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Narrative
Structure
in Film
Most film narratives are
goal-oriented.
The protagonist’s pursuit of a
goal determines the narrative
structure.
The villian’s goal may also
drive the plot.
Three-Act Structure
1
Exposition
Three-Act Structure
1
Exposition
Three-Act Structure
Introduces characters and
dramatic situation.
Protagonist forms a goal.
2
Complicating Action
Three-Act Structure
2
Complicating Action
Three-Act Structure
Protagonist faces obstacles
in pursuit of goal.
3
Climax and Resolution
Three-Act Structure
3
Climax and Resolution
Three-Act Structure
Protagonist confronts opposition. Goal
is achieved (or not).
1 Exposition
Introduces characters and dramatic
situation. Protagonist conceives a goal.
2 Complicating action
Protagonist...
Three-Act Structure
Turning Point
Three-Act Structure
Turning Point
Protagonist gets a new goal or must
change tactics in pursuit of a goal.
Turning Point: New situation,
new goal in Act Two.
Turning Point: Capture leads to
confrontation and climax.
Act Two
Act Two
Complicating Action:
Protagonist has to change
tactics to achieve goal, or
protagonist faces a new
situation and h...
Act Two
Complicating Action:
Protagonist has to change
tactics to achieve goal, or
protagonist faces a new
situation and h...
Turning point in Act Two:
Change in tactics - get the broom.
1 Exposition
Introduces characters and dramatic
situation. Protagonist conceives a goal.
2A Complicating action
Protagonis...
Epilogue
Three-Act Structure in
1
Epilogue3
2
1 Problem. What to do?
2 Things get complicated.
3Crisis.
3Resolution.
Epilogue
Narrative
Structure
1. Exposition: “Well, hello, Hildy.”
Turning Point:
“I’ll offer you two a business proposition.”
2. Complicating Action:
“Production for use.”
Turning Point (midpoint):
“Hey, look out, it’s a jail break!”
2. Development: “It’s too late.”
Turning Point:
“She’s dead.” “No, she isn’t killed. She’s moving””
3. Climax and Resolution:
“We’ve been in worse jams than this.”
Epilogue:
“All right, we can honeymoon in Albany.”
Analyzing Narrative
• What is the protagonist’s goal at the
beginning of the movie? How does the
protagonist pursue this g...
Another way to think of
structure.
Photo Credits
Arbre Evolution (Flickr)
Trey Ratcliff, Stuck in
Customs (Flickr)
kurtxio (Flickr)
Three-Act Narrative Structure
Three-Act Narrative Structure
Three-Act Narrative Structure
Three-Act Narrative Structure
Three-Act Narrative Structure
Three-Act Narrative Structure
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Three-Act Narrative Structure

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Three-Act Narrative Structure

  1. 1. Narrative Structure in Film
  2. 2. Most film narratives are goal-oriented.
  3. 3. The protagonist’s pursuit of a goal determines the narrative structure.
  4. 4. The villian’s goal may also drive the plot.
  5. 5. Three-Act Structure
  6. 6. 1 Exposition Three-Act Structure
  7. 7. 1 Exposition Three-Act Structure Introduces characters and dramatic situation. Protagonist forms a goal.
  8. 8. 2 Complicating Action Three-Act Structure
  9. 9. 2 Complicating Action Three-Act Structure Protagonist faces obstacles in pursuit of goal.
  10. 10. 3 Climax and Resolution Three-Act Structure
  11. 11. 3 Climax and Resolution Three-Act Structure Protagonist confronts opposition. Goal is achieved (or not).
  12. 12. 1 Exposition Introduces characters and dramatic situation. Protagonist conceives a goal. 2 Complicating action Protagonist faces obstacles in pursuit of goal. 3 Climax and resolution Protagonist confronts opposition. Goal is achieved (or not).
  13. 13. Three-Act Structure Turning Point
  14. 14. Three-Act Structure Turning Point Protagonist gets a new goal or must change tactics in pursuit of a goal.
  15. 15. Turning Point: New situation, new goal in Act Two.
  16. 16. Turning Point: Capture leads to confrontation and climax.
  17. 17. Act Two
  18. 18. Act Two Complicating Action: Protagonist has to change tactics to achieve goal, or protagonist faces a new situation and has to cope.
  19. 19. Act Two Complicating Action: Protagonist has to change tactics to achieve goal, or protagonist faces a new situation and has to cope. Development: Protagonist struggles toward goals. Incidents create action, suspense, delay.
  20. 20. Turning point in Act Two: Change in tactics - get the broom.
  21. 21. 1 Exposition Introduces characters and dramatic situation. Protagonist conceives a goal. 2A Complicating action Protagonist faces obstacles in pursuit of goal. 2B Development Action, suspense, delay. 3 Climax and resolution Protagonist confronts opposition. Goal is achieved (or not).
  22. 22. Epilogue
  23. 23. Three-Act Structure in
  24. 24. 1 Epilogue3 2
  25. 25. 1 Problem. What to do?
  26. 26. 2 Things get complicated.
  27. 27. 3Crisis.
  28. 28. 3Resolution.
  29. 29. Epilogue
  30. 30. Narrative Structure
  31. 31. 1. Exposition: “Well, hello, Hildy.”
  32. 32. Turning Point: “I’ll offer you two a business proposition.”
  33. 33. 2. Complicating Action: “Production for use.”
  34. 34. Turning Point (midpoint): “Hey, look out, it’s a jail break!”
  35. 35. 2. Development: “It’s too late.”
  36. 36. Turning Point: “She’s dead.” “No, she isn’t killed. She’s moving””
  37. 37. 3. Climax and Resolution: “We’ve been in worse jams than this.”
  38. 38. Epilogue: “All right, we can honeymoon in Albany.”
  39. 39. Analyzing Narrative • What is the protagonist’s goal at the beginning of the movie? How does the protagonist pursue this goal? • What obstacles block the protagonist’s efforts? • Does the protagonist’s goal change? Does the protagonist have to change tactics in order to achieve the goal? (When? Why?) • Is the goal achieved? When? How?
  40. 40. Another way to think of structure.
  41. 41. Photo Credits Arbre Evolution (Flickr) Trey Ratcliff, Stuck in Customs (Flickr) kurtxio (Flickr)

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