
resolution C the *oal of your mo-ie. $t should e the summation of e-erythin*you written so
far. $t should not e a freakin& afterthou*ht.
(*ain, this E act structure thin* 4ust an e0ample. <an do whate-er you think est. "ike the >
acts in !alcolm =. 7ut if you1re lookin* for tool to help structure your story then, well, one
could do a lot worse than .hakespeare. +o matter what the story: tra*edy, comedy, or
history, he used this specific E act structure e-ery time. The intro, the conceit, the turn, the
spiral, the clima0. He *ets heaped with praise o-er mastery of lan*ua*e and the deep
resonance of thematics, some e-en credit him as the father of psycholo*y, ut he 4ust so
fuckin* rilliant at story structure to oot) it1s sort of unfair. (nd $ know it may seem lame to
rin* up such an o-ious choice as %est writer e-er' ut, well, he was.
Hweneth3altrow.hakespeare$n"o-e.4p*
$ want you to *o ack to the traditional definition of 3 act structure for a second. @ou may
notice somethin* -ery important when comparin* it to .hakespeare&s model. The way the
second act descried in 3 act structure C the same way act G defined in .hakespeare&s
model. His %spiral' really similar to the %rise in conflict.'
$ ar*ue that this so fuckin* tellin* it1s not e-en funny.
$t means that this little way that .hakespeare escalates the stakes and positionin* the
end*ame C the same e0act way Hollywood screenwriters handle the entire middle parts of
their *oddamn mo-ie.
+o wonder they are aimless and orin*.
Aor one, it1s no mistake that .hakespeare&s act G always the shortest, least interestin*, and
least compellin* of e-ery sin*le one his plays. .o ima*ine tryin* fit that same story tellin*
lo*ic into the 30-I0 sum odd pa*es that make up second acts/ $t mean they characters 4ust
waitin* around. $t mean the writers 4ust tryin* come up with distractions and .s. <onflicts
that ha-e nothin* to do with the point. <onflicts that don1t affect the arc of story. $t means
that writers end up crammin* too much *ood stuff in %first act' to try and estalish all needed
details when really they missin* *reat opportunity for de-elopin* a story at or*anic pace.
.o maye .hakespeare1s not your thin*. @ou may ask %How does E act work with popular
mo-ies/ 20amples, please.'
$:8+ !(+ has e0ceptional story structure. The one thin* e-eryone seemed to lo-e that it
spent so lon* efore Tony actually ecome %$ron !an' so they *et e0perience all the *reat
character de-elopment to *et there. 2-eryone lauded the fun sense of ad-enture that came
from him actually uildin* the suit. $t ne-er rushed *ettin* to %the action' that cause the
storytellin* C the action. 7ut this was a i* ud*et mo-ie999 How did this happen/ H88F
.tructure that&s how. Huess how many acts the mo-ie had/
@up. A$J2.
.hakespearean$ron!an.4p*
(ct one K intro L state of pre-e0istin* conflict K we *et see Tony as playoy and the e0ternal
moral conflict of supplyin* weapons.
Two K The conceit and puttin* at odds with pre-e0istin* conflict K Tony captured and put in
terrorist camp. Fisco-ers reality aout his weapons uildin* and life threatened. 7uilds
prototype suit and escapes.
Three K the turnin* point K Tony, now ack at home, makes a moral decision and shuts down
his company1s weapons operation and chan*es the direction of his life. Tony decides to
continue on path and uild new suit. 8adiah is re-ealed as the ad *uy ehind Tony&s
kidnappin*. Tony *oes li-e with his suit.
Aour K The spiral/escalation of conflict K Tony continues to use the suit out in real war conflict
and has %hero trials,' so to speak. He admits the truth to :hodes, *ets sidelined y 8idiah, is
now in *rim circumstance. +otice that these de-elopments feel more of the action-y wheel-
spinnin* acti-ities that reek of standard act 2 de-elopments one sees in 3 act structure. 7ut
in this mo-ie/ 7ecause it come after the awesome suit-uildin* turn of act 3, it feels fresh
and e0citin* to see $ron !an in action. $t *oes on for a perfect 5shorter6 len*th of time efore
mo-in* to ine-itale finale.
Ai-e C clima0/conclusion/resolution K Tony&s conflict with 8idiah comes to its conclusion,
oth personally and as, you know, i* iron men fi*htin* in death suits. The important part is
that all the plots all come to*ether e-en thou*h the action felt underwhelmin*. $ actually
found that part kinda neat as it meant %the action' C the least interestin* part of i* summer
lockuster. That an achie-ement.
<harismaticTony.tark.Bp*
.ome of you may ar*ue there lots other possile act reaks in iron man. That is asolutely
true. Hreat writin* is filled with %micro-acts' which help propel e-ery scene forward. There
are really many different stories: Tony&s arc with pepper has its own act reaks. Tony&s
relationship with 8idiah has its own reaks. $t1s what makes a story feel propulsi-e L
or*anic. (fter all, e-ery scene should ha-e real *oal and o4ecti-e to it. .o *oin* ack to the
point at hand, laelin* all that *reat character de-elopment and decision-makin* in the
middle of mo-ie as 4ust %rise in conflict' C fuckin* asinine.
(nd it1s not 4ust .hakespeare and $ron man folks. $ find that most traditional narrati-es 5at
least the well told ones6 ha-e aout E-I acts. $t 4ust a *reat model for traditional storytellin*.
+otice that all one hour TJ dramas alre se*mented into E acts/ @es, it1s for commercial
reaks, ut this ma*ic numer no real accident and it really help make TJ shows propulsi-e.
(*ain, like anythin*, you more than allowed to reak away from this model, ut you e
surprised how many non-traditional narrati-es utili#e E-I acts.
3eople loooooooo-e talk aout Muentin Tarantino&s non-linear storytellin* as counter e0ample
to %act-ased' storytellin*. 3articularly with 3ulp Aiction. 7ut *uess what/ That mo-ie e0actly
E acts 5plus little -i*nettes6.:eser-oir Fo*s/ E acts. 7oth Nill 7ills/ 2ach one has E
acts. $+H"8O:$8O. 7asterds/ E acts. @ou sense a theme/
MuentinTarantino.4p*
$ cannot emphasi#e this enou*h.
( story is a multifaceted thin*. $f you want to structure your story, rememer to ha-e oth
act structure for the main plot and act structure for the each of your characters personality
de-elopments. 7y ha-in* all these -aryin* structures, each with their own eats, it creates a
constant sense of %mo-in* forward' for mo-ie. That1s why they call it %de-elopment' and it is
the key to rin*in* your audience alon* for 4ourney.
3erhaps you think hulk ein* too hard on 3 act structure. That perhaps $1m simplifyin* it in
effort to tear it down.
Aine.
:ead this %summary' of 3 act structure and en4oy the i**est e0ample of missin* the fuckin*
point in history:
Http://www.lavideofilmmaer.com/filmmain!/screenpla"-tips-three-act-structure.html
# wow. Hulk mean) wow. This *i-en as actual ad-ice. (nd what aout that ama#in* part
where he take act 2-G of .hakespeare&s writin* and estalish it as his %act 2P which not only
hilarious in its o-er-simplification ut it actually i*nore 3 act structure rules ecause the
conceit is introduced in seco thend act not end of first. The whole thin* is lau*hale.
7adThree(ct.tructuredia*ram.4p*
3lease. $f you are writin* screenplay. $ am tellin* you: the 3 act structure C *ara*e.
.top citin* it in articles. .top talkin* aout it with friends. $t will not help you. $t can only hurt
you.
.tay the fuck away from anyone who e-en claims it e0ists. $f they say it do. .ay %or course
shit has e*innin*, middle, and endin*, you insufferale turd' then throw a drink in their face
and run away)
# okay, maye $ am *ettin* carried away. 3erhaps all this ad-ice useless.
(fter all, it is particularly tellin* of Hollywood that they e-en fail at the asics of this supposed
3 act structure. 7ecause so many mo-ies *reen-lit on 4ust a %pitch' and some stars attached,
you asically ha-e mo-ies ein* made that ha-e only fi*ured out the conceit, meanin* they
only know the first act) and that fuckin* it. The endin*s of these arely estalished conceits
uniformly tend e terrile. $t ecause the writers 4ust keep writin* in strai*ht line from their
startin* point, pursuin* the fallout til they 4ust run out of steam. @ou would e stunned y
amount writers that don1t plan out mo-ies and 4ust sort of writin* stream of consciousness.
(nd yes, there are some *eniuses who *et away with writin* like that ut truth is, those
*eniuses ha-e inherent understandin* of pacin*, de-elopment, characteri#ation, and
propulsion so it flowin* out naturally to them.
$t really is inconcei-ale to me that folks can start makin* mo-ie without truly %knowin*' the
endin*. $f you want to e writer, always know your endin*. Heck, your endin* should e the
most important thin* you do. To reiterate, no one e-er seem reali#e that the endin* is the
conceit. $t literally the complete summation of what you fuckin* tryin* to say.
$am"e*end.4p*
To summari#e this insane rant:
The amount of acts mo-ie should e dependent on story want to tell. 2ach act should reach
this mo-in* forward point in or*anic, earned way. (nd total numer dependent on how much
tryin* accomplish with story. !ore importantly, they should all tie to*ether in coherent way.
(+F Then, ultimately, it should try e done with est economy possile without losin*
anythin* critical or affectin* the or*anic ?uality.
$ lo-e rin*in* up the ori*inal Nun* Au 3anda all the time, not ecause it *reat mo-ie, ut
ecause it knew perfectly how to inte*rate simple stories into coherent and economic
narrati-e. $t was so true to the asics and yet completely effecti-e. $t was storytellin* 101.5I6
$ know, $ reference storytellin* 101 all freakin* time. $t1s ecomin* my mantra. 7ut it
stunnin* how often people for*et the most asic tenants.
(*ain, my emphasis on storytellin* 101 is not a how-to-*uide of strin*ent rules, it merely a
tool help make what you want do more focused. 7ecause in order in-ert rules, one must
understand the rules in first place. Hulk heard this all time in writin* classes and the
reellious minded youth tend pay it no heed. 7ut it not until much later in life, after lo**in*
aout 1000-2000 hours of screenwritin* that hulk really %*ot it' so to speak.576
+o matter who you are, storytellin* lar*ely aout prolem sol-in*. 8ne can always come up
with *reat ideas that moti-ate and e0cite, ut the other half that e?uation fi*urin* out how
make translate to fully formed reality. How make a mo-ie that true to that conceit/ 8ne that
work on e-ery le-el/ Oltimately, the writer ask how make this scene work/ How estalish
what want say/
$t1s prolem sol-in*. (nd take my ad-ice. the 3 act structure won1t help you prolem sol-e.
BustFie.ydAield.4p*
2ndnotes:
516 @es, e-en with %chase mo-ies' the simple act of %it the ad *uys9 :un9' work in terms of
chan*in* the situation reality, ut it often ecome so dull and repetiti-e that more interestin*
thin*s ha-e e *oin* on/definin* the situation. This the chief reason !ichael 7ay mo-ies
don1t work. $t1s only the chase. .ure, he sometimes ale to mask this !ac*uffin/set-piece-
4umpin* with distractin* -isuals or attempts at ?uasi-racist comedy, ut the chase always
ecome orin*. There no actual intri*ue.Q
Q $s there a chase mo-ie that is 4ust all plot ut that still works/' @es. The Arench <onnection.
That mo-ie kicks 100R ass ecause it work off pure intri*ue and two likale
characters/actors you follow down the rait hole. $t perfect. (lso A=&s %the shield' knew how
deal create a stream of shiftin* narrati-e intri*ue across I seasons. $t can e done.QQ
QQmeanwhile, BB (rams only seems to know how to present the most appeti#in* intri*ue
e-er, ut then he doesn1t know how del-e into it) whatsoe-er. 2-eryone always demands
%answers' of BB&s work, ut really they 4ust want catharsis. 8r heck, e-en de-elopments will
do) you know what/ Auck, if they don&t 4ust want storytellin*) the mystery only *o so far.
526 .orry folks, it1s not my fa-orite play, ut it1s est known. .o it helps when tryin* e0plain.
536 (nd now, $ ha-e a helpful tool for you9 .ometimes there e0pression used in screenwritin*
called %pa*e 17P which means that y pa*e 17 the audience should now ha-e idea where the
film *oin*. $t sound dum and it certainly not hard or fast rule, ut you e stunned y
numer of scripts that hit the conceit of their mo-ie e0actly on pa*e 17. $t 4ust sort of *ood
place to aim ecause it *i-e enou*h room oth estalish the world and then e on way. +ot
always, ut *enerally if you waitin* til pa*e 30 to *et to freakin* conceit, you waited to lon*.
(nycrap. (im for pa*e 17-ish.
5G6 $ 4ust want to mention that :omeo and Buliet mi*ht e most misunderstood play in
history. @es, .hakespeare critici#es o-er#ealous and domineerin* parenta*e 5and racism y
pro0y6 and e-en thou*h he understands youn* lo-e and all that, .hakespeare also clearly
e0pressin* that :omeo and Buliet were dumass rats who took themsel-es way, way, way
too seriously. They weren&t in lo-e. They were infatuated. The play aout the pratfalls of
infatuation. There. $ said itQ
Qoooooh, and random note on .hakespeare: $ talked aout characters ha-in* make decisions.
;ell Hamlet a play that literally aout indecisi-e character. The key is that it still has tons of
narrati-e steam as it deal with other aspects of his character and e0plores the effects of his
missteps on account of said indecisi-eness. (nd it1s maye est play e-er. !o-in* on9
5E6 "et mek e-en think outside the o0 here. .o many mo-ies are so careful to tell e-erythin*
aout characters ri*ht up front, so you know e-erythin* ri*ht away. $ think this is a mistake.
Think aout it. $f a character re-eal and %twist' work the same way in terms of pro-idin* new
information to audience, why not take lon*er to re-eal some *ood information and make
second acts more interestin*/ (ttack the 7lock is a *reat e0ample of a mo-ie that takes its
time in re-ealin* the characters and pro-idin* intri*ue, all while the ( plot de-eloped around
them. .o $ ask, %;hy not introduce a character o-er lon*er period of time/' H$L% Recentl"
espouse the incredi&le merits of Happ"-!o-Luc" ecause it *radually re-ealed more dimensions
of its main character o-er the entire course of the mo-ie. (nd not to eat a dead horse, ut
*oin* ack to Hreen "antern, that mo-ie was so ?uick to hurry up and estalish all the
aspects of Hal Bordan that were pertinent efore he *ot the rin*, that it had literally nothin*
to say aout him after he *et it. (nd hey rememer the family they introduced at the
e*innin* that ne-er show up in rest of mo-ie/ O*h.
5I6 To illustrate further, $ compare it to (-atar, which was also hi*hly aware of all its structural
eats. @et Nun* Au 3anda actually knew how to in-esta sense of emotion and make the story
feel oth real and inte*rated to all the characters at hand. @es, they oth took simple
approaches to story. 7ut Nun* Au 3anda used that simplicity to achie-e a cohesi-e narrati-e,
while (-atar was paint-y-numers. (nycrap)
576 $t rin*s up an interestin* dilemma with re*ard film critics. .creenwriters lo-e to lamast
the critics as know-nothin*-wannaes. This strikes me as mis*uided and a *ross
misunderstandin* of the role of critics. Their 4o, in this era especially, is to foster and en*a*e
in a dialo*ue with consumers. To dismiss the critic&s reaction is to indirectly insinuate that the
consumer has no -alue either. ;hich is a i*, i* prolem. 7OT, on other end of spectrum,
they do ha-e point. ;ritin* a cohesi-e narrati-e is an e0tremely difficult task and unless you
ha-e a real familiarity with the practice itself, not 4ust the end results, its easy to not
understand how the prolems one encounters manifest on screen. There a million ways a
*ood script can e massacred y final product or ways a crappy script can e ele-ated to
somethin* more functional, ut all of that complication can e oscured when -iewin* the
final product. ;hat critics miss most of all is that writers are often acutely aware of their own
work&s failin*s. 7ut they went with their choice ecause they felt it may ha-e achie-ed a
lar*er *oal, or it would come off differently, or simply ecause someone else did somethin*
different and they had no choice. ;ritin* is lar*ely a *ame of %what loses here/' $n order to
concentrate on (, 7, < and sometimes F falls y wayside. (nd there always someone in
audience who cares aout F. Oltimately, the est films na-i*ate this difficult path seamlessly.
They pick the ri*ht thin*s focus on and keep e-erythin* alanced with tone) and its asurdly
difficult.