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Suspiria Analysis

Story Analysis Description 2

*Analysis based off work of Robert McKee, Joseph Campbell, John Truby and Syd Field



Protagonist Suzy Bannion
Desire Conscious: Figure out mystery at ballet school
Conflict Levels Inner: Fear of death
Personal: Witches
Extra-Personal: Anti-feminist society that won’t believe her
Character Characterization: Aspiring, young ballet student
True Character: Strong willed hero
Antagonist Mysterious Coven
Desire Conscious: Maintain secret power
Conflict Levels Inner:
Personal: Suzy, Sara, Daniel
Extra-Personal: Outside world that would take away their power
Character Characterization: Malevolent coven
True Character:
Desire Conscious: Figure out mystery at ballet school
Conflict Levels Inner: Fear of death
Personal: Witches
Extra-Personal: Anti-feminist society that won’t believe her
Character Characterization: Aspiring, young ballet student
True Character:
Desire Conscious: Be a pianist
Conflict Levels Inner: Blindness
Personal: Witches
Character Characterization: Bossy egotist
True Character: Scared man
Principle of Antagonism Positive Survival Pessimistic Injury
Negative Death Negation of Negation Metaphysical death
Controlling Idea: Overcoming evil requires courage because the forces of darkness are powerful.



Inciting Incident Suzy arrives at ballet school
Act One Climax Suzy collapses and moves into academy
GAP Strange things keep happening, upsetting perceived norms
Progressive Complications Daniel dies and maggots spring out of the ceiling
Midpoint Suzy sees strange figure behind curtain
Act Two Climax Suzy learns about the coven rumors
Act Three Climax Suzy takes down the coven leader
Resolution Suzy emerges from the smouldering wreckage of the academy


SEQUENCE ONE – Status Quo & Inciting Incident Suzy tries to get to school and Patricia is killed.
SEQUENCE TWO – Predicament & Lock In Suzy practices at school and gets ill, keeping her stuck there.
SEQUENCE THREE – First Obstacle & Raising the Stakes Maggots rain down from the ceiling.
SEQUENCE FOUR – First Culmination/Midpoint Suzy comes face to face with the coven leader behind the curtain.
SEQUENCE FIVE – Subplot & Rising Action Daniel is murdered.
SEQUENCE SIX – Main Culmination/End of Act Two Sara is murdered and Suzy learns about the academy’s history.
SEQUENCE SEVEN – New Tension & Twist Suzy finds the headquarters of the coven and murders Markos.
SEQUENCE EIGHT – Resolution Suzy escapes the school as it burns to the ground.



ORDINARY WORLD American world of ballet
CALL TO ADVENTURE Suzy witnesses Patricia running from school out of fear
REFUSAL OF THE CALL Suzy pretends as if strange happenings are normal
CROSSING FIRST THRESHOLD Suzy forced to stay at school as she becomes ill
TESTS, ALLIES, ENEMIES Sara becomes friend as strange happenings and murders continue
MEETING THE MENTOR Suzy meets psychiatrist and Dr. Wilius for advice
APPROACH TO INMOST CAVE Suzy navigates down hallways to coven
ORDEAL Suzy fights off Markos and the coven
REWARD Suzy realizes her strength
RESURECCTION Suzy escapes the crumbling academy
ROAD BACK Suzy leaves the academy
RETURN WITH ELIXIR Suzy realizes her strength



1. Self-revelation, need, and desire
Self-Revelation: Suzy is a strong willed hero
Psychological Need: Stand up against fears
Moral Need:
Desire: Excel as a ballerina
2. Ghost and story world
Ghost World: Normalized American schooling
Story World: Dancing academy
3. Weakness and need
Weakness: Frightened foreigner
Need: Stand up for herself
4. Inciting event
Inciting event: Suzy arrives at school
5. Desire
Desire: To excel at school
6. Ally or allies
Ally or allies: Sara
7. Opponent and/or mystery
Opponent and/or mystery: What killed Patricia and haunts the school?
8. Fake-ally opponent
Fake-ally opponent: Headmistress, Miss Tanner… pretty much everyone
9. First revelation and decision: Changed desire and motive
Revelation: Suzy gets sick
Decision: Suzy forced to live at academy
Changed desire and motive: Suzy must fight through illness because she is judged as a foreigner
10. Plan
Plan: Suzy continues practicing at school
11. Opponent’s plan and main counterattack
Plan: Witches keep anonymity and maintain power
Counterattack: Kill whoever crosses them
12. Drive
Drive: Suzy wants to do well at school and avoid mystery
13. Attack by ally
Attack by ally:
14. Apparent defeat
Apparent defeat: Witches poison Suzy to keep her compliant
15. Second revelation and decision: Obsessive drive, changed desire and motive
Second revelation: Sara is missing
Decision: Try to find out what is happening
Changed desire and motive: Find Sara because she is her friend
16. Audience revelation
Audience revelation: Mysterious force is killing people
17. Third revelation and decision
Third revelation: The academy may be a coven for witches
Decision: Suzy tries to figure out if rumors are true
18. Gate, gauntlet, visit to death
Gate: Suzy traces Sara’s steps to iris wall
Gauntlet: Suzy finds the coven
Visit to Death: Suzy comes face to face with Markos
19. Battle
Battle: Suzy fights against the re-animated corpse of Sara
20. Self-revelation
Self-revelation: Suzy is a strong individual capable of taking on evil
21. Moral decision
Moral decision: Suzy kills the witch to save herself and others
22. New equilibrium
New equilibrium: Suzy leaves the academy a stronger person



Modern Fable The film is clearly evocative of fairy tales, particularly Grimm and Germanic stories. The movie presents Suzy as Snow White or Little Red Riding Hood against a backdrop of magic that the world has supposedly forgotten about, but still exists beneath the surface of modern day life. The witches are elemental beings, tampering with the forces of nature against the goodness of the world. Their use of animals (maggots, bats, dogs) speaks to their abuse of the natural world. Suzy must set that right by burning them down.
Women as Strong Though not explicit in the story, the lack of male characters and masculinity itself bears investigation. The younger girls are presented as naive, unable or unwilling to take responsibility as they are controlled by older women. The headmistress and Miss Tanner are strong characters but abuse their power. For Suzy, she gains strength through ingenuity and will, not malice as the witches do. This is then a portrait of two different types of feminine strength: the kind that abuses others through a top-down hierarchy and the kind that relies on feminine bonding (Sara and Suzy) and inner strength. The film argues that Suzy survives because she has that inner strength to survive against a belief system that demands inferiority.



Scene #1 Getting to Ballet School
Protagonist Suzy
Desire Get to ballet school
Antagonist Weather
TP Suzy turned away
Value Advancement
Role Introduction to Suzy, Patricia Inciting Incident offscreen: Witches frighten her
Analysis The audience is introduced to Suzy: young, American, out of her element, naive. She is thrust into a strange land of fairy tale, similar to little red riding hood skipping along to Grandma’s house. The moody rain, dark trees and haunting music elevate her journey into a foreign world. Turned away at the gate, she sees a girl, Patricia, running from the school and into the woods.
Scene #2 Patricia Murdered
Protagonist Patricia
Desire Escape
Antagonist Mystery force
TP Patricia murdered
Value Survival
Role Patricia Act One Climax: Patricia murdered
Analysis Patricia as a character sets up the mysterious force that will plague Suzy and the other dancers. Her fear and questions notify us that something is out of balance at the academy, but we don’t know what it is or who is behind it. Her gruesome death informs us that the mysterious force is dangerous and violent.
Scene #3 Introduction to School
Protagonist Suzy
Desire Make a good impression
Antagonist Miss Tanner, Madame Blanc
Value Impression
Role Introduction to School
Analysis The audience is introduced to the dynamics of the school, its hierarchy. Miss Tanner and Madame Blanc are strange characters, different than how we would think them to behave. From this, we get the sense that everyone knows something that Suzy doesn’t, setting up her character as our point of investigation; As Suzy discovers the secrets of the Academy, we will as well.
Scene #4 Other Girls
Protagonist Suzy
Desire Meet other girls
Antagonist Other Girls
TP Suzy watches as the girls fight amongst themselves
Value Impression
Role Introduce cohort of girls and show Suzy as an outsider
Analysis Suzy is highlighted as an outsider, not fitting in with the other girls at the academy. Their petty squabbles and ego keep them from connecting, keeping Suzy out of their loop of confidence. As the story develops, Suzy being a solitary individual outside of an eventual friend will keep our empathies aligned with her.
Scene #5 Suzy Talks with Olga
Protagonist Suzy
Desire Fit in
Antagonist Olga (roommate)
TP Suzy thinks dead girl was hiding a secret
Value Mystery
Role Awaken mystery
Analysis The camera moves in towards Suzy as she remembers that night with Patricia. Why did the girl run away? How did she die? What was she saying as she left? The answers to these questions will aid Suzy at the film’s conclusion. For now, they pose issues that Suzy must overcome to succeed.
Scene #6 Ballet Practice
Protagonist Suzy
Desire Do well
Antagonist Headmistress
TP Suzy turns down room in school
Value Strength
Role Show Suzy standing up for herself
Analysis Up to this point, the audience thinks little of Suzy. She is Snow White: innocent, naive, seemingly easily manipulated. By refusing a room in the academy, Suzy demonstrates a strength hidden beneath the surface.
Scene #7 Vision
Protagonist Suzy
Desire Escape vision
Antagonist Witch presence
TP Suzy makes it out of hallway
Value Survival
Role Deepen mystery at the academy
Analysis The rows and rows of red portend to the unease of the scene. Suzy feels something frightening, but she can’t understand what. Red, the color of blood, is a visual metaphor for the evil of the coven.
Scene #8 Suzy Collapses
Protagonist Suzy
Desire Fight through ache
Antagonist Mysterious force
TP Suzy collapses
Value Impression
Role Act One Climax: Suzy is commited to the academy as the mysterious force poisons her and forces her to stay.
Analysis The repetitive motion of dancing drives Suzy to collapse. Although Suzy may not realize it yet, we know that she has been poisoned by the coven to keep her under their thumb. This is her unwilling commitment to the story.
Scene #9 Sick In Bed
Protagonist Suzy
Desire Get well
Antagonist Ilness
TP Suzy agrees to take medicine
Value Advancement
Role Deepening mystery
Analysis Suzy is given a strange medicine to overcome her illness. This will keep her at the academy after her initial refusal of a room. She is being sedated to gain her compliance.
Scene #10 Maggots
Protagonist Suzy
Desire Escape maggots
Antagonist Maggots
TP Find source of maggots
Value Survival
Role More tension building
Analysis There’s a buildup leading to the maggot realization. There’s something in her hair. What is it? There’s a maggot. Why? Then there’s more. She rips them out of her hair. Then she looks up. They’re falling out of the ceiling. Then screams from other girls. They’re everywhere. The buildup brings out the horror of the moment. What is happening in this house?
Scene #11 Contingency Plan
Protagonist Headmistress
Desire Fix maggot problem
Antagonist Maggots
TP Decides everyone will sleep in dancing hall
Value Propriety
Role Headmistress Act One: Keep school under control. Her Inciting Incident occurs offscreen, which is Patricia running away.
Analysis Sleeping in the studio will provide more clues for Suzy to unravel the mystery.
Scene #12 Sleeping in Studio
Protagonist Sara
Desire Figure out cause of strange snoring
Antagonist Mystery
TP Sara concludes strange woman is behind sheet
Value Mystery
Role Sara Inciting Incident: Find cause of mysteries at school. Midpoint: Face to face with malevolent force.
Analysis The color red is used again to mark a transition into the evil witch world, this time the outline of the matron witch. We are also introduced to her strange snoring which will be used in terrifying effect later on in the film. This is the midpoint of the film as Suzy comes face to face with the source of the mystery though she doesn’t realize it yet.
Scene #13 Dog Argument
Protagonist Miss Tanner
Desire Get rid of dog
Antagonist Blind pianist Daniel
TP Pianist storms out
Value Propriety
Role Daniel Inciting Incident
Analysis This scene sets up the second confrontation with the coven. Daniel’s dog bites the headmistress’ son. Miss Tanner, defending her coven, fires the man after he is rude about it. This confrontation sets up another investigation into the witches by Suzy and the audience.
Scene #14 Charting Steps
Protagonist Sara
Desire Chart steps
Antagonist Mystery
TP Successfully charts steps
Value Mystery
Role Setup
Analysis Sara, intrigued by the mystery surrounding the academy, counts the steps walking down the hallway. This will prove useful to Suzy at the film’s conclusion.
Scene #15 Daniel Murdered
Protagonist Daniel
Desire Find attacker
Antagonist Mysterious force
TP Daniel mauled
Value Survival
Role Daniel Act One Climax
Analysis The force that hunted Patricia in the film’s opening reveals itself again as Daniel is mauled by his own seeing eye dog. This further illustrates the power of the coven and its far reach.
Scene #16 Suzy Remembers Words
Protagonist Suzy
Desire Figure out cause of murders
Antagonist Headmistress
TP Headmistress can’t help
Value Mystery
Role Setup for Conclusion
Analysis Suzy remembers Patricia uttering the words “secret iris” that fateful night. This is a setup for Suzy’s actions during the conclusion.
Scene #17 Sara’s Demise
Protagonist Sara
Desire Survive
Antagonist Witches
TP Murdered
Value Survival
Role Sara Act One Climax
Analysis As Sara realizes she is in imminent danger, the lights change around her. She is physically and mentally ensnared in the web of the witches, her murder the catalyst for Suzy’s further actions.
Scene #18 Suzy Learns about Sara
Protagonist Suzy
Desire Find Sara
Antagonist Witches
TP Suzy learns Sara disappeared
Value Mystery
Role Deeper stakes
Analysis The stakes for Suzy deepen as her one friend, Sara, has disappeared. This casts her off in a way, her alone against the coven.
Scene #19 Suzy Tries to Find Sara
Protagonist Suzy
Desire Find Sara
Antagonist Coven
TP Suzy can’t find Sara
Value Mystery
Role Deeper stakes
Analysis Suzy realizes she is on her own and must solve the mystery herself.
Scene #20 Suzy Learns about Witches
Protagonist Suzy
Desire Find Sara
Antagonist Witches
TP Suzy learns about Sara’s theories of witches
Value Mystery
Role Act Two Climax
Analysis Through Sara’s friend psychiatrist Frank, Suzy learns that the school was established by a woman named Helena Markos whom locals believed to be a witch. She also learns about her status as a Black Queen and that a coven can only survive with its leader. This information will prove vital for Suzy at the film’s conclusion. She now knows how the coven was started, who she is up against and how to destroy it if she can believe in the fantastical. This catapults her into the last act of the film.
Scene #21 Bat Attack
Protagonist Suzy
Desire Beat back bat
Antagonist Bat
TP Suzy kills bat
Value Survival
Role Approach to Suzy’s test
Analysis The bat is a threshold guardian, preparing Suzy for her journey into the world of the witches. Killing it again reveals her inner strength, a courage that will be tested.
Scene #22 The Coven
Protagonist Suzy
Desire Beat back Coven
Antagonist Witches
TP Suzy stabs Markos
Value Survival
Role A3 Climax
Analysis Suzy uses everything she has learned over the course of the story to survive; Sara’s research (counting footsteps), Patricia’s mumbles (turning the blue iris to open the secret door) and Dr. Milius’ knowledge (killing the head of the coven). Suzy wanders down a hallway, disappearing into the maze of the witches. She peers behind a curtain to glance at their world, seeing their evil coming after her. The light again is used to show the power of the witches and Suzy realizes that everyone is in on it, against her. As Suzy hides from the coven, she hears the labored breathing, taking our memories back to Sara’s theories about the woman behind the sheet. We then realize as Suzy does that it is Helena Markos. Suzy must summon her strength and fight against the evil witch who remains hidden from her until she stabs her in the neck, revealing her haggard, ugly appearance. Sara’s body being used a surrogate killing machine against Suzy highlights how Suzy and the other girls are viewed as just a means to an end, their youth and beauty manipulations of the coven. The crumbling coven after the death of Markos highlights the power they held once again, that power dissipating out of them.
Scene #23 Escape
Protagonist Suzy
Desire Escape
Antagonist Crumbling witch world
TP Suzy leaves school
Value Survival
Role Conclusion
Analysis The world of the coven falls apart. The entire academy is revealed as a facade for their evil ways. Suzy leaves not quite unlike Patricia at the start of the film, but with a smile on her face. She has conquered the evil that destroyed Patricia and Sara and feels realized.


Setting the story up as a fable allows Argento to deal with elemental forces to create complexity around an otherwise simple narrative. In effect, the film can be seen as an exploration into the human psyche in similarity to myths.

Suzy delves into the realm of the unconscious at the academy, developing from naive youth to strong individual. The entire film feels like a dream in many ways. Many shots and sequences are set up as mazes, highlighting this exploration into deeper realms of consciousness. The empty landscapes of most of the film allow the characters and sets to stand out as canvases, seemingly painted on the screen. As the story unfolds, Suzy is seen constantly peering through windows and curtains, symbolically delving deeper and deeper into the psyche. What she finds is a true horror, a perversion of nature, the result of the ego turning against its better nature. Faced with the repercussions of the power of the ego gone amuck, Suzy is able to beat back the current of its force and complete herself.

This is of course just one possible interpretation of “Suspiria.” Given the wide open nature of the narrative, there are many others. Perhaps the world, so antifeminist as it is, has morphed a group of women into a hyperfeminist cult, their need for power twisting into evil. Or the power of age, how the coven finds the need to lure young women to them, the need to stay young metastasized in their dogma.

Suzy is not given a lot of characterization. We know little about her past, her motivations. In one sense, this allows us to put our own interpretation of her character on the screen. In another, it prevents us from being more fully invested in the story. And given that the film is a mere 22 scenes long, not knowing more about any of the characters keeps us at arm’s length away from investing in the narrative.

The true star of the film, of course, is the cinematography. DP Luciano Tovoli utilizes a broad array of colors to create a beautiful film, using Technicolor to its full effect as it borrows from Italian Giallo and German Expressionism. Combined with the score by the Italian band Goblin, this creates a distinct, surreal atmosphere that’s beyond reality. We clearly enter into the witches’ world and these elements, designed by Argento, transport us.

It is the greatest ability of the film, something totally original and defining. There’s a reason why we think of Argento, we think of these moments instantly. In a way, the plot is secondary to the creative transportation Argento creates. His film canvas is a representation of our mind and dreams and nightmares.



“The Dark Knight” Analysis

Story Analysis Description

*Analysis based off work of Robert McKee, Joseph Campbell and Syd Field

*Special thanks to Movieclips for their clips below



Protagonist: Bruce
Desire Conscious: Stop crime in Gotham
Conflict Levels Inner: Fear of failure and letting parents down
Personal: Joker, Rachel, Harvey
Extra-Personal: Gotham city, heroism
Character Characterization: Gotham’s savior
True Character: Insecure and flawed
Turn: Gotham’s dark knight
Antagonist: Joker
Desire Conscious: Throw Gotham into chaos
Conflict Levels Inner:
Personal: Mob bosses, Batman
Extra-Personal: Gotham city, order
Character Characterization: Crazed killer
True Character: Anarchist mastermind
Desire Conscious: Stop crime in Gotham
Unconscious: Find fairness and balance
Conflict Levels Inner: Ego, anger
Personal: Joker, mob bosses, Batman
Extra-Personal: Chaos, Gotham city
Character Characterization: Gotham’s white knight
True Character: Filled with vengeance
Turn: Psychopath
Desire Conscious: Stop crime in Gotham
Conflict Levels Inner: Fears of losing family
Personal: Joker, Family, Harvey
Extra-Personal: Gotham, chaos
Character Characterization: Good cop working to save the city
True Character:
Desire Conscious: Choose a lover
Conflict Levels Inner: Heart and mind
Personal: Harvey, Bruce
Extra-Personal: Gotham and crime
Character Characterization: Assistant DA trying to figure out life
True Character:
Desire Conscious: Help Bruce
Conflict Levels Inner: Moral qualms
Personal: Bruce, Reese
Extra-Personal: Crime, Gotham
Character Characterization: CEO tech guru
True Character:
Gotham City
Desire Conscious: Regain spirit
Unconscious: Find morality
Conflict Levels Inner: Morality
Personal: Mobsters, cops, Batman, Joker
Extra-Personal: Chaos
Character Characterization: Eager for hope
True Character: Terrified and chaotic
Turn: Willing to believe in good
Desire Conscious: Help Bruce
Conflict Levels Inner: Fears of letting Bruce down
Personal: Bruce
Extra-Personal: Gotham, Chaos
Character Characterization: Old, kind mentor
True Character:
Turn: Willing to hide truth to save Bruce
Principle of Antagonism Positive Justice – Batman defeats Joker Pessimistic Half-justice – Harvey pretends to be the Batman
Negative Injustice – Joker causes chaos Negation of Negation Injustice in guise of justice – Batman takes the fall for Harvey’s crimes
Controlling Idea:
Justice prevails because our inner morals are strong.


Inciting Incident Gordon teams up with Harvey Dent and unites him into the cohort with the Batman
Act One Climax Lao gives the police the mobsters he can, cleaning the streets of crime
GAP Joker causes chaos and deepens the stakes for Gotham
Progressive Complications Joker continues to escalate the war against Batman, testing the fortitude of Dent, Gordon and Bruce
Midpoint Joker is apprehended
Act Two Climax Harvey becomes Two-Face
Act Three Climax Batman takes down Two-Face
Resolution Batman takes the fall for Harvey’s crimes



ORDINARY WORLD Batman hunts down the criminals of Gotham
CALL TO ADVENTURE Batman teams with Gordon and Harvey and agrees to bring in Lao
MEETING THE MENTOR Bruce talks with Alfred and Lucius
TESTS, ALLIES, ENEMIES Bruce teams with Gordon, Lucius and Harvey while Joker emerges
REFUSAL OF THE CALL Bruce volunteers to turn himself in to stop the Joker
APPROACH TO INMOST CAVE Batman confronts the Joker in the cell after his capture
ORDEAL Bruce loses Rachel as the Joker escapes
REWARD Bruce learns about what he must do to stop the Joker
ROAD BACK Bruce confronts his old friends, Gordon and Harvey
RESURECTION After being shot by Harvey, Batman rises to save Gordon’s family
RETURN WITH ELIXIR Bruce realizes what the Batman is and must be


HERO Bruce
ALLY Gordon


HEROISM AND IDOLISM What is the concept of a hero? The idea of a hero may be more important than the hero him/herself.
JUSTICE AND CHAOS Batman, Gordon and Harvey each seek a form of justice for their own particular reason: Bruce, to avenge his parents, Gordon, to protect his family and Harvey, to fulfill his ego. This quest for justice comes with a price for each of them. The Joker is an agent of chaos. His form of anarchy seeks to devolve humanity into a lesser creature while the trio seeks to elevate mankind through a moral code.


Batman, Gordon and Harvey Saving Gotham
Rachel Chooses Harvey or Bruce
Joker Takes Over the Mob
Bruce and Alfred
Harvey Becomes Two-Face
Gotham’s Soul
Gordon Protects His Family
Lucius Directs Bruce’s Morals



Scene #1 Bank Heist
Protagonist Joker
Desire Steal Money
Antagonist Mob men
TP Joker has the bus take out the last henchman
Value Power
Role Introduction of the antagonist. Joker Inciting Incident occurs offscreen: it is a mystery why he causes chaos, but something in his past has set him on this course
Analysis The introduction of the Joker sets up his mysteriousness and ability to incite chaos. We don’t know who he is or what he necessarily wants. His plan to rob the bank is indicative of the maniacal scheming he will use to torment Gotham throughout the course of the story. We realize that this is a formidable antagonist.
Scene #2 Batman Tracks Down Crane
Protagonist Batman
Desire Stop crime
Antagonist Crane and his hooligans
TP Batman crashes onto the car top
Value Justice
Role Introduction of protagonist, Gotham Inciting Incident: Batman arrives to save the city, but Gotham is unsure of him
Analysis We are introduced to the Batman: dark, intimidating and turning the tide against crime. And we are introduced to Gotham City, which itself serves as a character in the narrative, a being who seeks hope against the scourge of crime, but is highly malleable.
Scene #3 Batman and Gordon Talk
Protagonist Batman
Desire Convene a strategy
Antagonist Indecision
TP They decide to focus on crime and not the Joker.
Value Justice
Role Show alliance between Gordon and Batman. Gordon’s Inciting Incident occurs offscreen and sets him on his course: Protect his family and by extension, Gotham.
Analysis We are introduced to the relationship between Gordon and Batman. They are allies, trusting and dedicated. They also get their first glimpse of the Joker, whom they brush off.
Scene #4 Bruce and Alfred
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Come up with plan to save Gotham with Alfred
Antagonist Mob presence
Value Justice
Role Alfred Inciting Incident occurs offscreen: Alfred pledges to take care of Bruce after his parents are murdered
Analysis We see how Alfred cares for Bruce as he tends to his wounds and how they work together towards a common goal. Alfred worries about Bruce the man, rather than Batman the superhero. The separation between the two is something only Alfred understands and Bruce’s fragility will be tested.
Scene #5 Harvey In Court
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Take down Maroni
Antagonist Maroni
TP Harvey survives assassination attempt
Value Justice
Role Introduce Harvey- strong, committed to justice, going after crime, pompous. Rachel Inciting Incident Offscreen: Harvey proposes to her, setting up her choice between Bruce or Harvey.
Analysis We are introduced to Harvey and Rachel. Harvey is cocksure and dedicated, perhaps too much. We identify this as a character flaw even though we’re attracted to it.
Scene #6 Gordon and Harvey Meet
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Establish trust
Antagonist Distrust
TP Gordon gives Harvey names of the banks
Value Trust
Role Saving Gotham Inciting Incident: Crime in Gotham is terrible and Batman/Harvey/Gordon need to stop it. Harvey Inciting Incident: Harvey decides to take on the mob through their money.
Analysis Harvey and Gordon are wary of each other, not sure if they can trust one another. Harvey’s history at internal affairs shows that he is not the shiny posterboy he portrays himself as. A small bit of trust between them opens the door, but their unease will define their relationship.
Scene #7 Bruce and Lucius
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Get a new suit
Value Friendship
Role Lucius Inciting Incident takes place offscreen: Spurred by respect for Bruce’s father, Lucius commits himself to helping Bruce.
Analysis We are introduced to the relationship between Bruce and Lucius, one of the few other ally relationships Bruce has. Lucius serves more as a moral compass than compassionate mentor, helping Bruce realize the consequences of his reach.
Scene #8 Dinner Out
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Feel out Harvey
Antagonist Harvey
TP Bruce decides to throw Harvey a fundraiser.
Value Trust
Role Saving Gotham Plot: Recruiting an ally in Harvey
Analysis We are introduced to the love triangle between Bruce, Rachel and Harvey as well as the Batman and Harvey’s roles as dual knights for Gotham. Even though Harvey doesn’t realize it, Bruce is recruiting him to join his alliance with Gordon to save the city.
Scene #9 Mob Meeting
Protagonist Joker
Desire Make a deal with the mob
Antagonist Mob bosses
TP Gamble puts a bounty on the Joker’s head
Value Power
Role Joker starts his plan to take Gotham
Analysis We again see the Joker manipulating the system to his advantage. The mob bosses, desperate to stop the Batman as well as Gordon and Harvey, acquiese to his lunacy, not understanding the depths of their own actions.
Scene #10 Batman, Gordon and Harvey
Protagonist Harvey/Bruce/Gordon
Desire Figure out plan to take out mob
Antagonist Mob
TP Batman agrees to bring back Lao
Value Justice
Role The trio attempts to gain the upper hand.
Analysis The trio moves to figure out their next move after their plan to steal the mob’s money goes awry. Trust needs to be built up between them in order for them to take down the mob.
Scene #11 Bruce Plans
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Get ready for Lao take down
Antagonist Logistics
TP Batman boards plane to Hong Kong
Value Justice
Role Saving Gotham: Planning for Lao’s capture
Analysis With the backing of Gordon and Harvey, Bruce plans to bring in Lao using Lucius and Alfred’s help.
Scene #12 Joker Kills Gamble
Protagonist Joker
Desire Eliminate Gamble threat
Antagonist Gamble
TP Joker Kills Gamble
Value Power
Role Joker consolidating power and backstory
Analysis We again see how the Joker manages to acquire power and use his wits and insanity to his advantage.
Scene #13 Lucius Sets Up Bruce
Protagonist Lucius
Desire Set Up Lao
Antagonist Lao
TP Lucius leaves the compound having set up Bruce’s trap.
Value Justice
Role Set Up Bruce’s takedown
Analysis Lucius, in his devotion to Bruce, helps set the Batman up for his mission.
Scene #14 Lao Captured
Protagonist Batman
Desire Capture Lao
Antagonist Lao and Security
TP Batman absconds with Lao
Value Justice
Role Batman enacts plan to take down the mob
Analysis We see the Batman using his upmost skill to bring in Lao and take out those around him.
Scene #15 Lao Cuts a Deal
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Bring down the mob
Antagonist Lao and Mob
TP Lao agrees to give up clients
Value Justice
Role Saving Gotham and Gotham’s Soul Act One Climax: The city believes in Harvey and Batman.
Analysis The fruits of the trio’s efforst comes to a head as Lao gives up the mob and brings Gotham closer to peace.
Scene #16 Harvey Meets with the Mayor
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Put into plan effort to clean streets
Antagonist Gotham
TP Dead Batman shows up
Value Justice
Role Harvey Act One Climax: Harvey becomes the face of hope in Gotham.
Analysis The importance of Harvey to the cause is emphasized. He’s the hero Gotham needs for the mob to be put away for good.
Scene #17 Joker Demands Batman Identity
Protagonist Joker
Desire Set demands
Antagonist The Trio
TP Joker states demand
Value Chaos
Role Joker Act One Climax: Joker puts plan for Gotham into motion
Analysis The Joker makes his first move against the trio, targeting Batman’s identity as a crux to break their spirit. His terror stands in sharp contrast to the good that the trio is trying to accomplish.
Scene #18 Joker Strikes
Protagonist Joker
Desire Cause havok
Antagonist Trio
TP Batman refuses to reveal his identity
Value Chaos
Role Joker putting his first dent into society. Rachel Act One Climax: It’s revealed that Harvey has proposed to her, and Bruce still cares for her.
Analysis The Joker and Batman confront each other for the first time and are able to size each other up. The Joker’s plan to destroy the spirit of Gotham has begun as the deaths of officials pile up and public confidence falls. Harvey also pressures Rachel to decide on his marriage proposal, setting up Rachel’s internal conundrum: Harvey or Bruce?
Scene #19 Harvey Stands Firm
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Keep prosecution going
Antagonist The Joker’s actions
TP Harvey shows up at the precinct, unafraid
Value Justice
Role Show Harvey’s commitment to the plan
Analysis Given the chance to flee, Harvey instead doubles down on the plan to take down the mob. This shows his dedication but also his foolhardiness. His hubris will end up as his undoing.
Scene #20 Bruce Examines the Joker
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Unravel the mystery of the Joker
Antagonist Joker
TP Bruce realizes that the Joker can’t be reasoned with
Value Justice
Role Show depths of Bruce’s enemy
Analysis Hero and villain examine each other and see themselves in full light. For Bruce, this is a nemesis he has never encountered before; devoid of humanity and thriving on chaos. This deepens the stakes for him.
Scene #21 A Murder Scene
Protagonist Batman
Desire Find the Joker
Antagonist Gotham
TP They discover the Joker’s next target is the mayor.
Value Justice
Role Batman on the hunt
Analysis We see the first glimpses of Gotham cracking under the pressure of the Joker’s antics. Gordon and Bruce are snapping as the Joker kills and threatens.
Scene #22 Bruce’s Experiment
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Find the Joker
Antagonist Joker
TP Bruce finds the thumbprint
Value Justice
Role Bruce on the trail of the Joker
Analysis Bruce uses his resources to find out the Joker’s hideout, getting a bit of his mojo back and thinking he has the Joker once again on the ropes.
Scene #23 Lucius and Reese
Protagonist Lucius
Desire Protect Bruce’s identity
Antagonist Reese
TP Lucius calls Reese’s bluff
Value Morality
Role Introduce subplot
Analysis Lucius, in his desire to protect Bruce, manipulates an employee to keep Batman’s identity a secret. His devotion to Bruce is an example of his strong character, a factor which will influence their relationship at the film’s end.
Scene #24 Assassination Attempt
Protagonist Joker
Desire Kill the mayor
Antagonist Triumvirate
TP Gordon saves the Mayor
Value Chaos
Role Joker instills chaos into the peace
Analysis The Joker again causes chaos and panic as he nearly kill the mayor and shoots Gordon. The pressure gets to Bruce and Harvey as they each choose drastic actions to find the Joker.
Scene #25 Gordon’s Dead
Protagonist Batman
Desire Mourn and show respect
Value Justice
Role The strain on Bruce grows immense. Gordon Act One Climax: Gordon appears dead, driving them to despair.
Analysis Bruce’s strain is immense. He believes he has lost his friend as a result of their plan and orphaned his family. The stakes grow deeper.
Scene #26 Batman Questions Maroni
Protagonist Batman
Desire Find the Joker
Antagonist Maroni, Joker
TP Batman realizes Joker will keep killing
Value Justice
Role Batman comes to the realization he must turn himself in to save Gotham
Analysis Bruce’s anger drives him towards harsher and harsher actions. He brakes a man’s ankle, beats up an entire nightclub and pushes against the mob with all of his force. His strict moral code is beginning to bend as the pressures build.
Scene #27 Harvey Questions Lackey
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Find the Joker
Antagonist Lackey, Joker
TP Batman tells him he’ll turn himself in
Value Justice
Role Bruce makes his decision and Harvey starts to give in to the dark side
Analysis Harvey’s boundaries, just like Bruce’s, are being tested, and he is pushing himself closer and closer to being a villain. As Bruce decides to take responsibilities for his viligante actions, Harvey is stuck struggling against his anger, a sign of what will transform in him throughout the story.
Scene #28 Rachel and Bruce
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Connect with Rachel
Antagonist Feelings for Harvey
TP Rachel commits to Bruce
Value Love
Role Deeper love triangle
Analysis Rachel’s internal conflict comes to a head as she must choose between Bruce and Harvey.
Scene #29 Alfred Talks with Bruce
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Reason through choice
Antagonist Pressures to turn himself in
TP Bruce admits he can’t handle the deaths
Value Justice
Role Bruce facing the music
Analysis Bruce talks with his mentor, Alfred, to gain perspective on his choice to turn himself in. Alfred pressuring him to continue as Batman suggests that Bruce is failing at distinguishing between Batman and himself, Bruce’s inadequacies reflecting upon his alter ego. This results in Bruce turning away from his adventure, rejecting his call to adventure.
Scene #30 Harvey Turns Himself In
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Protect Gotham
Antagonist Chaos, Gotham
TP Harvey voluntarily admits to being Batman
Value Justice
Role Harvey Midpoint: Harvey takes the fall for Batman.
Analysis Harvey understands the importance of Batman for Gotham’s soul and voluntarily turns himself in instead of Bruce. His sacrifice again shows his recklessness, but also the importance of Batman as a symbol, in a way, overriding his own importance as a symbol.
Scene #31 Rachel Makes Her Choice
Protagonist Rachel
Desire Choose man
Antagonist Fears of future
TP Rachel leaves letter with Alfred
Value Love
Role Rachel makes choice
Analysis Rachel chooses between Harvey and Bruce, but keeps her choice to herself. Harvey’s sacrifice and Bruce’s acceptance of Harvey’s sacrifice lead her choice.
Scene #32 Harvey Transported
Protagonist Joker
Desire Kill Harvey
Antagonist Batman and police
TP Gordon emerges alive and arrests Joker
Value Justice
Role Saving Gotham Midpoint: Peace is saved for Gotham again.
Analysis Through sheer will and luck, the trio is able to trick the Joker and arrest him. For the moment, it seems as though Gotham is saved.
Scene #33 Gordon Returns Home
Protagonist Gordon
Desire Reunite with family
Antagonist Fears
TP Wife accepts him
Value Love
Role Gordon Act Two Climax: Gordon returns home to save his family
Analysis Gordon’s devotion to his family is representative of Gotham. Their ability to hope mirrors Gotham’s.
Scene #34 Interrogation
Protagonist Batman and Gordon
Desire Find Harvey
Antagonist Joker
TP Joker admits his plan and tells them where they are
Value Justice and love
Role Sets deeper emotional stakes for characters
Analysis Batman and Joker are face-to-face, their conversation mirroring the main themes of the story: the role of heroism, belief in people’s inner goodness and moral codes. This scene unifies everything that came before it and sets the stage for everything that will come after. Batman realizes what Joker is and Joker sets the stakes for the rest of the story, a battle that will ultimately resolve the soul of Gotham.
Scene #35 The Explosions
Protagonist Batman
Desire Save Rachel and Harvey
Antagonist Joker’s plan
TP Rachel is killed and Harvey scarred
Value Love and justice
Role Harvey Act Two Climax: Harvey loses everything.
Analysis The Joker exacts a terrible price as Rachel dies and Harvey is scarred. This turn of events will test both Harvey and Bruce, revealing their inner core identities and changing them in profound ways.
Scene #36 Joker Breaks Out
Protagonist Joker
Desire Escape
Antagonist Cops
TP Joker detonates bomb and escapes
Value Chaos
Role Joker Act Two Climax: Joker unleashed in the city again
Analysis The Joker’s maniacal deliberations have paid off as his plan to destroy Gotham’s peace seems to be working. Chaos reigns as the trio and their city lose hope.
Scene #37 Bruce and Harvey Mourn
Protagonist Bruce, Harvey and Alfred
Desire Reconcile loss
Antagonist Emotional loss
TP Alfred doesn’t let Bruce know about letter
Value Love
Role Turning point for characters to change. Rachel Act Two Climax: Rachel chose Harvey, but her death destroys him.
Analysis Both of Gotham’s knights, Harvey and Batman, have radically different reactions to the death of the woman they loved. Bruce is remorseful, needing Alfred’s encouragement to feel justification. Harvey is angry and vengeful. These reactions will define them for the rest of the story as both characters are changed and will transform, Bruce turning back into the guise of Batman for escape, Harvey changing into the villainous Two-Face. Alfred’s love of Bruce is tested as he worries the truth will destroy him.
Scene #38 Gordon and Harvey
Protagonist Gordon
Desire Find out who he can trust
Antagonist Harvey’s depression
TP Harvey condemns himself
Value Trust
Role The old Harvey is gone
Analysis Harvey’s depression and anger becomes evident to Gordon as he realizes that Harvey has lost the inner fight against the Joker. The scene reflects Gordon and Harvey first meeting, but with a drastic switch in tone, from Harvey full of hope to full of despair, Gordon a lens through which the audience can witness the change.
Scene #39 Joker Burns the Cash
Protagonist Joker
Desire Take over the city
Antagonist Mob bosses
TP Joker takes the mob might for himself
Value Power
Role Joker takes control of the mob and has the city in his grasp
Analysis The Joker officially takes control of the mob and sets fire to their wealth. For him, money isn’t important, but his end goal is: chaos. This further illustrates the Joker’s character as beyond reason, more a force of nature than a person. He is a storm about to sweep over Gotham.
Scene #40 Hospital Fight
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Save Mr. Reese
Antagonist Gotham City
TP Bruce throws his car into the lane and saves Mr. Reese
Value Peace
Role Batman and Gordon fighting back against Joker’s take over
Analysis Bruce must now make his choice after he loses Rachel: to continue the fight against the Joker or retreat into depression. He chooses to continue to fight, even saving a man who would have revealed his identity. Gotham now is at the mercy of the Joker, lurching into chaos. Without Harvey to guide the city, madness reigns as citizens try to kill Reese to save themselves. Bruce and Gordon struggle against a raging tide of madness and only their conviction can save the peace they made.
Scene #41 Joker Converts Harvey
Protagonist Joker
Desire Turn Harvey insane
Antagonist Harvey
TP Harvey becomes Two-Face
Value Justice
Role Harvey Act Three Climax: Harvey loses his internal fight and becomes Two-Face.
Analysis Much as Bruce must choose his path after Rachel’s death, Harvey must as well. He is transformed by the Joker’s madness into a new being, Two-Face, a merging of philosophies, from Batman’s, Joker’s and his own, dependent entirely on chance. The duality of the storyline overwhelms poor Harvey. Good and evil, fate and chance, white knight and dark knight, and the choice Bruce made that resulted in Rachel’s death all reflect this newfound madness in Harvey’s soul. Not only have his fears and anger been revealed throughout the course of the narrative, these forces have changed him and now Gordon and Batman must confront what the Joker has created.
Scene #42 Joker Claims the City is His
Protagonist Joker
Desire Take over the city
Antagonist Gotham
TP Gotham falls into chaos
Value Chaos
Role Joker moves to take the city
Analysis With Harvey gone and the city shaken to its core, Gotham is now in the grip of the Joker. His methodology has transformed the city just as it had transformed Harvey. Now it must choose in the final act whether it will believe in the good that the trio had previously sought or the chaos that the Joker instills.
Scene #43 Lucius takes the Mapping Technology
Protagonist Batman
Desire Stop the Joker
Antagonist Lucius and morality
TP Lucius agrees to take the technology
Value Justice
Role Lucius Act One Climax: Lucius directs Bruce to the right moral path. Saving Gotham Act Two: Bruce realizes he can’t break his moral code to stop the Joker and goes to stop him.
Analysis As Lucius has served as Bruce’s moral compass and ally throughout the story, the pressures of saving Gotham have pushed Bruce towards new and dangerous technology. The new mapping system that tracks everyone in Gotham is an affront that Lucius can’t fathom. Lucius helps Bruce realize that evil can seep into him as well and turn him into someone like the Joker if his power becomes too omnipresent. For Bruce, he must realize his limits, much as Alfred warned him about in the film’s opening, and his moral code. It is the only thing keeping him from turning just as Harvey has done.
Scene #44 Harvey Kills Maroni
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Kill Maroni and find the others who betrayed him
Antagonist Maroni
TP Harvey learns that Ramirez betrayed him
Value Justice
Role Harvey has turned to the bad side
Analysis Harvey’s turn into Two-Face is complete as he murders those he considers responsible for Rachel’s murder.
Scene #45 The Boats Choose
Protagonist Gotham
Desire Save itself
Antagonist Joker
TP The boats choose not to detonate
Value Chaos
Role Gotham Act Two Climax: Gotham chooses the good path
Analysis The battle for Gotham’s soul comes to a head as the Joker presents two boats with a choice: explode the other or both die. After much soul-searching, neither boat chooses to sacrifice the other to save themselves, believing in the trio’s ideology rather than the chaos of the Joker. This mirrors Bruce and Harvey’s choice after the death of Rachel with Bruce succeeding and Harvey falling to darkness. This concludes Gotham’s storyline.
Scene #46 Batman Defeats the Joker
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Stop the Joker
Antagonist Joker
TP Batman Defeats the Joker
Value Justice
Role Joker Act Three Climax: Batman affirms his commitment without breaking his code
Analysis Bruce is given the opportunity to break his code and kill the Joker in an act of revenge. He chooses instead to save him. Bruce’s ethics are unbreakable, despite the Joker’s best intentions. Bruce’s arc ends as Gotham agrees with him and rejects the Joker, for the time being.
Scene #47 Harvey, Gordon and Batman are Shattered
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Achieve revenge
Antagonist Gordon and Batman
TP Batman stops Harvey
Value Justice
Role Harvey Act Four Climax: Harvey is killed. Gordon Act Three Climax: Batman saves Gordon’s family from Harvey.
Analysis The toll of the Joker on the trio is evident. Harvey has gone insane and threatened Gordon’s family. Gordon is wracked with fear over his family’s safety. Bruce is still reeling from the loss of Rachel and the physical toll of his fight with the Joker. Compared to the Inciting Incident, the course of the story has strained all of them. The transformation of Harvey is heart-breaking, the hope of Gotham extinguished in front of Gordon and Bruce’s eyes. In order to save Gordon’s family, Bruce must break his oath and has to kill Harvey. The weight of that choice will be more evident in the next film, but the act itself, as defined over the course of the story, is gut-wrenching for Bruce. The final act of the Joker, will it result in Gotham’s breaking?
Scene #48 Batman Rides Off
Protagonist Batman
Desire Save Gotham
Antagonist Harvey’s actions
TP Batman chooses to take the fall
Value Chaos
Role Batman realizes his role. Alfred Act One Climax: Alfred protects the truth from Bruce.
Analysis The final definition of heroism is defined as Batman takes the fall for Harvey’s crimes. With Gotham’s belief in good in the balance, Harvey remains the city’s white knight, a symbol of hope that will endure long past his death. Batman, however, will take the burden as its villain for the time being, understanding that he can now take the abuse. This stands in contrast to his earlier willingness to turn himself in to stop the Joker. Over the course of the story, he has realized his strength and that Batman truly has no limits. With that, “The Dark Knight” ends.


“The Dark Knight” is an enthralling story of symbolism, heroism and justice. Framed as a sort of quasi-Michael Mann/Godfather movie of crime and corruption, the film smartly utilizes the city of Gotham as a living character in the story and the fight of good and evil is a battle over its soul. Will the city fall into law and order paradigmed by the trio of Harvey Dent, Commissioner Gordon and Batman or the corruption and chaos harnessed by the Joker? This elevates the film beyond a simple bad guy versus good guy storyline where the villain will blow up the city because of reasons. The Joker is a force of nature whose motivations and history are a mystery, creating a terrifying portrait of a psycho whose ability to cause chaos is impressive throughout the story. His wickedness is a stark challenge to the trio of heroes, each of whom reacts differently to the trials put on them by the Joker. The trio in many ways is similar to the triumvirate of Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus of ancient Rome. Caesar is even referenced in the film by Harvey Dent as one of the ways heroes die and villains survive in the public mind. And just like the breaking of the triumvirate in ancient times, the pressures of the Joker destroy the trio of Gotham. One bends but doesn’t break (the Batman), one hides to protect his family (Gordon) and one transforms into a villain under the pressure. Harvey and Batman are in many ways two sides of the same coin (a reference to Two-Face); one is Gotham’s white knight and the other its Dark Knight. But what Gotham sees is not truth, only symbolism. Harvey, in death, is a stronger symbol for Gotham’s hope than the truth even though he ended up a villain. Batman is seen as a villain because he survives, but he is actually the hero of the story. It is an interesting story arc that transcends the genre.

The film is also an interesting portrait of the post-9/11 mentality. As society deals with the madness of terrorist attacks that venture beyond morality and reason, our response to these perpetrators reveals a core aspect of us: committed to justice or a need to turn to a totalitarian society. This is typified by Bruce and Lucius’ relationship. Lucius serves as Bruce’s Jimminy Cricket in a way, reminding him of the value of a strict moral code to survive such chaos.

Where the script falls short somewhat is the Rachel and Gordon storylines. Rachel is not given a fair enough due as a character and her choice of Bruce or Harvey is superficial compared to the weight of the rest of the story. In addition, Gordon’s role with his family could have been expanded upon with some scenes of his life at home, his relationship with his wife and more information about why he fights. Perhaps his son defends Batman at school and his wife is worried about safety in the city but Gordon promises her that things are going to get better, just wait and see.

Otherwise, the script is a deep, thrilling tale of heroism imbued with modernist and classical themes. The characters are interesting and the arcs make the film a classic of not just superhero film, but modern filmmaking.


Batman Begins Analysis

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan

Cast: Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine

Synopsis: Bruce Wayne, reeling after the murder of his parents, learns the tools necessary to become the Batman.

Protagonist: Bruce Wayne

Desire: Save Gotham and prevent more crimes like the ones that took his parents

  • Inciting Incident: Bruce’s parents are murdered in front of him.
  • Act One Climax: Bruce decides not to become a criminal and journeys to the Far East to learn how to control his fear.
  • Midpoint: Having trained with Ra’s al-Ghul, Bruce becomes the Batman and takes down the crime lord Falcone.
  • Act Two Climax: The League of Shadows burns down Wayne Manor and leaves Bruce for dead. He overcomes this loss to try and save Gotham.
  • Act Three Climax: Bruce defeats Ra’s al-Ghul and creates the image of the Batman.

Other Storylines:

Alfred Pennyworth

Desire: Protect Bruce

  • Inciting Incident: Bruce’s parents are murdered and he must take care of Bruce.
  • Act One Climax: Alfred agrees to Bruce’s plan to become the Batman.
  • Act Two Climax: Alfred saves Bruce from the fire and lets him know he’ll never give up on him.

Ra’s al-Ghul

Desire: Destroy Gotham

  • Inciting Incident: Ducard’s wife is taken from him and he embarks on the journey to rid the world of crime.
  • Act One Climax: Ducard takes in Bruce and works to complete his training.
  • Midpoint: Bruce betrays the League and burns down their headquarters.
  • Act Two Climax: Ducard reveals himself as Ra’s al-Ghul and brings the League together again and works to destroy Gotham with fear gas.
  • Act Three Climax: Bruce as Batman defeats Ra’s.

James Gordon

Desire: Save Gotham

  • Inciting Incident: A cloaked figure approaches Gordon and lets him know his plan to restore order to Gotham.
  • Act One Climax: Gordon teams up with Batman to save Rachel from Crane.
  • Act Two Climax: Gordon teams up with Batman again to save the city from Ra’s.
  • Act Three Climax: Batman and Gordon are allies and Gordon creates the Bat signal.

Rachel Dawes

Desire: Help Gotham and Bruce

  • Inciting Incident: Bruce’s parents are murdered and she sees injustice in the world. She tries to be a friend to Bruce, but he is going through trauma.
  • Act One Climax: Working as an Assistant DA, Rachel works to put criminals in prison. Crane stands in her way.
  • Act Two Climax: Rachel prosecutes crime lord Falcone until he goes insane.
  • Act Three Climax: Rachel helps Gotham during Ra’s attack. Rachel talks with Bruce about his identity as Batman and how the city needs him.

Wayne Enterprises

Desire: Bruce and Lucius look to retake control of the company.

  • Inciting Incident: After the Waynes’ death, Earle takes control of the company.
  • Act One Climax: Earle decides to take the company public and declare Bruce Wayne dead to free up his shares. He moves Lucius Fox, loyal to the Waynes, to a dead end department.
  • Act Two Climax: After Bruce returns and befriends Fox, Earle takes the company public and fires Lucius, looking to take total control over the industry.
  • Act Three Climax: Unbeknownst to Earle, Bruce has bought most of the shares of the company and has installed Lucius as its CEO, pushing Earle out.

Jonathan Crane

Desire: Cause fear

  • Inciting Incident: Unknown- Presumably a traumatic past that leaves him reveling in the fears of others
  • Act One Climax: Crane accepts a business proposition from the League of Shadows to smuggle drugs into the city and contaminate the water supply.
  • Act Two Climax: Crane poisons Falcone.
  • Act Three Climax: Batman poisons Crane with his own fear gas and drives him insane.

Carmine Falcone

Desire: Control crime in Gotham

  • Inciting Incident: Unknown- It drives Falcone to control Gotham through fear and intimidation
  • Act One Climax: Falcone moves to assassinate Rachel Dawes and bring in the last drug shipment.
  • Act Two Climax: Falcone is beaten by Batman and left for the police.
  • Act Three Climax: Falcone is poisoned by Jonathan Crane.


Gotham as the Legacy of Thomas Wayne and Bruce Needing to Inherit It

  • Gotham is shown as a thriving metropolis under Thomas Wayne’s tutelage in Bruce’s youth. When Thomas dies, the city dies with him, tying itself in to the Wayne legacy. By accepting Gotham and his father as one cause, Bruce saves both by becoming the Batman.

Fear as a Tool

  • Bruce’s journey is to conquer fear. The fear of the bats in the cave haunts him and comes to represent fear that keeps him beholden in life. Only by conquering fear and learning how it controls him can Bruce hope to flourish after his parent’s death. What Bruce ultimately fears is taking his father’s place and becoming Gotham’s savior. By taking that place and utilizing fear to inflict fear in others to save Gotham, Bruce becomes a master of fear and achieves his destiny.

The Value of Life

  • To Ra’s al-Ghul and the League of Shadows, life has become wasted in Gotham and should end. To Batman and his moral conscience, Rachel Dawes, life need not end but be redeemed. This conundrum between the ultimate purpose of life, to save it or end it, presents an intriguing theme of life’s purpose. Humanity in Gotham is often circumspect. Evil exists and permeates into everyone lives. The desire to save it, exemplified in the film’s heroes, illustrates that mankind at its core is good and worth fighting for.

Scene Breakdown:

  1. Bruce Falls in the Pit
    • A field of bats morphs into a young Bruce Wayne running through the woods after his friend, Rachel. They play finders-keepers with an arrowhead found in the garden. Bruce falls down a well and is attacked by a swarm of bats. Modern-day Bruce awakens after the nightmare of his past. He is in a far-eastern prison.
      • Bruce is presented as the picture of innocence: a kid in a big mansion, rich, playing. This will contrast against the journey he is about to undertake.
      • The arrowhead is a representation of the warrior. By taking it, Bruce symbolically ushers himself into the realm of adolescence and the process of growing up, similar to an Indian initiation. This is further emphasized by his falling down a well, hurling himself into an unknown world, a terrifying world that he initially fears.
    • There’s a slight pause before the rush of bats, this new world leering at Bruce for a moment, the anticipation building in the audience. The bats are terrifying, more a rush of fury than singular beasts. It is not really the bats themselves that terrify Bruce, but what they represent; fear itself and the process of maturation Bruce must undergo as we all must.
  2. Bruce Fights a Horde
    • Bruce is in a Far Eastern jail for an unknown reason. A confidant tells him that a group will attack him and try to kill him. Against six men, Bruce fends them off and is put in solitary confinement.
      • The viewer is kept in mystery about what has happened to Bruce. How has this rich kid ended up in this far away prison with nothing? The mystery keeps us interested as the story is set up.
      • The scene shows Bruce’s strength and his loss. He stands up to an angry horde, beating them off, showing his fighting ability against a seemingly stronger opponent. At the same time, we sense he is rash and fighting without cause. He does not fight for honor or even to survive. He dubs the main fighter “practice.” He is fighting because he can, but even he doesn’t know why.
  3. Bruce Meets Ducard
    • In solitary, Bruce meets a strange man named Ducard. He offers him the chance to join the League of Shadows and find a higher purpose.
      • Ducard sticks out from the mucky surroundings of the prison in his pristine suit and articulate goatee. He represents the apex of fulfillment while Bruce huddles in the mud, dirty and low. Ducard standing over Bruce further shows how much Bruce has fallen morally.
      • Ducard articulates what the audience suspects: Bruce is lost. He fights anything, he has no purpose and he is hiding from the world. Why we still don’t know. The question further keeps us engaged as we wonder how a rich, young, naive boy has ended up in this hell hole.
      • Ducard first articulates what Bruce will become: a legend. He offers him an opportunity to climb out of his wandering and fill his life with purpose. In mythological terms, he is the herald, inviting a young protege towards the fulfillment of an adventure. He will also serve as the mentor and the shadow in Bruce’s journey.
  4. Bruce Climbs the Mountain
    • Bruce climbs the mountain to Ra’s al-Ghul’s fortress, delivering the blue flower Ducard told him to. Ducard tells Bruce that to manipulate the fears of others he must first master his own. He challenges Bruce to combat and Ducard wins easily. Ducard asks Bruce what he actually fears.
      • Bruce passes huge mountains and icebergs as he climbs up to the fortress. The expanse shows the remoteness of Bruce’s location. Symbolically, he is delving deeper into his own subconscious, climbing into his very soul to discover his fear.
      • The temple Bruce enters is a foreign world. He does not belong in it yet.
      • Ducard’s challenge illustrates how far Bruce has to go to become the symbol he wants to become. Bruce has not purged his fear and therefore can not fight against others. This scene is a mirror to the finale of the film. While Bruce fails here, he will succeed in the end.
      • Ducard Act One Climax: Ducard takes in Bruce to purge him of his fear. (Ducard’s Inciting Incident will be revealed later).
  5. Young Bruce Recovers
    • Thomas Wayne rescues his son from the pit he fell into. Bruce has nightmares of bats, but his dad helps him recover. They take the family’s shiny new monorail into the city.
      • Young Bruce has been traumatized by the bat experience. He has felt true fear for the first time, and it is this fear that will drive the rest of his journey. His father becomes his support system, someone he can confide in and who helps him deal with his fear.
      • We see the power of the Wayne family. They are rich, they live in a mansion, they have a butler. We also see their generosity and love. Thomas buys his wife a necklace. He is a doctor. The family invests in public transportation. It serves as an inspiration to Bruce. This generosity and power will intimidate Bruce later on and drive his fear that he is unworthy to take his father’s place.
      • The wealth and power of the Waynes is strong, represented in the family manor, the bright Wayne tower and the new metro train. Once Bruce’s journey changes, these symbols change as well. As Bruce’s soul turns dark, these structures change with him.
  6. The Opera and the Shooting
    • The opera the family goes to features bats, scaring Bruce. He asks if they can go and Thomas acquiesces. Outside, Thomas and Martha are shot and killed by a mugger.
      • Bruce’s inherent fear still drives his actions. Despite the coddling of his father, he is still a scared little boy. His fear leads him to leave the opera and in so doing causes him tremendous guilt when his decision ultimately results in a chain of events that leave his parents dead.
      • The mystique of the opera and the Wayne life are counterbalanced by the decrepit street the Waynes walk out to. This is the world Bruce must overcome, one of muck and vile. The mugger is disheveled and unkempt, a symbol of that vile percolating around Bruce’s life. The location is a further extension of the bats that Bruce has encountered. The alley is even framed as the first bat encounter in the cave, with the two alley streets matching the walls of the cave and the mugger coming out where the bats had been.
      • Bruce Inciting Incident: Bruce’s parents are murdered, leaving him an orphan and in search of a path. He must learn how to conquer the fear inflicted upon him.
  7. Young Bruce Meets Gordon
    • At the police station, Officer Gordon offers Bruce comfort and puts his father’s coat on his shoulders. The police commissioner comes in to tell Bruce that the mugger was arrested.
      • This is the first time we meet James Gordon. He is kind to young Bruce in a way that reveals he understands what he’s going through. His journey will begin later.
      • The act of putting his father’s coat on Bruce’s shoulder symbolizes how young Bruce must become a man now, a man like his father. He is so small in an adult’s coat, showing how much he has to grow to become someone like his father.
  8. The Wayne Funeral
    • Bruce attends his parent’s funeral. Earle, a businessman, tells Bruce that he will be watching over his financial empire. Bruce cries with Alfred.
      • The funeral, fittingly, takes place in the rain. It is obvious what that represents.
      • There’s a shot of Bruce waving good-bye to Rachel from his bedroom window. He appears very small against the huge backdrop of Wayne Manor, again symbolizing how much he has to grow to fill his family’s legacy. His distance from Rachel, his moral compass, also shows how much he has to grow still.
      • Alfred at this moment also becomes Bruce’s surrogate parent. The divide between master and servant melts as Bruce rushes forward to hug Alfred in his despair and Alfred comforts him as a parent would.
      • We are also introduced to Earle. He seeks to use Wayne Enterprises to make a lot of money, disregarding the humanitarian vision of Thomas Wayne. The death of the Waynes set him on his desire.
      • Rachel Inciting Incident: Spurred by the crime of the Wayne’s death, Rachel decides to fight crime through the law.
      • Wayne Enterprises Inciting Incident (Off-Screen): Earle decides to change Wayne Enterprises to make money.
      • Alfred Inciting Incident: Alfred must now care for young Bruce.
  9. Bruce’s Training
    • Ducard trains Bruce in the ninja arts. He also reveals a bit of the League of Shadows philosophy: crime can not be tolerated, theatricality is a valuable tool, pushing yourself to the brink is necessary. Ducard tells Bruce that it is his father’s fault for the shooting and that supreme will is the most important thing. Ducard still beats Bruce in combat.
      • The trials of Bruce test his determination. The philosophy of the will to act is drilled into him; only through choosing to act and never wavering from that commitment can Bruce achieve anything. This lesson is his key to becoming the Batman.
      • Ducard laying the blame at Thomas Waynes’ feet is more of a driver of Bruce than the truth. Ducard is testing Bruce again and again, through holding his balance over logs, to swordfighting, always pushing him and testing the will he preaches. Bruce is still behind, unable to catch up to Ducard’s mastery, a child on the ice, slipping and sliding, unable to keep his balance and walk upright.
  10. Ducard Talks about the Past
    • Ducard talks to Bruce about his past. He once had a wife who was taken from him. Vengeance was able to quell his anger.
      • We see more of the nurturing side of Ducard. He cares for Bruce as he tells him how to recover from falling through the ice. He is presented as another father figure to him, someone Bruce looks to for guidance.
      • Ducard’s Inciting Incident is explained here. Off screen, the story of his wife’s death is what drives him. Learning how to deal with his anger and gaining vengeance and teaching others in the same way is his motivation.
      • Ducard Inciting Incident (Off-Screen): Ducard’s wife is murdered. He kills her killer, achieving vengeance and now teaches others how to deal with their pains.
  11. Lost Bruce
    • We flash back to young Bruce, returning home from Princeton to attend the mugger’s parole hearing. He espouses his anger to Alfred, telling him he wishes he could burn the whole mansion down. Alfred refuses to give up on him.
      • We see Bruce lost. Princeton doesn’t want him back. He’s angry, his parent’s death leaving him rudderless. Not the physical specimen at film’s opening, he is more of a whiner, a coward unable to see past his own demons. When Alfred offers to prepare the master bedroom, Bruce refuses. He still can not take his father’s place in the world.
      • The mansion is a mausoleum, the furniture cover in drapes. This shows that Bruce his turned his back on the Wayne name. It rots away.
      • Alfred’s devotion to Bruce exemplifies his character. Even though he is not physically a member of the Wayne family, he serves as the caretaker of the estate and a symbol of the Wayne’s legacy. His devotion to the Waynes sets his path to protect and look after Bruce.
  12. Rachel and Bruce
    • Rachel looks over his parent’s things, including a picture of them and his father’s stethoscope. He packs a gun into his pocket. He talks with Rachel about the past and how her boss has instituted a deal for the mugger, Joe Chill’s, release in exchange for information about a crime boss, Carmine Falcone. He is against the decision.
      • Bruce remarks himself how his parent’s belongings are relics. They serve as reminders of a past he is trying to hide. A small flashback to the past shows a young Bruce using his father’s stethoscope to listen to his heart. In a way, Thomas’ heart, his soul, still echoes to Bruce, showing that Bruce can still live up to his father’s legacy. It lives in him.
      • Rachel and Bruce are older now, farther apart. Rachel has her head on her shoulders, working in the District Attorney’s office, trying to do good in the world. Bruce is lost and petulant, planning murder. Her moral compass will become Bruce’s guide as the story progresses.
  13. The Trial and the Aftermath
    • Bruce watches Joe Chill’s court appearance and sees him set free. He waits in the hallway, a gun in his hand, ready to kill his parent’s killer. A woman hired by Falcone instead shoots and kills Chill before Bruce can. Rachel escorts him away.
      • Bruce’s anger is directed right at Chill. His eyes never leave him in the courtroom. Chill himself can not bring himself to look at Bruce, his murder obviously haunting him.
      • There’s a steady buildup to Chill’s murder. Bruce is obviously struggling with the decision to take a life, but his anger drives him. Just as Ducard will later warn him about, if Bruce had murdered Chill, his anger would have destroyed him.
  14. Rachel and Bruce in the Car
    • Bruce tells Rachel that he believes vengeance is justice, but Rachel reminds him that justice is about balance. She tells him that the crime lord, Falcone, is destroying everything his parents held dear and is creating the exact conditions that created muggers like Joe Chill. She drops him off at Falcone’s house, telling him that if he wants to thank him for killing Chill, he can. Bruce reveals that he was going to kill Chill and is not one of Rachel’s good people. Rachel slaps him and tells him his father would be ashamed of him. Bruce hurls his gun into the river.
      • Rachel here also serves as the herald in mythical fashion. She points out the poverty and the crime permeating in the city that his father tried to save and in so doing, pleads for his help. Bruce’s eyes are therefore awoken to the desire to do good, but he is so wrapped in anger and disillusionment that he can’t see his part to play yet. Only after conquering fear can he succeed.
      • Rachel presents Bruce with a choice: to be a good man like his father or to let life bring him down. Bruce, thinking about how the gun he holds would lead him down a similar path to Joe Chill, throws it away and decides to change. His hatred changes from hating one man to an entire system of crime and corruption.
  15. Bruce Meets Falcone
    • Bruce threatens Falcone, who taunts him. He says that he uses the power of fear to have control. He tells him that he’ll never understand the criminal underworld because he is rich and has never tasted desperation.
      • Bruce’s transformed anger directs him to Gotham’s underworld. He realizes that this is a world he doesn’t understand and if he can’t understand what made Joe Chill, how could he beat it?
      • Falcone is a shadow. He uses fear in much the same way that Batman will need to. Bruce is powerless against Falcone’s hitmen and thugs, dragged away and punched. For him to succeed in changing Gotham and becoming something his father would be proud of, he must embark on a spiritual journey.
      • Falcone Inciting Incident (Off-Screen): Unknown, but it sets him on the desire to control Gotham.
      • Bruce Act One Climax: Bruce casts off the identity of Bruce Wayne and embarks on the journey to end crime in Gotham.
  16. Bruce’s Test
    • Ducard tells Bruce that what he actually fears is himself and his power to do great or terrible things. He tests him by having Bruce breathe in the smoke of his exotic flower, causing his fears to come to life. Ducard challenges Bruce to catch him in a moving array of ninjas, his fears washing over him.
      • Ducard teaches Bruce the power of fear, using it against him and teaching him how to harness it. This is the same tool that Falcone uses to instill power of Gotham. Bruce learns its value through his trial with Ducard. Through ingenuity and courage, he is able to overcome.
  17. Bruce Reject the League of Shadows
    • Ra’s al-Ghul tells Bruce that to complete his training, he must prove his commitment to justice by executing a fugitive. Bruce refuses. He learns the League intends to destroy Gotham to preserve the dignity of mankind. Bruce breaks out, burning the League headquarters down. He saves his friend, Ducard.
      • Bruce being handed a sword to execute a man is akin to him loading a gun to execute his parent’s murderer. The same cowardly act of injustice stirs in him Rachel’s condemnation. He realizes that he has adopted her worldview and must adapt it to his training rather than let the League’s principles change him.
      • Upon learning of the League’s plans, Bruce chooses to act. He has chosen to save Gotham, utilizing his training with the League and his moral cleansing. His first action: to stop the League from destroying Gotham.
      • Ducard Midpoint: Ducard’s prime student, Bruce, turns against him and destroys the League’s base of operations. Ducard must regroup to complete his mission.
  18. Bruce and Alfred Talk
    • Bruce meets Alfred for the first time after 7 years. He relays his plan to help Gotham, to create a symbol that transcends flesh and blood. Alfred acquiesces to his plan and lets him know that Earle is working to transform the Wayne company for himself.
      • Bruce continues to implement the lessons he has learned in his fight to save Gotham. Both Ducard and his discussion with Falcone taught him the vulnerability of human life and the need to create something elemental to enact change. Bruce has taken this lesson to heart.
      • The relationship between Bruce and Alfred remains strong. Alfred’s desire to keep Bruce safe has permeated throughout the years and gives him the motivation to help Bruce with his plan.
      • The storyline around Wayne Enterprises continues as Earle moves to take full control of the company by declaring Bruce dead and taking the company public, something Thomas Wayne would not have done and something that will taint the Wayne legacy. We will also learn later that Earle has removed his prime competition, Lucius Fox, from the board to expedite the process.
      • Alfred Act One Climax: Alfred agrees to help Bruce enact his plan to save Gotham.
      • Earle Act One Climax: Earle forces Lucius out, declares Bruce dead and moves to make the company public.
  19. Crane Introduction
    • Dr. Crane testifies to get another of Falcone’s thugs put in his asylum. Rachel tries to call him on his apparent attachment to Falcone’s men, but he threatens her. Rachel’s boss, Mr. Finch, tells her to lay off because Falcone is too strong. Bruce listens in.
      • Rachel is still fighting the good fight against Falcone through the courts, but Falcone seems only to have grown in power since Bruce left. He apparently has a new ally in Dr. Crane. Something seems a bit off about him, but the viewer can’t quite figure out what. He is shown in strict headshots pretty much, isolating him, showing how distant he is from the world around him.
      • This scene catches the viewer up to the situation in Gotham. Falcone is in charge, he is using this Dr. Crane to keep his thugs in an asylum instead of prison and Rachel is still fighting him against tough odds. We see the situation through Bruce’s eyes. We learn as he learns.
      • Crane Inciting Incident (Off-Screen): Crane is attracted to torture and madness and fascinated with creating fear. We don’t know why, but something has set him off on his desire to torture others for his own amusement.
      • Rachel Act One Climax: Rachel commits to saving Gotham by fighting the mob.
  20. Bruce Rediscovers the Bat
    • Bruce finds a bat in his house. He returns to the cave of his youth that frightened him so much. Bats swarm him, but he is no longer afraid.
      • Bruce returns to the same fears of his youth, but he has changed. Under the guidance to control his fears from Ducard, when the bats swarm around him, he embraces them, showing the conquering of his fear. He will harness the bats to achieve the liberation of Gotham, turning his fear into strength.
  21. Crane and Falcone
    • Crane and Falcone discuss business. Falcone is bringing drug shipments into the city. Crane’s boss is coming to Gotham. Crane asks Falcone to take care of Rachel.
      • This scene illuminates several important plot points. Crane and Falcone are working together, but Crane works for someone, someone even Falcone fears, and he’s coming to the city. And Crane wants Rachel dead because she is interfering too much. We also get a hint at Crane’s character. He pretends to be a straight-shooter, but Falcone can see that he gets off on being evil.
      • Crane Act One Climax: Crane enlists Falcone to take Rachel out to keep his operation running.
      • Falcone Act One Climax: Falcone moves to keep control of the city.
  22. Bruce and the Family Business
    • Mr. Earle talks about taking the company public. Bruce crashes the meeting and talks with him about his shares. Earle introduces him to Fox.
      • We begin to see Bruce take on his new persona: dumb, obnoxious, womanizing billionaire. This is the shield he will use to deflect any suspicions that he is Batman.
      • Earle moves to change Wayne Enterprises. He is condescending to Bruce and doesn’t view him as much of a threat. Bruce is already manipulating him.
      • Wayne Enterprises Act One Climax: Earle moves to take control of the company once and for all.
  23. Bruce Meets Lucius
    • Lucius Fox introduces Bruce to technology that he could use to turn into the Batman. Lucius agrees not to tell anyone.
      • The viewer can begin to see how the pieces of Batman are put together. Lucius and Bruce’s partnership will bear fruit as the story continues.
  24. Bruce Builds the Cave
    • Bruce sets up lights and navigates the tunnels of the cave under the mansion. He puts together parts of his suits and orders new pieces.
      • The viewer can see how the Batman mythos they are aware of begins to form. They recognize pieces of the character and how Bruce finds them and their importance to his overall scheme.
  25. Gordon and Flass
    • Gordon works with his partner, Flass. He doesn’t take the mob’s money. Bruce disguises himself and talks to Gordon. He learns what he needs to take down Falcone. Gordon tries to catch Bruce, but he runs away.
      • Gordon is an honest cop. He doesn’t take the mob’s money and looks down on those who do. He continues to fight against crime and corruption in Gotham, but is disheartened.
      • Bruce recruits Gordon in his fight against crime. Gordon doesn’t trust this masked vigilante, but seems nevertheless intrigued.
      • Gordon Inciting Incident: Gordon’s meeting with this strange cloaked man alerts him that something is coming to Gotham that could change things.
  26. Bruce and Lucius Continue
    • Lucius introduces Bruce to memory cloth and the Tumbler, further building his arsenal.
      • This scene doesn’t change much about Lucius and Bruce’s relationship, but it shows the continued trust between them.
  27. Flass and Falcone
    • Falcone gives instructions to Flass about the last drug shipment and the ordered murder of Rachel.
      • The viewer now knows that Flass is working directly with Falcone. This takes the level of corruption in the city to a new level.
  28. Bruce Finishes the Final Touches on Becoming the Batman
    • Bruce finishes creating his mask and his wings and various other parts of his costume.
      • Bruce finishes creating his “symbol” for Gotham. His explanation to Alfred underlies how this is a journey long in the making.
  29. Batman Attacks the Drug Point
    • Bruce takes the mantle of Batman and attacks the drug point, beating the criminals and Falcone, leaving him to the police.
      • We can see everything Bruce has built up to this point come to fruition. All the tools of Fox, the training of Ducard and the inner moral compass of Rachel combine to create this new symbol of Batman.
      • Batman is seen less as a man and more as a force of nature. The camera highlights his ferocity and mysteriousness, and we see the Batman from the perspective of the criminals rather than Bruce. This enables us to see what Bruce has created to others.
      • Falcone Act Two Climax: Falcone is beaten and left for the police by Batman.
  30. Batman Saves Rachel
    • Two “muggers” try to kill Rachel. Batman stops them and gives her the evidence to convict Falcone. Gordon arrives at the docks and finds Falcone delivered to him.
      • Bruce’s plan for taking back Gotham begins. He has announced himself as the Batman, delivering a significant blow against organized crime in the city.
      • Bruce Midpoint: Bruce creates the Batman and delivers Falcone to the police.
  31. Fall-Out
    • Police commissioner Loeb condemns the actions of the Batman. Rachel and her boss work to prosecute Falcone.
      • The effects of Bruce’s actions reverberate across the city, testing the loyalties of characters. Gordon and Rachel must figure out how they deal with a vigilante working outside the law.
      • Rachel Act Two Climax: Rachel works with the DA to prosecute Falcone.
  32. Bruce and Alfred Come Up with Alibis
    • Alfred remarks that Bruce needs to come up with a persona to hide the possibility that he is Batman. Bruce agrees, as long as he doesn’t have to learn polo.
      • Bruce being covered in bruises shows that there is a cost to his crime-fighting. As much as he appeared as a force of nature during the night, he is still very much a man.
  33. Wayne Enterprises Loses the Microwave Emitter
    • An employee to Earle announces that a prototype microwave emitter weapon has been stolen.
      • This is purely an informational scene. All we know is that a weapon has been stolen that will pay off later.
  34. Bruce’s Persona
    • Bruce acts like a pompous billionaire playboy in front of the Wayne higher-ups to deter from his true self. He dallies with beautiful women and buys things that don’t belong to him, all part of Alfred’s suggestion. He meets Rachel and tells her that there is more to him, but Rachel tells him that it’s not who you are underneath but what you do that defines you.
      • Rachel again presents herself as Bruce’s moral compass. His last connection to his childhood, she sees his inner soul in a way no one else seems able to. In a way, she is reminding him not to lose his sense of rightness.
  35. Crane Poisons Falcone
    • Falcone, trying to get put into Crane’s asylum, feigns insanity. To keep him quiet, Crane poisons him with a form of fear serum. Falcone goes insane.
      • The viewer gets a closer look into Crane’s psychology. He is calculating and vicious. He seems to enjoy torturing Falcone and driving him mad, dressing up in theatrics, setting up the situation. For Falcone, his journey is over. Crane has destroyed his mind and therefore his journey.
      • Crane Act Two Climax: Crane poisons Falcone and secures his boss’ wishes.
      • Falcone Act Three Climax: Falcone is driven insane by Crane’s poison.
  36. Batman and Gordon
    • Batman talks with Gordon about the drug shipments. Gordon tells Batman that Flass may know where the other half of the drug shipment went. Gordon lets on that he is trusting Batman more, but has reservations.
      • Gordon starts to trust Batman more now that he knows he is trying to help. With all the corruption around Gordon, he is willing to give a man dressed as a bat a chance to change things.
  37. Batman Interrogates Flass
    • Batman scares Flass into revealing the location of the drugs.
      • The viewer sees again how Bruce uses fear and intimidation to get into the heads of others. Flass rolls over without much push.
  38. The DA is Killed
    • Rachel’s boss is shot dead when he discovers the missing Wayne Enterprises weapon in Gotham.
  39. Batman is Poisoned by the Fear Gas
    • Batman discovers the location of the drugs. Crane is there and poisons Batman with the fear gas. Batman collapses and must be rescued by Alfred.
      • There’s an interesting interaction between Batman and a little boy who sees him on the side of the drug building. In a way, Batman is still young Bruce, fighting to keep his fears away. This appeals to the young boy who sees the same struggle in him.
      • All of Bruce’s fears come rushing back to him when Crane’s toxin hits him: bats, responsibility, the death of his parents. This is a reminder to Bruce that his fears still ultimately drive him. In a way, he is afraid of fear itself and is fighting to keep fear from finding him.
  40. Alfred Tends to Bruce
    • Bruce wakes up from the effects of the toxin. Lucius explains to him what happened and that he has devised an antidote.
      • Bruce appears weak and frail from the effects of the drug, again showing that Batman underneath is still just a man. The viewer can begin to connect the dots into what is happening: who does Crane work for? What is the purpose of the weapon from Wayne Enterprises doing in Gotham? What is this fear toxin?
  41. Bruce and Rachel Reconnect
    • Rachel drops off a birthday present to Bruce: the old arrowhead from their youth. She tells him that her boss is probably dead and that Crane has put Falcone on suicide watch. She rushes to Arkham. Bruce, as Batman, chases after her.
      • The arrowhead represents lost youth for both characters. They remember their past as friends, but are kept apart by their respective duties to the present. Each is fighting crime in their own way and as long as that occurs, they can not be together.
  42. Earle Fires Lucius
    • Earle fires Lucius after he asks too many questions about the missing microwave emitter.
      • The battle for control over Wayne Enterprises takes another turn. Earle has never liked Lucius, viewing him as a protege of Thomas Wayne, whose company he is trying to twist to his own means. The missing microwave emitter is a matter he is trying to hush to keep the company looking good despite the potential damage it could cause. Eliminating Fox gets him one step closer to securing the financial profit he seeks.
      • Wayne Enterprises Act Two Climax: Earle moves to take over the company by removing Lucius and going public.
  43. Crane Kidnaps Rachel
    • Rachel visits Falcone in the asylum and questions Crane’s methods. She witnesses cronies pouring drugs into the sewer system. Crane poisons her with the fear gas and she collapses. Batman and Gordon team up to save her.
      • The viewer knows what Crane is capable of and senses the danger as he goes after Rachel. This creates tension throughout the scene.
      • Crane Act Two Climax: Crane reveals that he is bringing drugs into the city and poisoning the water supply.
  44. Bruce Saves Rachel
    • Batman storms Arkham Asylum to save Rachel. He poisons Crane with his own fear serum and Crane tells him that he works for Ra’s al-Ghul. The police arrive and Bruce uses the cover of bats and the Tumbler to break out and take Rachel back to the Batcave.
      • We again see Bruce use the image of the Batman to instill fear into Gotham. The use of bats and theatrical deception serves him well against the criminals and the police. We again see the Batman through their eyes to see the full effect of Bruce’s scheme.
      • The tumbler’s power and resourcefulness is displayed. This is a setup to the payoff later on in the movie where Gordon must use it to blow up the train.
      • As Bruce rushes past the cells of the inmates at Arkham, one can’t help but wonder that perhaps Bruce himself belongs there. If the crazies think you’re crazy, that should tell you something.
      • Crane Act Three Climax: Crane’s fear gas is turned against him and he goes insane.
      • Gordon Act One Climax: Gordon’s team-up with Batman signals his readiness to take in the Dark Knight’s help.
  45. Batman Talks to Rachel
    • Batman tells Rachel about the drugs in the water supply and how he saved her. He tells her he doesn’t have the luxury of friends.
      • Bruce’s loneliness is illustrated in his distance from Rachel. His Batman cowl keeps them from truly connecting, a barrier between their relationship. When he takes off his cowl when she falls asleep, he appears vulnerable and distant from the camera, showing how he is utterly alone in his new role.
  46. Alfred Chastises Bruce
    • Alfred harshly reminds Bruce that he has to live up to the Wayne family name. Bruce tells him he doesn’t care about his name.
      • Alfred is afraid of losing Bruce to this vigilante he has created. Bruce replies that he doesn’t care about his vestige as a Wayne, echoing the conversation they had in Bruce’s youth. In a way, Bruce is using Batman to escape the mantle of his father. He still feels unworthy about wielding his father’s influence.
  47. The Party
    • Bruce’s birthday party begins. Earle comes to him and tells that with the company going public, the future is secured. Bruce meets Lucius. They figure out that the microwave emitter is going to be used to poison the city. Bruce discovers Ducard, now revealed to be Ra’s al-Ghul, at the party. He threatens him and everyone there. Bruce manages to make his guests leave. Ra’s knocks him and sets the mansion on fire.
      • The mystery is revealed as Ducard presents himself as Ra’s al-Ghul and unveils his plan to destroy Gotham. Bruce must now confront his mentor in order to save the city, but deeper than that, it is also a fight to save his vision of humanity. Is humanity a failed experiement that must be cleansed or is it a race that needs the just rule of law and a moral code to survive? Ra’s vision or Thomas Wayne’s/Rachel’s? Bruce must dig deep within himself to fight for the ideals instilled upon him through family and friends.
      • Ducard Act Two Climax: Ducard reveals his plan to destroy Gotham and sets it in motion.
  48. Alfred Saves Bruce
    • Arkham Asylum’s gates are opened by the League. Alfred rescues Bruce from the fire at the mansion and takes him to the Batcave. Bruce loses hope in himself, but Alfred inspires him to keep going.
      • Alfred takes his role as Bruce’s protector and comes to Bruce’s defense. He will never give up on Bruce.
      • The burning of the Wayne Mansion is hinted at in the beginning of the film. Bruce tells Alfred that he wishes he could burn the mansion down to forget about his past. Now that it is burned down, Bruce worries that he will lose all the remnants of his past. It is this final fear, a fear that Bruce has withheld, that brings Bruce acceptance: his fear of being a Wayne.
      • Alfred Act Two Climax: Alfred saves Bruce and lets him know he’ll never give up on him.
  49. The Final Battle
    • Rachel and Gordon team up in the Narrows as the inmates wreak havoc. Rachel finds the child from earlier and keeps him safe. Batman appears and teams up with Gordon, giving him the tumbler. Batman and Rachel share a moment where he lets her know his identity. Both Batman and Gordon rush and stop Ra’s from finishing his plan.
      • Bruce, reunited in combat with Ra’s, must overcome his failure to defeat him earlier in the story. Ra’s taunts Bruce, repeating that he shouldn’t be afraid, the last words spoken by his father. In a way, Bruce has two fathers, Thomas and Ra’s, one light and one dark, each trying to help him conquer his fear. By defeating Ra’s, Bruce conquers the dark, and by accepting his Wayne name, he embraces the light, becoming one.
      • There is an irony that to save Gotham, Bruce must destroy the monorail. In a way, to rebuild the Wayne legacy, Bruce must physically build back the physical structures that have been demolished: the mansion and the train.
      • Gordon Act Two Climax: Gordon and Batman team up to save the city.
      • Ducard Act Three Climax: Ducard dies as Batman stops him.
      • Bruce Act Three Climax: Bruce saves Gotham and establishes the image of the Batman.
  50. Lucius Reinstated
    • Bruce reveals that he has bought the public shares of Wayne Enterprises and is now once again the owner. Earle has been forced out and Lucius is now the head of the company.
      • With help from Bruce, Lucius retrieves his rightful status. His placement and his connection to Thomas Wayne represent Bruce taking back his family’s name and reputation.
      • Wayne Enterprises Act Three Climax: Bruce takes over the company, reinstates Lucius and forces Earle out.
  51. Bruce Rebuilds the Manor
    • Bruce meets Rachel and promises to rebuild the mansion. She tells him that they can be together once Batman is no longer needed, Bruce Wayne being a facade and Batman being the real person in her eyes. She is proud of him.
      • Bruce’s first act of rebuilding his mansion is sealing up the cave he fell into. This is Bruce healing the hurt that fear inflicted on him.
      • Rachel recognizing that Bruce Wayne is still missing hints that Bruce still has a journey yet to finish. Until Batman’s role in the world is over, they can not be together. As the sequels prove, this is a tragic storyline. However, for the moment, he has regained her trust, trust lost until he cleansed his fear.
      • Bruce finds the stethocope from earlier, remembering his father’s heartbeat. Burned in the wreckage, it may have sent the younger Bruce into a tailspin. But imbued with confidence, Bruce decides to rebuild the house and in essence, his father’s legacy, taking the mantle he had been afraid to embrace for so long.
      • Rachel Act Three Climax: Rachel recognizes Batman and hopes to see Bruce again.
  52. Bruce and Gordon Plan
    • Bruce and Gordon make their plans to bring Gotham back.
      • Gordon now fully trusts Batman, seeing the good he can bring to the city. They are now partners, giving hope not only just to Gordon, but to the whole city.
      • Gordon Act Three Climax: Gordon has hope in making good of the city again as he enlists the Bat signal and accepts Batman.

Overall Analysis:

“Batman Begins” is a terrific film that features a strong connection to the mythic structure of the hero’s journey. The characters are all detailed and necessary, each with interesting arcs that tie into the themes of justice, vengeance and fear. The character examination and journey of Bruce is deep and interesting. The duality of two father figures and their visions really gives the film a rich palette of ideas.

There are a few changes that could have produced a more unified story. Once Bruce completes his training in the League and returns to Gotham, the pace slows as there is not a great internal confrontation to drive Bruce. He has purged his fear and therefore has little left to prove to himself. The process of becoming Batman through the technology and such may be fun to watch, but is not emotionally engaging.

A ticking clock scenario would have proven useful in this instance, something driving Bruce to become the Batman with a deal of pressure. Perhaps the mob has ordered a hit out on the mayor or Bruce sees the young boy of the film abused by his father and needs to save him. In the sequels, this ticking clock scenario is used to great effect with the Joker and Bane’s plans driving the action. Without the League of Shadows storyline in the middle, there is a loss of tension and Bruce is not personally challenged as much. Crane is used somewhat as a challenge to Batman, but he lacks a connection with Bruce and their confrontations never escalate beyond simple hero vs. villain.

In addition, the character of Martha Wayne is given a relatively short stick. She doesn’t really even have a speaking role and her character could have been utilized more to drive Bruce’s anger.

The Earle storyline could have been trimmed somewhat as it is not that important to the overall story or fleshed out a bit more to make it more interesting.

Overall though, the film is a sterling example of what can be accomplished in the superhero genre. Bruce Wayne is a fully dimensional, emotional character that the audience greatly empathizes with, and the film’s themes of personal justice and overcoming fear are heavy and elemental, making the story very memorable and moving.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” Analysis

Director: Gore Verbinksi

Writers: Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, Jay Wolpert

Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush

Synopsis: A cursed pirate crew try to mend their woes while causing havoc, but their ex-captain, the son of one of their deceased crewmen and a wealthy heiress band together to stop them.

  • Special thanks to JoBlo Movie Clips

Protagonist: Will Turner

Desire: Elizabeth Swann

  • Inciting Incident: Elizabeth is kidnapped by Barbossa and his pirate crew.
  • Act One Climax: Will breaks Jack Sparrow out of prison in order to enlist his help to rescue Elizabeth.
  • Midpoint: Will leaves Jack behind and takes Elizabeth back from Barbossa.
  • Act Two Climax: Will acquiesces to Jack’s plan to break him out from Barbossa’s grasp and save them all.
  • Act Three Climax: Will tells Elizabeth he loves her.

Other Storylines:


Desire: The Black Pearl

  • Inciting Incident: (Off-Screen) Jack is abandoned on an island after Barbossa steals his ship.
  • Act One Climax: Jack uses Will as leverage to get his ship back.
  • Midpoint: Will betrays Jack and leaves him with Barbossa.
  • Act Two Climax: Jack devises a plan to save Will and defeat Barbossa.
  • Act Three Climax: Jack gets the Black Pearl back.


Desire: Break free from the societal shackles placed upon her

  • Inciting Incident: Norrington proposes to Elizabeth.
  • Act One Climax: Elizabeth negotiates with the pirates to save Port Royal.
  • Midpoint: Elizabeth saves Jack and her when they are abandoned on a remote island.
  • Act Two Climax: Elizabeth accepts Norrington’s proposal.
  • Act Three Climax: Elizabeth chooses Will over Norrington.


Desire: End the Curse

  • Inciting Incident: (Off-Screen) Barbossa and his crew steal cursed treasure and suffer the consequences.
  • Act Once Climax: The Black Pearl destroys Port Royal, kidnaps Elizabeth and captures the last missing piece.
  • Midpoint: Elizabeth is revealed to be the wrong person they need and the lose their hope.
  • Act Two Climax: Barbossa kidnaps Will and returns to the island to end the curse.
  • Act Three Climax: Jack shoots Barbossa as the curse ends.


Desire: Maintain the law and his place in society

  • Inciting Incident: Norrington decides to rid the world of pirates and secure his rank.
  • Act One Climax: After beating back most of the pirates of the Caribbean, he asks Elizabeth to marry him.
  • Act Two Climax: Elizabeth agrees to marry him in exchange for rescuing Will.
  • Act Three Climax: After Elizabeth turns him down for Will, he relents in order to do the right thing.

Jack’s Crew

Desire: Get their own ship

  • Inciting Incident: (Off-Screen) Jack enlists a crew.
  • Act One Climax: Jack promises a ship in exchange for their help.
  • Act Two Climax: The Interceptor is destroyed and the pirates are captured.
  • Act Three Climax: Elizabeth saves the crew and they take the Black Pearl without Jack.
  • Act Four Climax: The pirates return to save Jack at the gallows.


  • The Representation of Piracy: The definition of piracy is in flux throughout the film. At the beginning, under the harsh critique of Captain Norrington and Governor Swann, pirates are seen as vile creatures of evil. This is reinforced when the pirates of the Black Pearl attack Port Royal. However, as the audience gets to know Jack, a new form of pirate begins to emerge; the image of the pirate as a good man. Piracy then becomes a moniker for freedom while Barbossa and his crew instead are realized as monsters consumed by greed. Greed then is the ultimate evil.
  • Moral Fortitude Versus the Rule of Law and Order: Norrington and his world represent the harsh realities of law and order, unbending no matter the circumstances. Elizabeth’s world believes in strict social classes, propriety and set matches, represented by her stagnant proposal to Commodore Norrington. The pirates of the story soon reveal a world capable of love, courage and morality, oftentimes at odds with the world of law and order. These quandaries come to a head over the course of the story.

Scene Breakdown:

  1. Prologue on the Seas
    • Action: Young Elizabeth sails on her father’s ship with a full crew. She sings about pirates and remarks how fascinating it would be to meet one. She spots young Will Turner floating in the water and the crew brings him aboard. A ship lies decimated in flames nearby. Turner wears a pirates medallion on his neck, which Elizabeth takes to protect his identity.
      • This scene sets up Elizabeth’s character. She is the prim and proper daughter of a lord, yet she sings about pirates and is fascinated with danger, setting up her contradiction. She is pulled between both worlds, the world of respectability and the allure of piracy and adventure.
      • Norrington and Governor Swann are also established here. We learn that Norrington hates pirates and wants to see them eradicated. Swann just wants to keep his daughter safe. They represent the path Elizabeth is seemingly destined for; the security of father to future fiance.
      • Norrington Inciting Incident: Norrington desires to rid the seas of pirates and secure his ranking in the social hierarchy.
  2. Ceremony Morning in Port Royal
    • Adult Elizabeth wakes up in her room. She still has Will’s pirate medallion, drawn to it for some reason. Her father bursts in and gives her a new suffocating dress that he wants her to wear to Norrington’s promotion ceremony. Adult Will stops by to deliver the ceremony sword he crafted. He is stiff and awkward with Elizabeth, unable to call her by her first name and just addressing her as Miss Swann.
      • Now in the present, we can see how these characters are still very much in their shackles of propriety. Elizabeth is still pampered by her father who buys her dresses and pushes her towards a lifestyle of respectability without adventure. Though she yearns for a more exciting life, Elizabeth is very much a girl, unable to break through and become a woman. This is represented by the corset she wears, the binds of her life suffocating her.
      • Will has become part of this social world if still on the outside somewhat. He breaks an ornament in Swann’s entryway, showing that he doesn’t quite fit in with this facade, and he is suppressing his true self. He is down on the social hierarchy, unable to meet Elizabeth as his equal despite his feelings for her. Both he and Elizabeth are trapped in their roles, heiress and blacksmith, unable to break free.
      • Norrington and Elizabeth Inciting Incident: Norrington lets it be known through Governor Swann that he wants to marry her
  3. Jack’s Arrival
    • Jack Sparrow arrives in Port Royal. He bids respect to hanged pirates dangling at the opening of port. His boat sinks as he arrives and he pays the attendant to not record his name. He tries to commandeer a ship out of the harbor from a pair of bumbling guards.
      • Sparrow’s arrival establishes his character; he’s a pirate and he’s charismatic though he’s prone to bad luck and is a bit of an imbecile. His swagger makes him a sympathetic though not quite empathetic character.
      • This is also our first mention of the Black Pearl, setting up its appearance for later. Jack’s Inciting Incident, as we will learn later, has already taken place.
  4. Elizabeth Falls off the Ledge
    • Commodore Norrington proposes to Elizabeth who, suffocating in her dress, falls off the edge of the pier into the ocean below. The gold medallion still around Elizabeth’s neck sends a shock wave when it hits the ocean floor, alerting the Black Pearl to its whereabouts. Jack Sparrow jumps in and saves her, bringing her back to the surface. Norrington meets them on the pier and recognizes Jack as a pirate. Jack then takes Elizabeth hostage and bargains until he is able to run away.
      • Norrington’s proposal to Elizabeth is what she has dreaded. Her acceptance would mean her acquiescence to a life without adventure.
      • Jack’s good deed in saving Elizabeth shows that he is in fact not a villain, but in using Elizabeth to escape, he shows that he uses villainous deeds to achieve an end.
      • Elizabeth Inciting Incident: Norrington’s proposal presents her with the choice of choosing security or seeking adventure.
      • Norrington Act One Climax: Norrington’s proposal would secure his social ranking.
  5. Jack and Will Meet
    • Jack takes refuge in Will’s shop. They swordfight, and Jack is captured.
      • More of Will is examined here, pitted against Jack’s character. We learn that he is admirable because he stands up for Elizabeth’s honor. He is courageous as he doesn’t back down to Jack’s threats. His skill in swordfighting bodes well for the rest of the story. His desire to protect Elizabeth’s honor is a setup to the lengths he is willing to go for her.
  6. Elizabeth Thinks about the Proposal
    • Elizabeth and her maid discuss the day’s events. The maid voices what is on Elizabeth’s mind: she is in love with Will.
      • This scene reinforces what the audience already knows: Will and Elizabeth should be together, even if they don’t want to admit it to themselves. The fact that even the maid sees it is evidence enough. Her interaction with the maid also underscores her life: she is pampered and princess, a distinct social class above the commoner. She must overcome her naivete to survive in the plot to come.
  7. The Pearl Attacks
    • The Black Pearl appears in the harbor, launching a barrage of cannonballs. Will fights in the streets. Two pirates kidnap Elizabeth. Other pirates leave Jack Sparrow for dead.
      • The dramatics of the battle highlight the deadliness of the pirate crew. They are vicious, killing at will, laying waste to the town. Their appearance is ragged and coarse, animalistic almost. These are the evil pirates we were promised at the film’s opening.
      • The interaction between Jack and the pirates highlight a bit of his mysterious backstory. They know each other. How? Jack remarks with surprise that there is a curse when he sees the bone arm of one of them. What does that mean? These are all setups to later payoffs in the story. For now, they just intrigue the viewer and leave them with questions.
      • Will Inciting Incident: Elizabeth is captured
  8. Elizabeth Meets Barbossa
    • Elizabeth negotiates with Barbossa to leave Port Royal. Barbossa keeps her prisoner.
      • Our first interaction with Barbossa reveals several characteristics of his character. He’s smarter than you would think, using long words that match Elizabeth’s. He has the respect of his crew as they follow his rules to the letter. And he is also not a bloodthirsty animal as others would believe. He treats Elizabeth fairly even though he is under no obligation to do so. He keeps his word to cease the attack on the port. Barbossa’s Inciting Incident has occured off-screen and is revealed later.
      • Elizabeth Act One Climax: Elizabeth proves her hidden inner strength by negotiating with Barbossa to save the port.
      • Barbossa Act One Climax: Barbossa sets sail back to Isla de Muerta to cleanse his curse after capturing the final cold piece and the blood to be repaid.
  9. Will Gets Angry
    • Will wakes up the next morning after being concussed and confronts Norrington on how to rescue Elizabeth. He gets nowhere with him.
      • Will shows his first signs of anger as he worries about Elizabeth. His concern leads him to a risky proposition: asking Jack Sparrow for help. While Norrington tries to stay within the law, Will’s deference to go straight to piracy shows his inner pirate nature.
  10. Will Joins Forces with Jack Sparrow
    • Will bursts Jack out of prison in return for his help to hunt down the Black Pearl and save Elizabeth.
      • Jack remarks himself how Will seems to be gunning towards piracy despite Will’s denial. The audience senses that Jack is up to something behind his deal, instituting another setup with an eventual payoff.
      • Jack Act One Climax: Jack commits to his own secret plan to reclaim the Black Pearl.
  11. Will and Jack Steal a Ship
    • Will and Jack creatively steal the Interceptor out from under Norrington’s nose and set sail after the Black Pearl.
      • With a clear goal in mind, Sparrow ceases to be a bumbling dolt and instead shows his inner pirate savvy. What once appeared to be a doomed trek involving an out-of-his-prime pirate and a blacksmith suddenly seems like a decent proposition.
      • Will Act One Climax: Will commits to the adventure of rescuing Elizabeth and sets sail after her captors.
  12. Will Learns about his Father
    • Will reasons that Jack knew his father. Jack tells Will that his father was a pirate and a good man. Will, refusing to believe him, draws his sword, but Jack convinces him to keep on going.
      • The knowledge that Will’s father was a pirate gives him added purpose. He must not only rescue Elizabeth, but now prove that he is not a pirate even though he feels the pirate within him. Now confronted with the truth, he must grapple with both sides of himself for the rest of the narrative. Is Will a pirate, a good man or both?
  13. Tortuga
    • Will and Jack recruit Gibbs in the hopes of putting together a crew. Gibbs questions Jack about his motives and Jack reveals that he is going to leverage Will to get his ship back. Will overhears this.
      • Jack’s personality reveals itself again as the audience realizes he is just using Will as a means to an end. So while he indeed is not a villain, he is not a good Samaritan either. In terms of mythic symbols, Jack would be considered a trickster, always keeping you guessing as to his motivation.
      • We still don’t know Jack’s motivation for taking the Black Pearl, but his need for it points towards something beyond just desire and towards obsession. This is personal for him.
  14. Elizabeth Aboard the Black Pearl
    • Barbossa explains to Elizabeth the curse upon them. She doesn’t believe him until she sees the zombie bodies of the pirate crew. She hides in her room, terrified.
      • Barbossa again presents himself as a sympathetic villain. He offers Elizabeth a dress to wear at a fancy dinner. He isn’t cruel to her. All he wants is to end his suffering and eat apples, something very relatable. We also understand his inciting incident, presented off-screen.
      • This serves as wakeup to Elizabeth. All her pampering is useless to her when confronted with the undead. And she learns that the pirates are likely to kill her. She must emerge stronger after this encounter in order to survive.
      • This scene also raises the dramatic stakes for Will and Jack. With us knowing that the ship they now hope to confront is driven by unbeatable zombies, we fear for their failure.
      • Barbossa Inciting Incident Revealed: (Off-screen) Barbossa and his crew have been cursed by treasure and must collect the treasure to end it.
  15. Assembling the Crew
    • Gibbs presents his crew of misfits to Jack and Will. They are an unimpressive lot. A terrible storm them about as they take off after Barbossa, but Jack smiles knowing that they’re catching up.
      • The strange crew, after the previous scene of undead pirates, further illustrates the dire situation plaguing Jack and Will. How could this group of miscreants deal with the formidable Black Pearl pirates? Jack’s determination to push through the storm shows his growing obsession with getting the Pearl back.
      • This scene also introduces the last subplot: Jack’s pirate crew. They desire a ship to call their own.
      • Pirate Crew Inciting Incident: (Off-Screen) Jack promises a ship to Anna-Maria, but reneges on the deal.
      • Pirate Crew Act One Climax: Jack promises the crew a new, better ship.
  16. Jack’s Backstory
    • As the Interceptor approaches the Isla de Muerta, Gibbs tells Will that Jack was captain of the Black Pearl and divulges how he was mutinied against by Barbossa and left abandoned on an island. Jack and Will go ashore towards the Black Pearl.
      • Jack’s personal story reveals his reasons for going after the Black Pearl. Betrayed by his crew, he will stop at nothing to get his ship and reputation back. His personal stake is what drives him and is his off-screen inciting incident.
      • Jack Inciting Incident Revealed: (Off-Screen) Get the Black Pearl back after the mutiny.
  17. The Ordeal in the Cave
    • As Jack and Will approach the pirates, Jack remarks how close Will is to piracy now, especially with his obsession for treasure, namely Elizabeth. The pirates perform the ceremony to end their curse, but it doesn’t work as it’s not Elizabeth whose blood they need, but Will’s. Will knocks out Jack before he can bargain him over to Barbossa, and he secretly sneaks Elizabeth away when the pirates are busy infighting. Jack is taken capture by the pirates.
      • All the storylines converge here at the midpoint of the film. Will gets his desire for the time being in Elizabeth, Elizabeth is saved, Jack loses his ability to take back the Pearl and Barbossa’s hopes of being cured are dashed.
      • After this encounter, the means and motivations of all the main characters change. Jack must negotiate his way out of death, Will and Elizabeth have to escape and Barbossa must find another means of ending the curse. The course of the story has changed.
      • The midpoint is also the moment when the main character must examine his or herself. Will, confronted with ever mounting evidence that he is turning into a pirate more and more, chooses to leave Jack behind, perhaps fearful that staying with him will eventually lead to piracy, a form of destiny he dreads. At the conclusion of the film, when given another opportunity to leave Jack behind, he will evolve to do the right thing, having accepted his parentage.
      • Will Midpoint: Will saves Elizabeth, his goal, and now must keep her safe.
      • Elizabeth Midpoint: Elizabeth is safe and must keep herself safe.
      • Barbossa Midpoint: Barbossa must find another means of ending his curse.
      • Jack Midpoint: Jack’s original plan fails and he must now find another way to get the Pearl back.
  18. Jack Negotiates
    • Jack negotiates with Barbossa to spare his life in return for telling him the name of Bootstrap Bill’s child.
      • Jack, ever the resourceful pirate, finds a way to cheat death again. His ability to stay alive adds to his endearing qualities and makes him endlessly fascinating: the viewer will keep wondering, how will Jack get out of this one as the situations grow more and more dire for him?
  19. Will and Elizabeth
    • Will helps Elizabeth with her wound from Barbossa. She gives him the gold medallion she had kept from him. Will realizes that the pirates will come after him because he is Will Turner’s son. He is angry at his parentage.
      • This is the first time Will and Elizabeth are alone together without the confines of the stuffy societal world. They are free to act as they wish and have changed over the course of the story. They are more open with each other, and their actions towards each other influence their behavior. Will, having gone through his ordeal to get to her, knows in his heart that he wants her. Elizabeth, knowing more about the underbelly of the world and the journey Will must have gone through to rescue her, knows what he feels for her. They are close to intimate, but the truth of Will’s parentage stops him from having her. He feels tainted for being of pirates’ blood and unworthy to have her.
      • In order for Will to succeed and earn his desire (Elizabeth), he must now overcome his internal fears of being a pirate. Only by believing that pirates are capable of being good men can he see himself as a good man and worthy of her.
  20. Barbossa and Jack Negotiate
    • Jack bargains with Barbossa for Will’s name in exchange for the ship. Barbossa, however, has caught up to the Interceptor and is willing to try it alone for the time being.
      • During the scene, Jack eats one of Barbossa’s apples, infuriating the pirate as they try to one-up each other in negotiations. It’s an interesting dynamic of Jack using the one thing Barbossa is endlessly craving, the bite of an apple, to get under his opponent’s skin. But Jack, still having somewhat of a heart, tries to save Will and Elizabeth at a time when Barbossa’s bloodlust after the debacle with the treasure has grown. It proves his undoing.
  21. Sea Chase
    • The Interceptor and the Black Pearl square off. The Interceptor and its crew are captured.
      • The battle involves Will and Elizabeth using their cunning and intellect to try and outsmart Barbossa. With everything they have learned, they put up a good test, but fall short against a far superior foe. Hope appears lost for all.
      • Pirate Crew Act Two Climax: The crew are captured and the Interceptor destroyed.
  22. Will Survives
    • After seeming left for dead aboard the Interceptor, Will emerges alive and bargains with Barbossa for the lives of Elizabeth and the crew.
      • Will’s desire to save Elizabeth must again be rekindled as she and everyone else are again captured. Barbossa regains the upper hand, but Will negotiates the survival of everyone, though not quite to the effect he had hoped for. His fate is suddenly taken out of his hands.
      • Barbossa Act Two Climax: Barbossa now has the final piece and the blood he needs and sails back to end his curse.
  23. Jack and Elizabeth are Marooned
    • Jack and Elizabeth walk the plank and end up on a deserted island.
      • The characters are now all at rock bottom. Jack watches his ship sail off. Elizabeth loses Will and Barbossa has everything he wants. The characters must devise a way out of their situation to survive.
      • Will is now no longer leading the action as he is Barbossa’s prisoner. Jack has no means of escape. It is up to Elizabeth, who must prove her inner strength, to save the story.
  24. Jack and Elizabeth on the Island
    • Jack gets drunk on the island as Elizabeth devises a plan to gain the notice of the Royal Navy. Her huge fire gains the attention of a searching Norrington.
      • Jack reveals a bit more about himself to Elizabeth, and in effect, to the audience. We see that it’s not just revenge that drives him to take back the Black Pearl, it’s what the ship represents to him. It’s freedom away from the rules, something that Elizabeth can relate to.
      • Hope is restored as the pair are found. Elizabeth’s resourcefulness shows how she is growing over the course of the story.
      • Elizabeth Midpoint: Elizabeth again proves her ingenuity by rescuing her and Jack.
  25. Elizabeth Negotiates with Norrington
    • Hoping to save Will from the pirates, Elizabeth bargains with Norrington and has to agree to marry him in order for him to send out a search party for Will and Barbossa.
      • Knowing what Will did to save her, Elizabeth must now do the same for him. In effect, as he proved his love to her, she must reciprocate that love. However, the cost of saving Will dooms her to a life of safety without adventure. Though enacted out of love, it seems that nothing can stand up to the power of law and order.
      • Elizabeth Act Two Climax: Elizabeth’s decision to marry Norrington to save Will seemingly seals her decision to stay with the civilized world over her love of adventure.
      • Norrington Act Two Climax: Elizabeth’s agreement to marry him gives him what he wants.
  26. Will Learns about his Father
    • Will learns that Barbossa murdered his father when he tried to defend Jack.
      • Will is given extra motivation against Barbossa when he learns that Barbossa is responsible for his father’s death. Not only that, but hearing how his father defended Jack and tried to be a good man gives Will another perspective on piracy. As his interactions with Jack are beginning to show, perhaps being a pirate does not equate necessarily to evil.
  27. Jack Comes Up with a Plan
    • Jack negotiates with Norrington, getting a pontoon of his own to go and talk to the pirates.
      • Knowing Jack’s history of backdealing, the audience is anxious to see what Jack’s next move will be. We know he is adept at looking out for himself, so seeing how he maneuvers to get what he wants (the Pearl) while not compromising his conscience is fascinating.
      • Jack Act Two Climax: Jack sets in motion a plan that may give him the Pearl and save Will.
  28. Jack Manages his Final Plan
    • Jack gets Barbossa to spare will for the time being in exchange for knowledge about Norrington’s men.
      • There are subtle clues to Jack’s plan. He doesn’t fulfill what he told Norrington to his full extent, he takes a pirate coin without anyone knowing and he has Elizabeth locked up on her ship. This is the final play, what will determine whether the heroes succeed or fail. And his plan will finally answer the question of whether or not Jack is solely in it for himself or a team player.
      • Will is a passive player in his second act climax, but his silent agreement to go along with Jack’s plan locks in his decision.
      • Will Act Two Climax: Will trusts in Jack’s plan to beat Barbossa.
  29. The Battle Begins
    • The Royal Navy and pirates fight as Jack turns on Barbossa and frees Will.
      • We now realize that Jack has been on the side of good the whole time. He indeed has a good heart and is trying to save Will. With the final plan in place, it is now a do-or-die effort to defeat Barbossa and his crew.
  30. Elizabeth Saves the Crew
    • Elizabeth leaves her quarters and rescues the crew from the Black Pearl.
      • Elizabeth leaves her father as he preaches to her about her duties. This represents her officially leaving his dutiful side and trying to save Will herself, symbolically leaving her old life behind. She is no longer scared of the ghost pirates, throwing Jack the monkey overboard, showing her inner growth over the course of the story. She frees the crew and proves her worth as she has grown over the course of the film.
      • Pirate Crew Act Three Climax: The crew get the ship they’ve desired and leave Jack behind.
  31. Jack, Elizabeth and Will End the Curse and the Battle
    • Jack shoots Barbossa as Will drops the last coin in the treasure with his blood. Barbossa dies and the battle ends.
      • Barbossa’s journey ends in defeat. His only desire, to feel something, dies with him as he drops the apple he was going to eat. The script created a sympathetic villain with his character. He was relatable in his desire to feel simple pleasures and in how he was a man of honor. It adds greater depth to the story rather than him being a write-off villain.
      • Barbossa Act Three Climax: Barbossa dies short of his goal.
  32. Aftermath of the Battle
    • Even though the heroes seemingly have won, they have to now deal with the consequences of returning to the real world. They leave the world of piracy and freedom and return to society where Elizabeth must marry Norrington, Jack must be hanged and Will is a lowly blacksmith.
      • The experiences the characters have gone through have changed them to alter their destinies. Even though they are seemingly back to where they were before Barbossa’s arrival, their bonds give them the courage to change their futures.
  33. Will Saves Jack at the Gallos
    • Will tells Elizabeth he loves her before rushing off to save Jack at the gallows.
      • At the beginning of the story, Will was terrified of letting Elizabeth know his feeling towards her. She was part of the upper class of society and he was intimated by the disparity between them. He was fearful of presenting his feelings because he was unaware of his place in the world, between losing his mother and not knowing his father and feeling conflicted about his identity. Over the course of the story, he has learned of his father’s history and accepted his pirate ancestry. This acceptance gives him the courage to seek out what he has always wanted (Elizabeth) and to save Jack, a mentor of sorts who has taught him of acceptance.
      • Will Act Three Climax: Will professes his love to Elizabeth while standing up to law and order, accepting his place in the world, and completing his quest.
  34. Elizabeth Chooses Will
    • Will’s break out of Jack fails and it seems like both he and Jack will fall to Norrington until Elizabeth lets her feelings be known about Will. Norrington relents in his quest for Elizabeth and Jack escapes.
      • Elizabeth, gaining strength of her own over the course of the story, faces her decision: stay in the world of propriety or go with her heart. Having gained courage over the course of the story by fighting Barbossa and seeing the love Will has for her, she chooses to love Will and therefore completes her journey from frightened princess to independent lover.
      • Norrington’s journey ends here as well. When presented with Elizabeth’s choice of Will over him, he must then decide his own destiny: arrest Jack and Will and hurt Elizabeth beyond repair or let the criminals go free and compromise his ethics. Having seen how Will and Jack saved Elizabeth by going outside the law, he chooses to let Jack escape and to let Will love Elizabeth. His internal battle between morality and duty concludes with him turning a blind eye this one time.
      • Elizabeth Act Three Climax: Elizabeth, having proven her ability to stand up for herself across the length of the story, finally chooses the direction for the rest of her life.
      • Norrington Act Three Climax: Norrington chooses to bend his conscience for the greater good after being presented with pirates who are not evil.
  35. Jack Escapes to the Black Pearl
    • Jack’s crew returns to rescue Jack who sails off towards the horizon.
      • The final scene of the film gives Jack what he has long-sought: the Black Pearl. It is the loyalty of the crew that delivers him his goal and his journey is complete with them.
      • Jack Act Three Climax: Jack gets the Black Pearl back.
      • Pirate Crew Act Four Climax: The crew break their code and help Jack.


“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” is an exciting film that features some great performances, builds some solid characters and is a cut above the normal blockbuster fare. However, there are a few script changes that could have produced a stronger story.

The protagonist of Will is a little boring in comparison to the much more charismatic Jack and Barbossa and his internal struggle is pretty pedantic. His repulsion of his pirate heritage needed to be more explored in the film’s opening. Showing Barbossa and his crew and their evilness in the film’s beginning would scar Will and Elizabeth for life. Elizabeth would feel much more compelled to take Will’s medallion to keep him safe. Will would face a much stronger moral conundrum about breaking Jack out of prison and the audience would question Jack’s morals more throughout the course of the film.

Will’s storyline also needs him to be more active at the film’s conclusion. It is Elizabeth’s and Jack’s decisions that determine the outcome of the story. It should be Will’s plan, him being the protagonist, that saves the day and his ingenuity would prove his inner pirate nature, having learned from Jack, and confirm that being a pirate is not necessarily evil. And we are then missing that scene where Will decides to accept himself in between the end of the battle and his attempt to save Jack.

It would go something like this: Will watches Jack led away in shackles back to the prison at Port Royal. He sees Elizabeth courted away by Norrington. He is conflicted as he returns to the blacksmith shop and looks over the old place he calls home, a place he doesn’t feel he belongs in anymore. He wrestles with what to do and decides to send a message to Gibbs and hatches an escape plan. He accepts his piracy by donning his new outfit and goes to save Jack on the day of his hanging. This would firmly show Will’s change from lowly blacksmith to freewheeling pirate.

In addition, Elizabeth is often relegated to the sidelines and feels a bit underwritten. She joins in the action and shows some bravura, but her character is rather flat, and she is more representative of “feminine hero” rather than a fully fleshed out character.

The true stars of the film are Barbossa and Jack. They are engaging, iconic and serve as the true spirit of the film against the rather bland Will and Elizabeth. Their originality makes “Pirates” a memorable film.

In conclusion, “Pirates” is an above-average film that stands remembered for a few of its characters, well-managed action scenes and strong visuals.

Shaun of the Dead Scene Analysis

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.47.21 AMShot 1: The scene starts with a POV shot of the two characters, Shaun and Ed, looking into their backyard. The strange position of the female zombie, hunched over, small in frame, informs the viewer that something is amiss.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.47.24 AMShot 2: Nick and Ed stare at the girl, bemused, wondering who this strange girl is. The camera pans around them, similarly bemused.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.47.32 AMShot 3: The camera pans behind the back of the two men. They look at each other, each wondering what is going on. The repeated camera movement makes us feel like we are with them, looking at this strange woman as part of the group.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.47.50 AMShot 4: They mock her. Their lack of caring regarding the situation is funny because the audience knows that the girl is a zombie. Seeing them react with such uncaring attitudes hints at the surprise upcoming.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.47.54 AMShot 5: We are looking at the girl with them again, waiting…

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.47.55 AMShot 6: Nick picks up a rock and tosses it at her, hoping to get a reaction. After the buildup of the previous shots, now will we see that the characters realize that she is a zombie?

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.47.54 AMShot 7: The rock hits her in the back of the head, but still, nothing happens.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.01 AMShot 8: Still no reaction. This delay in reaction builds up the tension to the character’s discovery.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.03 AMShot 9: The zombie slowly turns around.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.05 AMShot 10: Shaun’s reaction is that of strange intrigue. Now he sees we believe.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.07 AMShot 11: Ed’s reaction is similarly tone-changing. We think they’ve realized what they’re dealing with. The close-up of both shots highlights their facial reactions more than the earlier two shots.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.10 AMShot 12: The woman continues turning. The slow turning, combined with the fast shots builds the anticipation continually.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.12 AMShot 13: Shaun and Ed see the girl.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.14 AMShot 14: Then we see the girl. We see the pale skin and the hollowness in her eyes. The camera moves in closer to her, setting the shot up as a reveal. Now, we reason that Shaun and Ed will realize they’re in trouble.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.18 AMShot 15: Shaun and Ed react with awe and shock. We reason with them about the zombie.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.20 AMShot 16: We cut back to the obvious zombie, now in a close-up, an obvious threat they have not realized yet.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.23 AMShot 17: Instead, Shaun remarks how drunk she is. This gap in their logic is humorous and delays that moment of true realization about the zombies.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.25 AMShot 18: We see the distance between the zombie and them, showing them not in danger yet, but the girl starts to move towards them.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.28 AMShot 19: Shaun and Ed continue to laugh as the zombie moves towards them. As the zombie closes the gap, we expect another moment of panic, of realization, as the danger moves closer and closer.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.30 AMShot 20: The zombie moves closer and closer. Just as the previous shots set up a reveal of the zombie only to have it be met with comedy, these shots again tease a moment of suspense as we wonder with her coming nearer what will happen. As an audience knowing the genre, we know they are in danger, and what the zombie will do, but with Shaun and Ed continuing to disbelieve their predicament, we don’t know what will happen next.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.33 AMShot 21: The camera is handheld, moving haltingly like a zombie, bringing us further into the action. The buildup continues as she moves closer.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.36 AMShot 22: The zombie leaps at Shaun to attack him, nearly right into camera, placing us as Shaun, showing us that now, the men will realize what’s going on.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.38 AMShot 23: Shaun screams at first and then laughs, holding her back. Ed laughs with him. They reason that the girl is coming on to him. This break from genre conventions again provides humor. Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.46 AMShot 24: Shaun begins to notice something strange with the odd behavior of the woman, but he coolly brushes that off along with the rest of the clues.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.47 AMShot 25: The camera tracks up and down as Shaun struggles with the woman and Ed disappears back into the house.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.49 AMShot 26: Another humorous outburst as Ed returns with a camera and snaps a photograph of the couple. This behavior contrary to horror and zombie film conventions continues to elicit laughs.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.50 AMShot 27: Shaun curses out at Ed and calls out for his help.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.53 AMShot 28: Ed pulls the woman off Shaun, amused but annoyed at her.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.54 AMShot 29: The zombie attempts to bite Ed. The quick cutting of the action keeps the momentum driving forward. By shots coming so fast, they are able to move seamlessly with the action.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.56 AMShot 30: Ed pushes the zombie away, calling her a name.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.58 AMShot 31: Shaun reacts with more angst regarding the girl, things changing, but not the degree that the two need to confront her.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.48.59 AMShot 32: Shaun notices her nametag and calls her out, trying to reason with her. The act of trying to reason with a zombie produces more comedy.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.00 AMShot 33: Shaun again tries to control the situation, handling things with any other person. The gap between them has grown, but the zombie quickly closes it once more, producing more anticipation for another confrontation.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.01 AMShot 34: She’s almost back, Shaun’s reasoning not working.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.02 AMShot 35: Shaun realizes that his reasoning is not working as the gap is being closed. He threatens her not to come any closer.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.04 AMShot 36: Shaun struggles with her once again, but not taking things as lightly as before, no longer amused but annoyed.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.21 AMShot 37: Shaun pushes her back and she stumbles.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.22 AMShot 38: The pair react with horror as the zombie falls on a pole, splitting her in the middle. As an audience we know what will happen next considering she is a zombie, but for Ed and Shaun we laugh with them thinking they’ve murdered someone. This is also the film’s first true instance of gore, creating the first blood and gore laugh.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.24 AMShot 39: A close up reaction of Ed and Shaun’s reaction, Shaun horrified, Ed more awe-inspired and thinking of its coolness, creating another laugh. This also illustrates both of their characters.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.27 AMShot 40: The zombie slowly starts to get back up, pulling the pole out of her stomach. The score highlights the zombie-ness of the whole exchange. The camera pans up with her to reveal…

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.45 AM…the hole in her stomach, with Ed and then Shaun’s faces in the middle. This shot signifies their transportation from the normal world to this new zombie world.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.46 AMShot 41: Shaun and Ed realize now that they are dealing with something seriously wrong in the world. The serious moment lasts just a second. Another moment of comedy ensues as Ed starts to rewind his camera, taken in by the whole thing until Shaun pushes it away.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.53 AMShot 42: The zombie closes the gap again, this time with Shaun and Ed realizing they are in danger.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.55 AMShot 43: Shaun and Ed start to turn around, back away from her as the camera pans to…

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.49.59 AM…another zombie lurking next to them, moving closer, blood dripping from its mouth.

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 9.50.01 AMShot 44: Shaun and Ed are now realizing that there is a major problem around them. No longer are they naive, but immersed in the world of zombies.

Conclusion: This scene serves to introduce the characters of Shaun and Ed to the zombie apocalypse happening around them, the inciting incident to the main plot of the film. By building up expectation to certain events, the film produces comedy by continually reversing expectations, playing up the naivete of its characters. Only when the characters are faced with the supernatural nature of their situation do they realize something is wrong.

The Verdict Analysis


Director: Sidney Lumet

Writer: David Mamet

Cast: Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden and James Mason

Synopsis: Frank Galvin, a once-renowned lawyer down on his luck, has one last client with which he can cash in. Instead, he wages a court battle against the Catholic Church of Boston for a last chance at redemption for his very soul.


Frank Galvin

Desire 1: To win the case of Deborah Ann Kaye

Desire 2: To redeem his soul

Forces of Antagonism: Alcoholism and fears of facing past demons, Laura and Concannon and Various Characters, the Church and the Law and the Medical Society and the Rich

Inciting Incident: Frank meets with Kevin and Sally Doneghy who present him with an easy case to make money.

Inciting Incident 2: Frank takes pictures of Deborah Ann Kaye, realizing that he can’t exploit her for his own gain and decides to fight for her.

Act One Climax: Frank refuses to take the Church’s offer.

Midpoint: Laura confronts Frank and tells him to stand up and be a man.

Act Two Climax: After being betrayed by Laura, Frank goes to court for one last stand.

Act Three Climax: Frank presents his renewed view of justice to the court and wins the case.


  1. Redemption: Frank is haunted by his past, full of betrayal and a loss of a sense of justice. Confronted with a chance to redeem himself, he faces down his own failure to redeem himself.
  2. A Battle of Social Classes: The film takes great pains to show a distinction of economic classes, the poor who are struggling to get by (the Doneghys, the nurses) and the rich who reap all the benefits of a rigged system (Concannon, the Church, famous doctors). The plight of the poor is reflected in Frank, who was once rich, but is now a poor outsider.
  3. Finding Justice: In such a flawed world, where the rich achieve success and institutions (the law, the church, medicine) have failed so many, finding justice is hard to see. Emphasized by Frank’s speech at the end of the film, justice is inside each of us, we just need to find it in (as Frank does).

Scene Breakdown:

  1. Frank (0:00-1:40): Character Exposition

Action: Frank Galvin, a harsh shadow blocking his face, plays pinball, drinking a beer, a street desolate behind him.

  • By not showing Frank’s face, only his actions are illuminated; the actions of a drunk. The bright and empty street behind him shows him just how alone he is in the world.


  1. Frank (1:41-5:06): Character Exposition

Action 1: Frank brushes himself up, visiting a widow, looking for easy insurance case money. He leaves immediately after making his case. He crosses off another funeral from his list.

Action 2: Frank goes to another funeral searching for cases. The son of the deceased kicks him out. Frank walks alone down the winter street.

  • Frank’s actions further illustrate the despair of his situation. His clothes, though professional, are worn and tattered, illustrating a man who once held high esteem but has fallen on hard times.
  • His constant unease with what he is doing is evident in Paul Newman’s acting, Newman fidgeting, always looking down at the ground.
  • Finally being thrown out, the harsh cold of winter illustrates his being trapped in despair.


  1. Frank (5:07-6:32): Character Exposition

Action 1: Frank tells funny stories at a bar to a bunch of drunks, the best dressed guy in the joint, buying everyone drinks.

Action 2: He trashes his office in a fit of drunken self-loathing, tearing his walls empty.

  • The series of shots are shot straight on or at a high angle, illustrating Frank’s meagerness with the luxury of his office seemingly greater than him.
  • By emptying the walls of his frames and degrees, he exposes his soul, bare and empty.


  1. Frank, Mickey (6:33-9:30): Introduction of Main Plot- Introduction of Secondary Ally Character

Inciting Incident for Mickey: Desire- Protect Frank

Action 1: Mickey picks him up off the ground, noticing the disarray of his office.

Action 2: He reminds him of the Deborah Ann Kaye case coming up in ten days. He gives him an ultimatum to get his act together and solve this case.

  • Despite the disarray, Mickey helping Frank up and his lack of surprise illustrate that this is not an uncommon occurrence and that Mickey cares for Frank by continually lifting him up.
  • The scene takes place as a two-shot, Mickey in the light, and Frank in the dark. An open window between them illustrates the distance between the emotional state of both characters.
  • When the action cuts to medium shots between the characters, the light is harsh on both of them, but Frank appears a mess, blood dripping off his eyebrow, unshaven and messy while Mickey is clean shaven, his coat buttoned. This further highlights the differences between the characters.


  1. Kaye Case (9:31-15:42): Further Development of Main Plot- Supporting Characters Introduced

Inciting Incident for Frank: Desire- Win case and reclaim esteem

Action 1: Refreshed, Frank gets ready for the case.

Action 2: He visits the hospital, looking over his client, strapped up to a ventilator, the only thing keeping her alive. He sees that obviously he has a case worth winning.

Action 3: Frank comes back to his office to find Sally Doneghy waiting for him. He awkwardly welcomes her inside. He explains the situation to her, just how winnable the case is.

Action 4: Sally starts telling Frank about her sister and her children and the tragic situation.

Action 5: Sally’s husband, Kevin, enters. They talk about the cost and the need to move on from the painful situation.

  • Frank is the only thing in black in the hospital, sticking out like a sore thumb, obviously not a part of this world. This is further accentuated when a patient asks him to move off his bed.
  • The conversation with Sally begins in cutaways, but moves into a two-shot, Sally pleading with Frank. This highlights how the case is becoming closer to Frank, a morality to it that he can’t escape from, drawing him in.
  • When Kevin enters the scene, he and Sally are shot together, but Frank moves to sitting on his desk away from them, drawing a line from the situation he had been morally drawn to.


  1. Church (15:43-17:10): Introduction of Antagonizing Force

Inciting Incident for Church: Desire- Clean up case

Action 1: A lawyer outlines the biography of Frank Galvin to the bishop. He explains that Frank can’t go to court for fear he will lose. The bishop explains he doesn’t want the case in court either and will make an offer to Frank personally. The lawyer confirms to the bishop that they would win in trial anyway.

  • The lawyer and the bishop are shot in tracking shots, illustrating that they are moving quickly as their dialogue suggests, always in motion, trying to solve their issues with expediency. This is in stark contrast to the slow moving Frank.
  • As the lawyer and the bishop move, they are far in the background, leaving the audience to just them by their cold words and not their faces. This makes them appear bureaucratic and not empathetic, showing how they view their own negligence as a business transaction and not a moral issue.


  1. Kaye Case (17:11-19:35): Gaining Ally for Main Plot and Learning Details

Action 1: Frank searches out Dr. Gruber. They talk as they walk. Dr. Gruber explains to Frank that the doctors are indeed responsible for her death. They discuss the deposition and agree to meet later.

  • Frank and Dr. Gruber walk through a maze of staircases and walkways, sometimes hidden by columns, illustrating the difficult terrain morally Frank is passing. They walk into full frame for Dr. Gruber’s dramatic line of “The doctors killed her”, leaving no doubt about the truth amongst all the legal issues.
  • Frank is never given a close up in the entire scene. The only close up is given to Dr. Gruber when he states that he is giving the deposition, “to do the right thing. Isn’t that why you’re doing it?” The next shot is a long shot of Frank looking small, an answer to Dr. Gruber’s question pictorially. Frank then shouts ecstatically.


  1. Laura (19:36-21:09): Introduction of Love Interest

Laura Inciting Incident: Desire- Get to know Frank

Action 1: Frank approaches Laura at a bar, looking for apartments. He asks to buy her a drink, but she turns him down.

Action 2: On her way out, Laura tells him that she’s glad he had a good day.

  • Laura looking for apartments explains that she is low on money, foreshadowing the role her character will play.


9. Kaye Case (21:10-23:03): Illustrating Character’s State of Mind

Action 1: Frank talks on the phone to Sally, explaining how everything is going. He listens to her talk about how her sister is so unprotected. He tries to talk her out of thinking too emotionally while drinking and writing how much his cut could be.

  • The shot slowly moves in to focus on Frank. While Frank’s face had been hidden before in regards to the case, the viewer can now see Frank’s lack of caring and knows what he is doing is wrong.


10. Kaye Case (23:03-25:12): Inner Change of Character Towards New Goal

Frank Second Inciting Incident: Desire- Gain Justice for Deborah Ann Kaye

Action 1: Frank returns to the hospital. He starts taking pictures of the victim hooked to the ventilator.

Action 2: Frank stops as the pictures develop. He tells a nurse that he is her attorney.

  • The viewer watches Frank’s face change as he takes the photos of the poor woman. This is in harmony to the photographs taken as they slowly develop, illustrating things becoming clear to Frank. No longer is she a prop to get him his money, but a person whose life has been taken away.
  • Frank’s change is complete as he sits down on her level, something he had been unable to do previously. He tells the nurse nearby that he is her attorney, signifying a change in how he views the girl.


11. Kaye Case (25:12-29:22) Protagonist Commitment to Journey

Frank End of Act One: Committed to Trying Case

Action 1: Frank sits and listens to the bishop explain the good that St. Catherine’s does for the community. He presents the church’s offer.

Action 2: Frank explains that they’ve all been bought off to look the other way. He refuses to take their money.

  • The red in the environment, matching the red worn on the bishop’s head, illustrates that Frank is wholly in the bishop’s domain.
  • Frank is given a choice in a series of shots and the script takes careful measure to record everything that Frank had originally wanted: no court, a neat $70,000 for himself, a way to move on for the family. He chooses to not do what he wanted for moral reasons.
  • Frank turns down the money with the pictures he had taken in his hands, along with the church’s money. These figures in each hand represent the moral balance at stake for his character, the scales of the law that he claims to represent.
  • Frank is shot to be very small in the scene, showing a lack of power. It is interesting at this moment that this shows his greatest conviction of character, seeming to push beyond the pressures to take the money.


12. Kaye Case, Mickey and Frank (29:22-31:43) Establishing Bond with Ally

Mickey End of Act One: Mickey committed to seeing Frank to end of line

Action 1: Frank visits Mickey playing cards. He convinces him to hear him out.

Action 2: Mickey tries to convince Frank to change his mind. Frank refuses.

Action 3: Mickey points out that the Archdioceses’ lawyer is Ed Concannon, who he calls the prince of darkness, trying to get him to understand just how wrong things could go. Frank says he has to stand up for that girl.

Action 4: Frank tells Mickey he’s going to try the case and he needs his help. Mickey agrees to help.

  • Frank and Mickey’s conversation is now done in tracking shots, showing Frank moving in his agenda rather than trapped an alcoholic. We also see Frank’s face, connected with him on his journey as a hero.


13. Concannon (31:43-34:42) Introduction of Chief Antagonist

Concannon Inciting Incident and Act One: Concannon committed to besting Frank

Action 1: Concannon explains to his army of lawyers the situation regarding Frank. He explains the plan, including reviewing depositions and starting a goodwill tour for the doctors. He concludes with a plan to make it seem that Frank’s trial is an attack on the institution.

Action 2: The Archdioceses lawyers get their documents together.

  • The long boardroom in the scene illustrates how much more manpower the Archdiocese has in comparison to Frank and Mick, who operate just by themselves.


14. Frank and Mickey (34:42-35:59) Devising Strategy and Evaluating Enemy

Action 1: Frank and Mickey work at a long empty table. Mickey goes over the background of the doctors and their prestige. Frank states that as long as they have Dr. Gruber, they’ll be all right and begins to research cases that’ll help them.

  • As Mickey talks about the doctors and their history he calls them appearing as if God to a jury as he stands at the highest point of the frame, a reference to how mighty they’ll appear in testimony. He walks back down as he talks about the two of them and the camera pulls in, bringing us back to Earth, with Frank.


15. Laura (35:59-42:02) Committing to Emotional Attachment with Love Interest

Laura Act One Climax: Committed to Frank and his life

Action 1: Frank tells Mickey he’ll meet him tomorrow because he’s going to get laid.

Action 2: Frank goes to Laura. He asks her questions about her life. She reveals that her ex-husband was a lawyer. He gets her to tell him her name.

Action 3: He tells her he bets she came back to see him. She doesn’t confirm or deny it. He gets her to agree to dinner with him.

Action 4: Frank explains his philosophy on why he is a lawyer, that the weak need somebody to defend them. Courts exist to give the weak a chance at justice.

Action 5: Laura comes home with him. They kiss between drinks. She notices the picture of his ex-wife next to his bed and laughs it off.

  • The scene is all done in shot, reverse shot, showing them as a couple, bringing them together.
  • Laura is always looking around, peering at the things Frank is saying or his apartment. What could be interpreted as mindful glances of a potential lover are subtle clues that she is digging for something deeper. Her laugh at the ex-wife portrait is her first moment of genuineness, suggesting that all of their interaction before was a charade.


16. Kaye Case (42:02-47:05) Antagonistic Forces Begin Offensive

Action 1: Frank plays pinball, besting the game. He notices the time, realizes he is late and runs out of the bar.

Action 2: Frank enters into his meeting with the Judge and Concannon late. He tells Concannon they have met before, but Concannon obviously doesn’t remember it. The Judge pushes Frank to take the Archdiocese’s deal, as does Concannon.

Action 3: The Judge points out Frank’s past history, including his almost disbarment. Frank states that things can change, but the Judge tries to humor him into taking the deal. Frank refuses. The Judge leaves for court, then Concannon, leaving Frank alone.

  • Frank is seen multiple times playing a pinball machine. This ties in with his quote about the weak needing a chance at justice, not necessarily justice itself. The game is a metaphor of how some things are based on chance as well as dedication. His playing improves as he becomes more and more dedicated to the case (also evidenced by the shots continually becoming brighter), but it is still just a chance at winning. The cheerful beeping noises also reflect his recent “score” with Laura. The fact that he is late because of the game reflects how he is still not committed to the need to fully change his moral compass.
  • The Judge and Concannon represent a world of current order that Frank used to be a part of, but isn’t anymore. The Judge and Concannon are very open in their arms and gestures while Frank is closed and reserved. Frank is always given his own shot while the Judge and Concannon are looking at Frank and the audience over Frank’s shoulder. As the Judge makes his offer to “save” Frank from embarrassment, he offers first Concannon tea, showing their partnership, then Frank, showing he could rejoin their ranks by accepting the offer. At the end, Frank is totally alone.


17. Kaye Case (47:05-51:17) Complications with Past Allies

Action 1: Frank questions potential jurors. He is out of practice.

Action 2: Frank and Mickey discuss the case. Concannon is planting stories in the newspaper. He realizes he is late to meet Dr. Gruber.

Action 3: Kevin Doneghy finds Frank and punches him. He threatens Frank for ruining his life and not taking the offer.

Action 4: Frank tries to explain his reasoning to Kevin, saying he’ll get more money after court.

Action 5: Kevin states that lawyers are all alike and they will live his mistake.

  • The jury is framed through the audience’s point of view, putting us as the jury in terms of Frank’s performance. With his asking if the Jewish man had ever been at St. Catherine’s hospital, it shows a lack of preparedness.
  • After Kevin punches Frank, all the action takes place in medium shots so the audience can view the reactions of Frank and Kevin. This makes their interaction that much more powerful.


18. Kaye Case (51:18-55:48) Antagonistic Forces Take Control

Action 1: Frank tries to find Dr. Gruber, but he is nowhere to be found. He asks a nurse, but she states that he hasn’t been there all day.

Action 2: Frank looks Dr. Gruber’s home address up and visits his residence. He rings the doorbell. There is no answer. A woman informs him Dr. Gruber is in the Caribbean and won’t return for a week.

Action 3: Frank visits the Judge, seeking an extension to subpoena Dr. Gruber. The Judge closes the door in his face.

  • The scene takes place in the same location as the first scene with Dr. Gruber, but it is much darker, the shadows becoming ominous forewarnings of the force that Frank is fighting. Frank is shot entirely alone again.
  • The score kicks in as Frank realizes that he is out of his depth. It is especially eerie since this is one of its first uses.
  • Paul Newman gives a powerful reaction shot after he rings the doorbell. He turns into a close-up from the emptiness of the street in the previous shot as he realizes how he has been manipulated.


19. Laura (55:49-57:22) Explaining Protagonist History

Action 1: Mickey talks with Laura. He explains how Frank got into trouble in the past, how his boss tried to fix a case and he got stuck with the blame.

  • Though Mick and Laura are shot in the same booth as Frank and Laura’s date, the scene does not feel the same because of the angle of the shot, both characters shot in medium-wide rather than medium-close, making the scene less personal. Mickey also stares away for the most of the scene, lost in the past.


20. Kaye Case (57:23-1:02:37) Responding to Antagonist Attacks

Action 1: Frank, obviously desperate, talks to an operator. He gives her a number for the Archdiocese to call him.

Action 2: In his office, Frank answers the phone, trying to get the original offer of $210,000 back on the table. There is no luck.

Action 3: Frank explains the situation to Mickey. He gets started on a list to replace Dr. Gruber. Frank starts calling doctors.

  • Frank’s conversation on the phone with the Archdiocese features only his dialogue. This makes the force he is dealing with beyond human control, an unnatural force of nature more than a human being (this ties in with the pevious scenes of him running through the streets searching for any human figure). The viewer imagining what the other end of the call is like is worse than an actual representation.
  • The scene is shot in a long shot, showing just how meek Frank is. Frank and Mickey are also shot with the same window between them as their first scene, showing the distance in their standing. As Mickey is enlisted by Frank for help, he pulls closer to Frank, eliminating that distance.


21. Laura (1:02:38-1:03:16) Searching the Protagonist for Hope

Action 1: Laura tries to get Frank to relax.

  • Laura’s face is completely in shadow. This makes her seem more ethereal than an actual person, a force. This also pulls away emotional attachment to her.


22. Concannon (1:03:17-1:05:41) Antagonist’s Mounting Plans

Action 1: Concannon reviews the testimony of Dr. Towler. He instructs him on how to say his testimony and appear to a jury, speaking in short sentences and referring to the girl by her name. He is confrontational with the doctor, telling him to cut the bullshit.

Action 2: The doctor accuses Concannon of not knowing what it was like in the room, practically reliving the experience. Concannon laughs, knowing how that will play in court.

  • Showing the force of the lawyers of St. Catherine’s everything is bright, the shot is shown across a long table and there are many lawyers gathered.


23. Kaye Case (1:05:42-1:07:46) Protagonist’s Plans Flounder

Action 1: Frank waits at the train station for Dr. Thompson. He is shaken to see that he is unorthodox and black.

Action 2: Frank calls Mickey to see if he has found the nurse who won’t testify. He hasn’t.


24. Kaye Case (1:07:47-1:10:10) Flummoxed Protagonist Pushed to the Limit

Action 1: Frank visits the nurse, Maureen, who won’t testify in search of evidence for Deborah Ann Kaye, trying to figure out why there was a mistake in the operating room.

Action 2: He pushes the nurse, threatening to subpoena her, knowing that she won’t tell him the truth. She calls all lawyers whores and slams the door shut.

  • Frank is framed in the middle of the shot, the door to screen right and the wall to screen left, representing how boxed into a corner he is.


25. Concannon (1:10:11-1:11:14) Antagonist Gathering Confidence

Action 1: One of the lawyers tells Concannon how unqualified Dr. Thompson is.


26. Kaye Case (1:11:15-1:12:45) Protagonist and Ally Questioning Their Resolve

Action 1: Dr. Thompson tells Mickey his findings from the case. Mickey tries to get a rise out of Dr. Thompson.

Action 2: Mickey asks him what “code blue” is. Dr. Thompson doesn’t know, signifying his lack of expertise. Mickey and Frank share a glance.

  • Frank is framed sitting by while Mickey questions Dr. Thompson, always in the shadows. His apprehension regarding the testimony is evident by his mere presence, not getting involved.


27. Laura and Frank (1:12:16-1:16:17) Protagonist Challenged to the Core

Frank Midpoint: Frank now has to man up to survive in court, a quest that he has failed up to this point

Laura Midpoint: Laura moves beyond love interest to morality questioner, challenging Frank

Action 1: Frank tells Laura that they’re going to lose. He questions why he ever took the case to trial.

Action 2: Laura tries to get him to man up and face his problems. She accuses him of being a kid, a failure if he doesn’t start acting like a man.

Action 3: Frank ducks away into the bathroom to catch his breath. He begs her not to pressure him.

Action 4: Frank kisses Laura, asleep in bed.

  • Frank hides almost in the doorway, admitting defeat, while Laura, his conscience, looms large. This comparison shows a broken man. The opposite angle shows Laura, medium shot, against white drapes, making her appear more angelic, while Frank remains small in the doorway, surrounded by straight lines made by the bed, dressers and drawers, another symbol of him being boxed in.
  • There is a further crescendo of soundtrack as Laura digs into Frank.


28. Kaye Case (1:16:18-1:19:51) The Protagonist Enters the Arena of His Challenge

Action 1: Frank tells Sally he’s going to do the best he can for her and her sister. He enters court.

Action 2: Mickey tries to get Frank to lighten up. Frank doesn’t laugh. The Judge enters. Court begins

Action 3: Frank addresses the jury in his opening statement.

  • The court is presented as a wide expanse, completed with a multitude of different people. The brown furnishings glisten as if this were a mausoleum. The audience to court is framed primarily in darkness, taking our place as moviegoers, watching the action present between lawyers, judge and jury.
  • Frank’s opening statement features a tracking camera, along the back of the jury. This puts the viewer in the place of the jury, judging for themselves Frank’s performance and heart.


29.Kaye Case (1:19:52-1:26:19) Frank Confronts Minor Antagonist (Judge)

Action 1: A couple of lawyers discuss the case, indicating that they have a source working against Frank.

Action 2: Concannon questions Dr. Thompson. Concannon placates the court by admitting him as an expert witness.

Action 3: Frank begins to question Dr. Thompson. The Judge blurts out a question at the witness, seemingly taking over the court himself. Frank hastily retreats after the Judge’s question. Court is adjourned.

Action 4: The Judge, in his chambers, accuses Frank of needing to have been kicked out long ago. Frank finally stands up for himself, telling the Judge he only wants a fair share, and the Judge is losing the case for him. Frank is thrown out of chambers.

  • Thompson is framed very small, showing his lack of strength in the courtroom initially. As Concannon attacks him more and more, the shots becoming closer, showing the expressions of both men.
  • Frank is framed next to the jury, showing just who he is trying to influence.
  • The Judge is framed higher than everyone else, appearing large and formidable compared to the rest of the court. When questioning Dr. Thompson, he stands up, elevating himself even more.
  • As Frank yells at the Judge in his chambers, the Judge is seated with his back to the camera, diminishing in size and power while Frank stands over him, intimidating. This is the first instance of Frank doing what Laura had wanted of him: taking control.


30. Kaye Case (1:26:20-1:28:35) Protagonist, Driven by Pride, Damages Himself

Action 1: Frank tries to calm down Sally. He walks away as she cries.

Action 2: Frank questions Dr. Towler. He refuses to let him actually answer any of his questions, continually plowing onto another point. When Dr. Towler actually does answer, he contradicts Frank’s point and damages the case.

  • Seeing Concannon prep Dr. Towler earlier, the audience knows he is prone to giving in to pressure and waits from him to break as before, but instead he remains cool, showing how much he has been prepared.


31. Kaye Case (1:28:36-1:31:00) Rededication by Protagonist, Aided by Allies

Action 1: Frank and Mickey stand together, mulling over the damage to the case he’s made. Dr. Thompson says goodbye, saying that people have a great capacity to hear the truth.

Action 2: Frank tells Laura he has no idea what he’s going to do.

Action 3: Mickey rubs Frank’s shoulders, telling him there’ll be other cases. Frank states that this is the case.

  • Frank is positioned facing down, his back to Mickey, not even able to look him in the eye. Mickey’s displeasure is evident all over his expression. Mickey serves as a moral compass for Frank to attain to throughout the film, and this simple posture illustrates just how far Frank has fallen.
  • The snow covering the ground indicates how frozen and alone Frank is in his case.


32. Kaye Case, Concannon and Laura (1:31:01-1:32:41) An Ally and Love Interest Reveal Their True Nature

Laura Act Two Climax: Laura’s actions are revealed to be false

Concannon Act Two Climax: Concannon reveals just how far he is willing to go to beat Frank.

Action 1: Concannon gives Laura a check, revealing that she is the informant on the Kaye case. Concannon explains her own internal thinking, showing he understands what she is going through, but that it is necessary.

  • Concannon talks to a mysterious off-screen presence, setting up Laura’s reveal through a tracking shot. He gives her a glass of whiskey in the same manner that the Judge gave him, symbolizing that she is part of that system now.


33. Kaye Case (1:32:42-1:35:50) The Protagonist Gains New Insight and Direction

Action 1: Frank and Mickey go through the facts of the case again. Frank notices an interesting face about the admitting nurse and leaves the office.

Action 2: Frank visits Maureen Rooney again. He tricks her into believing that he has already talked with Kaitlin Costello, the admitting nurse, and learns her location.

  • Frank discovers the interesting tidbit about the admitting nurse framed against the diplomas hanging back up on his wall, showing that he has some achieved some of the prestige of his past.
  • Frank meets with Maureen in a church, offering a parallel of confronting one’s demands and seeking help with no other place to turn to.


34. Kaye Case (1:35:51-1:38:15) The Protagonist Runs Into a Pitfall

Action 1: Frank and Mickey try to find Kaitlin Costello. Laura sneaks around, looking for information to leak back to Concannon.

Action 2: After calling many Kaitlin Costellos, Frank is exhausted. He has no leads.

  • Frank’s exhaustion shows on his face as the camera starts with a wide shot, then moves in closer and closer to close up.


35. Kaye Case (1:38:16-1:44:01) The Protagonist Makes One Last Attempt at Chance for Success

Action 1: Frank wakes up after sleeping the night in his office. He finds a letter from the New England Telephone Office.

Action 2: Frank speaks to Kaitlin and boards a flight after her. As he calls Laura, Mickey finds the check from Concannon to her.

Action 3: Frank finds Kaitlin taking care of some children on a playground. He keeps up the charade of looking into the program for his nephew until she sees his plane ticket in his pocket. He asks if she’ll help him.

  • This scene involves a number of close ups on paper. From Frank finding the letter from the phone company to Mickey finding Laura’s check from Concannon to Kaitlin spotting Frank’s plane ticket, all little pieces of information relating to information hiding just below the service, everyone with secrets to hide.
  • Only when Frank stops lying to Kaitlin, as he has lied and manipulated all the other persons in the case, does he get true help in the situation. He stops being just a whore who doesn’t care about anyone, as Maureen had called him, and becomes an actual human being trying to do right by his client.


36. Laura (1:44:02-1:46:01) The Protagonist Faces Down Against Allies Turned Enemies and Emerges to Finish Quest

Mickey Act Two Climax: Mickey protects Frank even though it means hurting his heart.

Laura Act Three Climax: Laura, hated by herself and Frank, is tossed away.

Frank Act Two Climax: Frank, betrayed by the institutions and his job, must complete the last leg of his quest by himself.

Action 1: Mickey waits in the sidewalk for Frank. He takes him around the corner and tells him about Laura’s betrayal.

Action 2: Frank runs into the dark bar, the sunlight spreading in from the window nearby. He finds Laura and punches her. She tells the other men in the bar to leave him alone.

  • As Mickey tells Frank about Laura’s betrayal, the shot pulls back to an extreme long shot. We do not hear their actual conversation, but we are so in tune with the characters that we already know how it goes. Through the simple body language of Frank and Mickey, we see his reaction.
  • Rather than any actual confrontation, Frank and Laura simply stare at each other, Frank shocked, Laura guilty, their reactions evident simply through acting. The camera moves in to Laura, judging her as Frank does.


37. Kaye Case (1:46:02-1:59:12) The Protagonist Fulfills His Last Stand, But the Antagonizing Forces are Too Strong

Concannon Act Three Climax: Concannon uses every last trick in the book, defying his own morality, in a last attempt to win the case.

Action 1: Sitting on a plane, Frank tells Mickey that he doesn’t want a mistrial.

Action 2: Mickey brings Frank breakfast. Laura calls. Mickey lies that Frank isn’t there.

Action 3: Frank questions Dr. Towler again. He asks if he had administered an anesthetic one-hour beforehand, causing her to vomit in her mask, if that would make him negligent. He agrees that it would.

Action 4: Frank questions Kaitlin on the stand. Kaitlin testifies that Deborah had told her she had eaten on-hour prior to visiting and marked it down.

Action 5: Concannon questions Kaitlin on the stand, bullying her. Kaitlin tells him that she kept a copy of the original admittance form and relates how the doctor made her change the one on the from into a nine. Kaitlin runs out of the room.

Action 6: Concannon launches a series of changes to Kaitlin’s testimony, Frank fighting back, but the Judge sustaining. All of Kaitlin’s testimony is disallowed.

  • As opposed to the previous court scene, this takes place later in the day, the darker hues and colors, stronger shadows, representing the darkness that Frank has gone through.
  • The camera tracks Dr. Towler as he leaves the stand. As Kaitlin Price is called up, he turns straight to the camera, shocked. This gives the audience a glimmer of hope and understanding that he has indeed just lied on the stand.
  • Kaitlin is filmed in the center of the screen, a strand of light illuminating her face and hair, appearing angelic, a vision of truthfulness. Her virtue and fear at her surroundings immediately brings the audience emotionally to her side.
  • Concannon’s questioning of Kaitlin features him at a high angle, dwarfing over her, as if attacking. This presents him as fearsome, his tone registering the perfect balance of calm accusatory. As Kaitlin begins surprising him with her testimony, she pulls out his frame, leaving him on the defensive, highlighting his own reactions. Kaitlin then speaks directly to Dr. Towler, everything flashing back to four years, a conclusion to a scene the audience has never seen, but can perfectly imagine.
  • As Concannon rips apart Kaitlin’s testimony, the Judge is seen assuming his previous place as higher than other individuals, but Frank, with his objections, keeps rising up in the frame, trying to reach that peak of importance. Concannon grows larger in the frame. Frank however, is shown small in the frame, showing his lack of power.


38. Frank, Kaye Case (1:59:12-2:03:26)

Church Act One Climax: The bishop knows about the truth, but, wrapped in his self-importance, moves on.

Frank Act Three Climax: Frank lays bear everything he has learned during the case, the need for true justice in a world of corruption and the need to fight for it.

Action 1: The bishop talks with several of his lawyers. They all believe Kaitlin was telling the truth, but agree that legally the case is over.

Action 2: Frank addresses the jury. He states that if we are to have faith in justice, we need only to believe in ourselves and act with justice. He impassions the jury to believe in justice because at that moment, they are justice.

  • The scene is set later in the day to reveal the evening of the story and how things are coming to a close.
  • Frank explains the main themes of the film: the rich win while the poor lose, liars are everywhere and everyone becomes a victim. He reflects the same strong themes he had told Laura near the beginning of the story, trusting in the power of the truth.
  • The camera moves in on Frank as he delivers his closing statement, presenting us as the jury, and giving Frank the opportunity to present his changed self, the self of core beliefs that he had lost and regained.
  • As Frank had always been trying to reach Mickey’s stature of moral acceptance, Mickey pats Frank’s arm when he returns to his seat, signifying his acceptance.


39. Kaye Case (2:03:27-2:04:46)

Kaye Resolution: The case is won.

Action 1: The jury returns to deliver a verdict in favor of Deborah Ann Kaye. They ask for more allowance to be given than the suit asked for.

  • The camera follows the jury as they return to the courtroom, letting the audience finally actually see them, and in so doing, us.
  • As the verdict is read, the camera pans down from the loft of the Judge down to Frank, showing that Frank has now achieved the grandeur so long lost to him.
  • The scene cuts before the amount of reward is announced, showing that the true importance of the moment is not money, but the serving of the justice strived for by Frank.


40. Laura (2:04:47-2:06:47)

Laura Act Four Climax: Laura and Frank, free from the case, are unable to reconcile their differences in morality.

Action 1: Various people congratulate Frank as he leaves the courtoom. He looks out to see Laura in the distance. He walks past her. When he looks back, she is gone.

Action 2: Laura lies in bed, drunk, knocking a glass over. She calls Frank. Frank lets the phone ring as he sits in his office. He closes his eyes, immune to the noise.

  • Laura appears very small in frame, Frank dwarfing her, showing how small she has become while at the same time how great Frank now is.
  • Laura disappearing shows just how far he has moved on, Laura becoming a haunting image of regret and betrayal in his mind, no longer a person, but a ghost.
  • Frank’s office is now pristine. He is cleanly shaven, drinks coffee instead of booze, a picture of respectability. By closing his eyes, he moves past Laura and the corruption she represents.



The Verdict represents a search for justice in a world where the rich and powerful usually win. Frank seeks justice not from the court, but from higher powers, the ability to find justice in ourselves amongst all the pain of the world. The verdict of the trial is not an actual court case, but of Frank’s soul, to see if he has truly earned a place as a respectable man. As characters rise and fall around him, he finds  justice for his client, deprived of it by the very same people who deprived him of his reputation, through an appeal to our inner goodness.