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“Jurassic Park” Analysis

Story Analysis Description

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

*Special thanks to Movieclips for their clips below

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CHARACTERS

Protagonist Alan Grant
Desire Conscious: Finance his dig and discover dinosaurs
Unconscious: Become a parent
Conflict Levels Inner: Fear of evolving
Personal: Dinosaurs, Lex and Tim, Ellie, Malcolm
Extra-Personal: Parenthood, Finance
Character Characterization: Gruff scientist
True Character: Hero
Turn: Caring father figure
John Hammond
Desire Conscious: Finance Jurassic Park
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner: Possible madness
Personal: Gennaro, scientists
Extra-Personal:
Character Characterization: Freewheeling billionaire
True Character:
Turn:
Dennis Nedry
 Desire  Conscious: Make a lot of money by stealing dinosaur embryos
 Unconscious:  
 Conflict Levels  Inner:  
 Personal:  Hammond, Arnold
 Extra-Personal:  –
 Character  Characterization:  Corrupt computer hacker
 True Character:  
 Turn:  
Muldoon
Desire Conscious: Neutralize raptors
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner:
Personal: Velociraptors
Extra-Personal:
Character Characterization: Cunning hunter
True Character:
Turn:
Malcolm
Desire Conscious: Get together with Ellie
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner:
Personal: Ellie, Allan
Extra-Personal:
Character Characterization: Egotistical mathematician
True Character:
Turn:
Gennaro
Desire Conscious: Shut down Jurassic Park
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner:
Personal: Hammond
Extra-Personal:
Character Characterization: Corrupt businessman
True Character:
Turn:
Principle of Antagonism Positive Evolution Pessimistic Ebbing evolution
Negative Stagnation Negation of Negation Tampering with nature
Controlling Idea: Evolution must be a natural process because tampering with nature leads to catastrophe.

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PLOT

Inciting Incident Hammond proposes to Alan and Ellie to come to his island
Act One Climax Alan, Ellie and Malcolm meet the Brachiosaurus
GAP Alan discovers that Hammond is tampering with nature in dangerous ways
Progressive Complications The park malfunctions and Allan is thrust into a parental role
Midpoint The T. Rex eats Gennaro, injures Malcolm and forces Allan to care for Lexi and Tim
Act Two Climax Alan saves Tim after he’s electrocuted
Climax Alan grabs a gun and decides to save Lexi and Tim
Act Three Climax The T. Rex kills the Velociraptors and Alan, Ellie, Lexi and Tim escape
Resolution Alan realizes he’s evolved into a parent

HERO’S JOURNEY

ORDINARY WORLD Alan and Ellie dig up dinosaur bones in the desert
CALL TO ADVENTURE Hammond invites them to his island
REFUSAL OF THE CALL Alan doesn’t get in the car with Lexi or Tim
MEETING THE MENTOR
CROSSING FIRST THRESHOLD Alan saves Lexi and Tim from the T. Rex
TESTS, ALLIES, ENEMIES Alan teaches Lexi and Tim to feed the Brachiosaurus
APPROACH TO INMOST CAVE Alan leads Lexi and Tim past the Gallimimuses
ORDEAL Alan saves Tim after he is electrocuted
REWARD Alan learns how to be a caring parent
ROAD BACK Alan leads Lexi and Tim back to the visitor center
RESURRECTION Alan puts himself in danger to save Lexi and Tim from the Velociraptors
RETURN WITH ELIXIR Lexi and Tim sleep on Alan’s shoulders on the helicopter

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ARCHETYPES

HERO Alan Grant
SHADOW Gennaro, Hammond
MENTOR
ALLY Lexi, Tim, Ian, Ellie
HERALD Hammond
THRESHOLD GUARDIAN T. Rex, Velociraptor
TRICKSTER Dilophosaurus
SHAPESHIFTER Dennis

 

THEMES

Tampering with nature disrupts evolution and creates monsters Hammond is reckless in his pursuit of creating dinosaurs, seeking to impress the world through sheer will, but he does not grasp the will of nature. Tampering with such primordial forces is an affront to the natural world and will result only in catastrophe. Evolution is a subtle act that effects all of us beyond our control. Trying to play God will have consequences.
Money leads to corruption Both Gennaro and Dennis are primarily influenced by money, causing each to act against others and, in essence, nature. Gennaro betrays his borrowers by fully buying into the idea of Jurassic Park to make money. Dennis betrays his employers to steal embryos and sell out. Both actions subliminally are an affront to nature by acquiescing to Hammond’s madness and these choices cost them their lives.

STORYLINES

Alan Grant Evolving
John Hammond’s Madness
Dennis and the Embryos
Ian and Ellie
Gennaro’s Greed
Muldoon and the Velociraptors

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SCENE BREAKDOWN

Scene #1 The Velociraptors are Transferred
Protagonist Muldoon
Desire Load the Raptors safely
Antagonist Velociraptors
TP A raptor breaks free and grabs the gatekeeper
Value Survival
Role Muldoon Inciting Incident: The Raptor attack convinces him that raptors need to be destroyed because they are too dangerous
Analysis The film starts right off with the central theme: man and its inability to control nature. We have man utilizing technology (grids, electricity, lights, gates, tasers), trying to control a creature born out of a lab, the Velociraptor. Man can’t control this beast, resulting in the death of the gatekeeper. Spielberg is able to elevate the relatively simple attack by using his wide skills of cinematic talent, highlighting the hunter/hunted dynamic, the ferocity of the raptors and the most important lesson he learned from Jaws: not seeing the creature is worse than seeing it.
Scene #2 Gennaro at the Dig Site
Protagonist Gennaro
Desire Shut down Hammond’s park
Antagonist Hammond, Rostagno
TP Rostagno tells Gennaro Grant won’t come to the park
Value Money
Role Gennaro Inciting Incident: Shut down Hammond for losing his investor’s money. Hammond Inciting Incident: Get backing to finance his park.
Analysis Gennaro is the first representation of greed and corruption in the film. He doesn’t fit into the natural world he walks through, nervously balancing on his boat, tripping over rocks, bumping his head in the mine. He will view the dinosaurs as a great scheme to make money, displaying a lack of respect for nature.
Scene #3 Alan Dig Site
Protagonist Alan Grant
Desire Find and learn about dinosaurs
Antagonist Kid
TP Grant terrifies the kid who mocks him
Value Parenthood
Role Introduction of Grant
Analysis We are introduced to Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler. Alan is gruff and dedicated to his mission as a paleontologist. Ellie is his better half, trying to help him evolve into a parent, an underlying desire he rejects. We are again introduced to faulty technology as the underground scanner they use is shotty. We also come to understand how informed Alan is, particularly in regards to Velociraptors, knowledge that will help him later in the story.
Scene #4 Hammond Proposes Plan to Alan and Ellie
Protagonist Hammond
Desire Get Alan and Ellie to come to island
Antagonist Alan and Ellie
TP Hammond proposes to fund their dig for three more years and gets them to visit island
Value Finance
Role INCITING INCIDENT: Hammond gets Alan and Ellie to go to his island and the chance to finance his dig for three years. Hammond Act One Climax: Impress group so his park can be financed.
Analysis Hammond serves as a herald to the adventure, bringing both Ellie and Alan to Isla Nublar. His entrance again highlights his disrespect to nature, his helicopter loud and boisterous, nearly destroying the fossils being excavated. And he opens a bottle of champagne, wearing all white, showing his wealth. Alan and Ellie by contrast are dirty and in work clothes. Given the opportunity of wealth to continue funding their dig, they take it without question, again showing the corrupting power of money and greed.
Scene #5 Dennis Paid
Protagonist Dennis
Desire Make money
Antagonist Hammond
TP Dennis takes money
Value Money
Role Dennis Act One Climax, Dennis Inciting Incident Offscreen: Hammond doesn’t pay him enough money, sending him on a course of betrayal.
Analysis Greed and gluttony rear their ugly heads again. Dennis cares only about money, not respecting nature and its power. Consumed by greed, he works to betray Hammond by selling dinosaur embryos. By accepting Dodson’s money, he embarks on his journey.
Scene #6 Helicopter Ride
Protagonist Hammond
Desire Get island financed
Antagonist Gennaro
TP
Value Finance
Role Malcolm Inciting Incident: Attracted to Ellie
Analysis We are introduced to Ian Malcolm, a slightly crazy mathematician who starts his journey by hitting on Ellie, mentioning his concept of “strange attractions.” The helicopter flight is another example of Hammond’s wealth as they zoom across the ocean and through the island mountains. This is Hammond’s gambit, to impress his entourage of Gennaro, Sattler, Malcolm and Grant (GSMG) and to finance the park. And another example of technology not working right, the helicopter landing is bumpy, portending to technology failing the characters at the end. And much has been made of the irony of Grant using two female belt buckles and tying them together, just as how two female dinosaurs will eventually breed.
Scene #7 Gennaro Threatens Hammond
Protagonist Gennaro
Desire Threaten Hammond with shutdown
Antagonist Hammond
TP Gennaro Threatens Hammond
Value Money
Role Gennaro Act One Climax
Analysis Gennaro puts his cards on the table, threatening Hammond and committing to defunding the island for money.
Scene #8 Meeting the Brachiosaurus
Protagonist Hammond
Desire Show his dinosaurs
Antagonist Grant, Sattler, Malcolm, Gennaro (GSMG)
TP They see the dinosaurs
Value Finance
Role ACT ONE CLIMAX
Analysis Grant commits to the journey as he witnesses the rebirth of dinosaurs. In a way, it is his own call to evolve.
Scene #9 Introduction to Sciene
Protagonist Hammond
Desire Show off his science
Antagonist GSMG
TP GSMG break out of restraints
Value Finance
Role Explanation of how Hammond has engineered the impossible
Analysis The characters and the audience learn how Hammond has been able to bring dinosaurs back to life. Hammond is selling his science as foolproof, something Alan, Ellie and Ian have qualms about.
Scene #10 Velociraptor Hatches
Protagonist Malcolm
Desire Question Ethics
Antagonist Hammond, Dr. Wu
TP Malcolm states that life will find a way
Value Morality, Finance
Role Introduction of doubt about playing God
Analysis Malcolm serves as a cautionary voice, warning that what Hammond is doing is dangerous and a disrespect to nature. Hammond is literally playing god, birthing a Velociraptor in his own hands, the others overcome by the power of creation. As Malcolm speaks, the potential for danger grows in their minds.
Scene #11 Velociraptor Cage
Protagonist Alan
Desire Investigate Raptors
Antagonist Hammond
TP
Value Survival
Role Muldoon Rising Action
Analysis Muldoon, hardened by his experience as a hunter and harrowed by the memory of the slain worker, reports on the danger of the Velociraptors. This is yet another example of man trying to control nature in a way he can’t understand. He commits himself to the idea that the raptors should be destroyed.
Scene #12 Sea Bass Lunch
Protagonist GSMG
Desire Caution Hammond
Antagonist Hammond
TP Grant condemns park
Value Morality
Role Gennaro Act Two Climax
Analysis More examples of wealth include an expensive lunch, waiters and flashing pictures on the wall of progress and technology. Hammond is completely oblivious to the dangers of nature he is trying to control. Only Gennaro, clinging to greed, sides with him against the caution of Alan, Ellie and Malcolm, altering his goal of defrauding Hammond and committing to profiting off the island. Hammond’s ears are closed to counterarguments against his beloved park, a rock against which the currents of caution have no effect.
Scene #13 Tim and Lexi Arrive
Protagonist Hammond
Desire Use children’s awe to impress GSMG
Antagonist
TP Ellie sees Alan’s fear of children
Value Finance
Role Moral need disrupts Alan’s world
Analysis Alan’s worse nightmare arrives: children. Lexi and Tim pose a return to Alan’s dormant desire to be a parent. He consciously forces down this desire and stands petrified.
Scene #14 Boarding the Cars
Protagonist Tim and Lexi
Desire Connect with Alan
Antagonist Alan
TP Alan brushes off Lexi and Tim
Value Parenthood
Role Alan shrugging off call to evolve
Analysis Tim serves as Alan’s conscience, following him around and asking him to accept him. Alan rejects him, slamming the door in his face. At the moment, we believe Alan won’t do anything for Lexi and Tim and would never put himself out there for them. Malcolm also continues to seek out Ellie.
Scene #15 Headquarters
Protagonist Hammond
Desire Impress GSMG
Antagonist Technology, Dennis
TP Muldoon shuts everyone up
Value Finance
Role Introduction to how rocky things are behind the scenes
Analysis Behind the scenes, Hammond is much more ornery. Battling with technology and Dennis, he voices grievances and bickers. We realize that his charming persona in front of GSMG and his grandchildren is a fake to hide his deep fear and uncertainty.
Scene #16 Tour Starts
Protagonist GSMG
Desire Evaluate park
Antagonist Dinosaurs
TP No dinosaurs show up
Value Finance
Role Further proof of the inability to control nature
Analysis Nature can not be controlled as none of the dinosaurs show up to be shown off to GSMG. The lamest attempts to coax the dinosaurs out are failures, again illustrating how Hammond and InGen don’t understand what they’re handling.
Scene #17 Malcolm Explains Chaos
Protagonist Malcolm
Desire Explain chaos
Antagonist Ellie
TP Ellie jumps out of the car after Alan
Value Love
Role Malcolm continuing pursuit of Ellie
Analysis Malcom moves in on Ellie, unaware that Alan is her partner. His explanation of chaos is laced with sexual undertones, overted more than subverted. For Alan, he is uncomfortable standing up to Malcolm, showing a reticence to fight for her. Chaos theory itself plays out in the plot of the film. As the forces of nature mettle against man’s inclinations, chaos will reign.
Scene #18 Meeting the Triceratops
Protagonist Ellie
Desire Understand the Triceratops
Antagonist Illness
TP Ellie goes to dino droppings
Value Finance
Role The awe of dinosaurs may sway GSMG yet.
Analysis The awe of the park again appears to GSMG. It wows the audience as well, appealing to our childhood wonder, the desire to see and touch a real dinosaur.
Scene #19 Storm Moves In
Protagonist Muldoon
Desire Investigate storm
Antagonist Weather
TP Headquarters decides to stop tour
Value Finance
Role Hammond Act Two Climax: Hammond believes his tour a failure and his park’s future is in doubt.
Analysis Hammond curses the weather, a hindrance in his mind to his ambition, another aspect he can not control.
Scene #20 Dino Droppings
Protagonist Ellie
Desire Determine next course
Antagonist Weather
TP Ellie decides to stay while group goes back to Jeeps
Value Knowledge
Role Separation from Ellie
Analysis The group separates, leaving Malcolm and Alan together. This sets Alan adrift in a way.
Scene #21 Dennis Plans His Heist
Protagonist Dennis
Desire Steal embryos
Antagonist Weather
TP No promises for weather
Value Finance
Role Increased risk for Dennis
Analysis The pressure on Dennis mounts as the storm complicates his plan to steal the embryos. Time is now a factor as the risk increases.
Scene #22 Dennis Puts Plan in Motion
Protagonist Dennis
Desire Steal embryos
Antagonist Weather, Security
TP Dennis shuts down system
Value Finance
Role Dennis works on plan.
Analysis Dennis commits to his plan and moves to get the embryos.
Scene #23 Ian and Alan Talk
Protagonist Alan
Desire Keep Malcolm away from
Antagonist Malcolm
TP Malcolm backs off from Ellie
Value Love
Role Malcolm Act One Climax
Analysis Alan tries to talk to Malcolm, but they don’t have much in common. Alan has seen how Malcolm is flirting with Ellie. He lets Malcolm know about their relationship, ending his pursuit of her.
Scene #24 Dennis Steals the Embryos
Protagonist Dennis
Desire Steal the embryos
Antagonist Hammond, Arnold
TP Dennis gets the embryos
Value Finance
Role Dennis Act Two Climax
Analysis Dennis’ plan seems to be working as he gets the embryos and shuts down the security grid to escape.
Scene #25 The T. Rex Breaks Out
Protagonist Alan
Desire Save Lex and Tim
Antagonist T. Rex
TP Alan uses a flare to save the kids
Value Survival
Role MIDPOINT, Gennaro Act Three Climax
Analysis Nature breaks free fom the constraints of man’s technology. As the park shuts down, the T. Rex emerges from its pen, causing havok. Gennaro is killed for his lack of respect for primal nature, ending his storyline. For every other character, their goal changes. The goal of the evaluation of the park morphs into a need to survive.
Scene #26 Alan Gets the Children Out
Protagonist Alan
Desire Save Lex and Tim
Antagonist T. Rex
TP Alan climbs down into paddock
Value Survival
Role Alan Midpoint
Analysis Alan is faced with a choice: hide in the car and wait or try and save Lex and Tim. He chooses to save the kids, his inner parental instinct taking over. This represents his character midpoint as he changes his goal from avoiding children to saving them.
Scene #27 Headquarters Wonders
Protagonist Arnold
Desire Get the park back online
Antagonist Dennis, Nature
TP Arnold admits he can’t get the park back online without Dennis
Value Survival
Role The stakes deepen
Analysis The repercussions of their actions begin to become apparent to those in headquarters. As the park crumbles around them, Hammond feels the burden of his decision bare down on him.
Scene #28 Dennis and the Dilophosaurus
Protagonist Dennis
Desire Get off the island
Antagonist Weater, Dilophosaurus
TP The Dilophosaurus attacks Dennis
Value Survival
Role Dennis Act Three Climax
Analysis Dennis’ greed becomes his destruction as his disrespect for nature (and the fault of technology symbolized by his car) come to pass. The Dilophosaurus kills him, ending his storyline, and the embros are lost to the mud, a symbol of man’s faulty ambition.
Scene #29 Escaping the Tree
Protagonist Alan
Desire Save Tim
Antagonist Car
TP Alan saves Tim
Value Survival
Role Continual development for Alan
Analysis Alan faces another test of his parental instinct. Lexi begs him not to leave and he needs to convince Tim to get out of the car. Again, the car represents man’s faulty technology, helpless against the power of nature. Alan successfully saves Tim.
Scene #30 Ellie and Muldoon Save Malcolm
Protagonist Ellie and Muldoon
Desire Save Alan, Lex, Tim, Malcolm and Gennaro
Antagonist Dinosaurs
TP Escape T. Rex
Value Survival
Role Deeper stakes as headquarters realizes that Alan, Lexi and Tim are missing and Gennaro is dead
Analysis Ellie and Muldoon come face to face with the power of Hammond’s creations as the T. Rex chases after them and they realize Gennaro is dead.
Scene #31 Alan, Lexi and Tim Sleep in the Tree
Protagonist Alan
Desire Reassure Lex and Tim
Antagonist
TP Alan tosses his Velociraptor claw
Value Parenting
Role Alan development
Analysis Alan ditches his old self symbolically by tossing the Velociraptor claw. His comfort with Lex and Tim as their surrogate father continues to develop.
Scene #32 Petticoat Lane
Protagonist Hammond
Desire Justify actions
Antagonist Ellie
TP Ellie chastises Hammond
Value Justification
Role Hammond Act Three Climax: Hammond realizes his mistake.
Analysis Hammond’s past drives his present, so much so that he may have gone mad. Desperate to regain control, he realizes that his actions have been foolhardy, a fact illuminated by Ellie. His goal changes from searching for control to retrieving his grandchildren.
Scene #33 Brachiosaurus in the Morning
Protagonist Alan
Desire Educate Lex and Tim
Antagonist Lex, Brachiosaurus
TP Petting the Brachiosaurus
Value Parenting
Role Evolution of Alan
Analysis Alan continues his adaptation into a parent by teaching Lex and Tim about dinosaurs.
Scene #34 Dinosaurs Breeding
Protagonist Alan
Desire Discover secret
Antagonist Nature
TP Alan realizes how the dinosaurs are breeding
Value Morality
Role Alan learning the value of Malcolm’s theory
Analysis Alan confirms to himself and to the audience about the versatility and resilience of nature. Malcolm’s theory of chaos has occured on the island as the dinosaurs take over.
Scene #35 Arnold Shuts Down the System
Protagonist Hammond
Desire Get the park back online
Antagonist Arnold
TP Arnold agrees to shut down system
Value Survival
Role Hammond’s goal has changed to saving his grandchildren.
Analysis Hammond is trying to get the park back online, but not to save his idea of the park, but to save his grandchildren, an evolution of his character.
Scene #36 Outflocking the Gallimimus
Protagonist Alan
Desire Escape stampede
Antagonist Gallimimus
TP Duck under tree
Value Survival
Role Alan, Lex and Tim venturing to safety
Analysis Alan, Lex and Tim are tested as they venture back to headquarters, seeking safety.
Scene #37 Going to the Breaker
Protagonist Ellie
Desire Turn the park on
Antagonist Dinosaurs
TP Ellie decides to go to the breaker
Value Survival
Role The stakes deepen
Analysis A new sequence begins as Ellie and Muldoon have to venture out and turn the park back on. This wil test them and their ability to survive.
Scene #38 Ellie Runs to Breaker
Protagonist Ellie
Desire Get to Breaker
Antagonist Velociraptor
TP Ellie makes it to breaker
Value Survival
Role The desperation grows
Analysis Ellie must work to save herself and in so doing, Alan. The escape of the Velociraptors puts greater risk into the mission.
Scene #39 Ellie Turns the Park Back On
Protagonist Ellie
Desire Turn park on
Antagonist Tunnels, Velociraptors
TP Ellie finds the grid and turns it back on
Value Survival
Role Glimmer of hope and fear
Analysis Ellie turns the park back on, but the Velociraptors hunt her. Time is now running out before there is no hope for the survivors.
Scene #40 Tim Electrocuted
Protagonist Alan
Desire Save Tim and Lexi
Antagonist Fence
TP Tim electrocuted
Value Survival
Role Alan, Lex and Tim tested
Analysis Faulty technology proves dangerous to man again as Tim is electrocuted.
Scene #41 Ellie Runs from Velociraptor
Protagonist Ellie
Desire Evade Velociraptor
Antagonist Velociraptor
TP Ellie jams Velociraptor behind door
Value Survival
Role Ellie survives
Analysis The intelligence, speed and ferocity of the Velociraptor is demonstrated as Ellie is hunted. This sets up the final threshold guardian for the group to overcome.
Scene #42 Alan Saves Tim
Protagonist Alan
Desire Save Tim
Antagonist Electric fence
TP Tim wakes up
Value Survival
Role Alan, Lex and Tim tested.
Analysis Alan does everything in his power to save Tim. In marked contrast to his earlier apprehension with children, Alan is now their parent.
Scene #43 Velociraptors Hunt Muldoon
Protagonist Muldoon
Desire Shoot Velociraptor
Antagonist Velociraptor
TP Velociraptors get the jump on Muldoon
Value Survival
Role Muldoon Act Two Climax
Analysis Muldoon enters the ring against the Velociraptor, the one-on-one confrontation he had been dreading. He puts all of his knowledge about the creatures to his own instincts as a hunter. He loses in his contest against the raptors, their wit outsmarting him. This concludes his storyline.
Scene #44 Alan Finds Ellie
Protagonist Alan
Desire Find Ellie
Antagonist Dinosaurs
TP Alan finds Ellie
Value Survival
Role Malcolm Act Two Climax
Analysis Grant and Ellie are reunited, signifying their union as a couple after being apart. After Malcolm budding into their relationship, this concludes that storyline as Ellie chooses Alan.
Scene #45 Velociraptors Hunt Lexi and Tim
Protagonist Lexi and Tim
Desire Escape Velociraptor
Antagonist Velociraptors
TP They lock Velociraptor in freezer
Value Survival
Role Lex and Tim tested
Analysis Lex and Tim are alone, without Alan. Their resourcefulness is tested as they must use the tricks taught to them by Alan to escape the raptors. This is a test of Alan’s parenthood and teaching played out against the raptors.
Scene #46 Lexi Hacks the Park
Protagonist Lexi
Desire Turn the park back on
Antagonist Velociraptors
TP Lexi turns on the door locks
Value Survival
Role A last chance for escape
Analysis Lexi uses her computer skills, hinted at before, to turn the park back on, giving the characters hope as the raptors move in. This is their last chance.
Scene #47 Escaping the Raptors
Protagonist Alan
Desire Escape the Velociraptors
Antagonist Velociraptors
TP The T. Rex saves them
Value Survival
Role ACT THREE CLIMAX
Analysis Alan, Ellie, Lex and Tim must work together, using all of their skills to best the dangerous raptors. The T. Rex, again utilizing the chaos theory of Malcolm, intervenes and inadvertently saves the day. As the final vestiges of the park collapse around them, nature has taken over the island from man’s mettling.
Scene #48 Escaping the Park
Protagonist Alan
Desire Get off the island
Antagonist
TP The helicopter takes off
Value Parenthood
Role Alan’s reward
Analysis As the characters depart, Ellie sees Alan’s growth as a parent, Lex and Tim asleep on his shoulders. He has evolved, just as dinosaurs had evolved into birds.

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OVERALL

“Jurassic Park” rightfully deserves its place as a classic “monsters” film. Though it is remembered most for its technological advancements, it is the sense of childhood wonder it creates that endears it still today. It perfectly captures the youthful sense of awe each of us would feel if we were to actually see and touch a dinosaur. The respect the film has for that childhood wonder elevates the film beyond simple monster mash.

The dinosaurs are not just monsters that our heroes need to escape from. They are living, breathing creatures, cinematically built up as primordial beasts with intelligence, power and majesty, reverential godlike entities that we can not control. The buildup over the course of the first half of the film, man tampering with nature, unaware of the danger of playing god, fully plays out over the second half of the film as all of man’s preconceptions and safeguards fall by the wayside. There’s a certain amount of glee in seeing the park fail as strange as that is, nature taking its due revenge on people who don’t respect it. The fact that we empathize with characters who are just along for the ride, not responsible for this tampering, gives us a way of caring about their escape. We delight somewhat in seeing Gennaro, Dennis and Muldoon fall because it is their basic flaw of disrespect that causes their demise. Alan, Lexi, Tim, Malcolm and Ellie never committed that sin so we feel sympathy for the situation they are in.

The brunt of technology that Hammond, Dennis, Muldoon and Arnold use to try to control the park is repeatedly referenced as faulty, little clues in the first half hinting at technology being mankind’s tool of control, but nature breaking free of such feeble attempts. It speaks to the sense that evolution is an unstoppable force, tying into Alan’s evolution from selfish paleontologist to caregiver. Accepting evolution then should be mankind’s goal, not trying to impose its will against it.

The film could use some work in terms of the characters and their relationships. Alan, the central character of the film who has an arc, is rather bland. His refusal to evolve into a parent feels kind of shoe-horned into the story to give him some depth and something deeper to do other than try not to be eaten. Perhaps if he and Ellie had tried to have children or couldn’t or there was some reason he felt insecure around them it would tie into the narrative a bit more. But as it happens, Hammond is a much more interesting character: a joyful billionaire who slowly realizes he may have gone mad in his pursuit of creating dinosaurs.

The love triangle between Malcolm, Ellie and Alan is also lacking. It’s just played for a few laughs in the first half, but could have been expanded into more of Alan’s evolution. Perhaps Malcolm is an old boyfriend of Ellie’s that she still has some feelings for. Then Alan’s refusal to have kids and evolve for her would have added weight as she could easily go back to Malcolm who will give her what she wants. But as it plays, Malcolm is more of just an annoyance rather than an integral part of the plot. Cut him out and nothing drastically changes in the plot.

And finally, the ending lacks clear choice. The third act climax should feature the protagonist making a clear choice that illustrates what he has learned over the course of his journey. In this case, that should be Alan, demonstrating his ingenuity. But the film’s ending takes him out of the equation as the T. Rex bursts in and kills the raptors, a deus ex machina, fate saving them rather than Alan. A conclusion that featured Alan saving the day would have been easy enough. Using his smarts as a paleontologist and some piece of knowledge gathered in the park with Lexi and Tim, Alan devises a way to trick the raptors and the Rex and helps everyone escape, proving his mettle as a parent by putting his life on the line to save Lexi and Tim.

Where the film falls in character though, its ability to create awe and build up its action sequences is impeccable, really putting the audience in the park and highlighting its theme to optimal effect.

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“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

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CHARACTERS

Protagonist: Bruce
Desire Conscious: Stop crime in Gotham
Unconscious:
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
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner:
Personal: Mob bosses, Batman
Extra-Personal: Gotham city, order
Character Characterization: Crazed killer
True Character: Anarchist mastermind
Turn:
Harvey
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
Gordon
Desire Conscious: Stop crime in Gotham
Unconscious:
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:
Turn:
Rachel
Desire Conscious: Choose a lover
Unconscious:
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:
Turn:
Lucius
Desire Conscious: Help Bruce
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner: Moral qualms
Personal: Bruce, Reese
Extra-Personal: Crime, Gotham
Character Characterization: CEO tech guru
True Character:
Turn:
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
Alfred
Desire Conscious: Help Bruce
Unconscious:
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.

PLOT

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

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HERO’S JOURNEY

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
CROSSING FIRST THRESHOLD Batman abducts Lao
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

ARCHETYPES

HERO Bruce
SHADOW Joker
MENTOR Alfred
ALLY Gordon
HERALD Joker
THRESHOLD GUARDIAN Lao
TRICKSTER Joker
SHAPESHIFTER Harvey

THEMES

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.

STORYLINES

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

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SCENE BREAKDOWN

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
TP
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
Antagonist
TP
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
Antagonist
TP
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.

OVERALL

“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.

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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.

Themes:

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:

Jack

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.

Elizabeth

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.

Barbossa

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.

Norrington

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.

Themes:

  • 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.

Conclusion:

“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.

Critical Review: X-Men: First Class (2011)

 

MV5BMTg5OTMxNzk4Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTk1MjAwNQ@@._V1_SX640_SY720_ X-Men: First Class (2011) is almost universally lauded as a great X-Men film by critics and audiences. It re-energized the moribund X-Men franchise from the horror of X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), brought aboard several new mutants and star actors and revealed the origins of Charles Xavier, Erik Lehnsherr and Raven Darkholme. Despite this critical esteem however, there are some major flaws in the film ranging from basic storytelling failures to tonal range issues to subplot over exuberance. I believe that a large part of the goodwill bestowed on the film is due to the poor quality of its predecessors (and they really were terrible) and not on the actual quality of the storytelling presented here, which I believe to be subpar at best. Here is how X-Men: First Class fails to deliver and some details into the story that should have been.

 

  1. Trying to Accomplish Too Much Too Fast

 

The concept of the film is great. The formation of the X-Men, starting with a young Charles Xavier and a young Erik Lehnsherr, set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis. If the film were indeed just this concept, the movie could have really succeeded as a character study between two men and their contrasting views on human nature. Instead, the film attempts to fill in nearly six subplots not directly tied to this natural character bond, including a relationship between Beast and Mystique, the Hellfire Club, interactions with the CIA, a familial bond between Charles and Mystique, Erik hunting Nazis and trying to avenge his mother’s death, and a whole crew of new mutants getting to know each other. When you toss in this many different subplots into a two-hour feature, things start to become muddled, and you lose the focus of what should be the main plot: the relationship of Charles and Erik and how their friendship evolves. Not that these plots can not be insinuated over the course of the film, but they take up so much screentime that Charles and Erik do not even meet until nearly 40 minutes into the film. Setting their relationship front and center would have given the film a strong foothold.

 

  1. An Overabundance of Sebastian Shaw

 

Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw is the principal point of story action, and his agenda of setting the United States and the Soviet Union on a course for war takes over the film. This keeps the viewer from truly emotionally engaging with Charles and Erik since they don’t act as true protagonists. They are always reacting to Shaw and his actions instead of pursuing their own desires. With Shaw driving the story, the film essentially becomes his story rather than Charles and Erik and pulls focus off of them. Tying into this point, Bacon’s Shaw is incredibly one-dimensional, a less empathetic Magneto that does not add anything in terms of dynamism.

 

  1. Tone Deaf

The tone of the film is all over the place. At one moment, we could be watching brutal Nazi concentration camps, the next boring political dialogue in the CIA. We go from comically maniacal villain plans to abrupt murders of government agents. We go from comical montages of mutants learning their powers to James Bond-esque infiltrations intro Russia. With so many story elements pulling us in different directions tonally, the result is a general feeling of emotional mush, the funny not being funny, suspenseful not being suspenseful and horrific being over the top.

 

  1. A Lack of Visual Style

 

Filmmaking is known for the visual style of its directors and production designers, highlighting the use of camera angles and shot designs to effectively show a story rather than just film a script. Director Matthew Vaughn does not really seem to have a visual style to the film.

Almost all shots are shot in the same balance of lighting, nothing too dark, no shadows really illuminated. Shots are not used to highlight strength or unease or tension within a scene, just showing the characters, their dialogue and then continuing on. Indeed, at many times it feels like sitcom feeling, letting the actors dictate the scene rather than the direction. A stronger visual style would help further show the story rather than just have it carry on from beat to beat without emotion as it does.

 

How could the story have been then? The film makes mention of the world just beginning to learn about mutation, but this point could serve as the basis of action for the story.

In the beginning, Charles does not understand the voices in his head, the strange feelings of the burgeoning of his powers. As he grows up, he finds Raven, frightened and alone, and we see (see, not told) her abused by people who do not understand her. Seeing their similarities, Charles takes her in, and raises her as kin. He delves into research for both of them (the film glosses over this detail, but it is vital to show us how Xavier became Xavier) and learns about mutation. All the while, he learns to master his own powers, challenging himself to go even farther with his ability and teaching Raven to do the same. At the same time, he offers her a family relationship which she did not have before.

Meanwhile, Erik’s backstory is pretty well set in the film and not much needs to be changed. Trapped in a Nazi concentration camp, he witnesses the death of his family. As his powers emerge, he fails to escape, always living in the shadow of death. After the war, anger overwhelms him, and he witnesses more devastation at the hands of the Soviets. His anger allows him to channel his powers and exact vengeance. He hunts down Nazis, however he believes that he is the only one with powers, a messenger of God, giving him a great ego.

The two men meet by circumstance. In the comics, they meet in Israel, and there is no reason for that not to work in film as well with all kinds of Biblical and symbolic representation inherent. Charles is glad to meet another with gifts after so long, knowing that more of their kind is out there, and Erik sees himself as part of some master solution, an emissary of a race of beings who will finally bring the world stability.

The two men discuss mutation, and the world as they see it. Charles tries to break Erik’s wall of hatred, but Erik shows Charles the evil of the world through mind readings. Charles however, perseveres, and Erik agrees to help Charles with his studies.

They resolve to provide a haven for mutants, each understanding that the world is not ready to accept them, and in conjunction, build Cerebro with Raven’s help. Through all of this, Raven is intrigued by Erik, attracted to him both physically and mentally.

With Cerebro, Xavier is able to find several mutants (as he does in the film) and bring them to his old mansion. The difference here is that each of the mutants he finds is trapped in some form or another (through prejudice, fear or some other societal constraint) because of prejudice, and their fears over their own powers. Charles and Erik are then able to help them and start the X-Men.

You can tell that the main genesis of the plot for the most part is present in how I see the film. The story just becomes much stronger when Shaw is taken out of the story arc and replaced by Charles and Erik’s own actions. They drive the plot and hints of the subplots can then take their rightful places. Raven can have a fling with Beast who, despite Charles’ insistence on accepting himself, messes with his DNA and turns himself blue, Erik and Charles can mentor a young group of mutants with diverse powers and serve as a kind of parental relationship to them and the Hellfire Club can emerge as an antagonist (perhaps through a mystery of Charles sensing a group of evil mutants who plan to destroy the world and needing to discover who they are, thus sending the X-Men out on their first journey).

After the X-Men fail at this first mission, being defeated by the Hellfire Club, Charles and Erik’s relationship is put to the test. Erik blames their failure on Charles’ unwillingness to destroy his enemies while Charles blames Erik’s rash behavior getting them in trouble. While the two spar, the Hellfire Club prepares to unleash their plan in Cuba to destroy the world. They rush to stop them.

The conclusion would then feature the team of ragtag mutants up against the Club (as it does in the film). The X-Men defeat the Hellfire Club but only because Magneto gives in to his hatred and murders Shaw, accidentally paralyzing Charles in the process. Xavier and Lehnsherr split as they do in the film, the X-Men splitting with them, each drawn to different philosophies.

You can tell that a lot of this is already in the film, it just needed to be brought to the forefront. With just a few changes, the film could have been a great X-Men experience, but because of some design flaws, remains just a so-so feature.