Project 15 – Narrative Structure

As you watch films, pay attention to the narrative structure. Try and identify if the film conforms to a three act structure.

If it does, can you pinpoint the beginning of Acts 2 and 3?

Can you identify any other narrative structures? Try to sketch out a diagram of the structure of the film.

In Part four we are learning about how a narrative is constructed. While not every story conforms to these rules, in general, all movies echo this structure.

Act One – this is where we are introduced to the characters and the story. Everything is usually calm until

Act Two – where the protagonists world is flipped upside down and they battle through until

Act Three – where everything is resolved (unless it is a sequel or one of those movies that like to leave the viewer hanging with unanswered questions in their heads.

As a writer, this type of exercise really appeals to me so it was to my great pleasure that I spent the morning re-watching my favourite movie, The Living Daylights. Of all the Bond movies this is my favourite, there isn’t gratuitous violence, the plot is twisting and hard to grasp hold of, the action comes thick and fast, it’s sprinkled with humor, Timothy Dalton plays Bond as Ian Flemming envisaged him in the books and importantly the romance aspect of it is not just based on using sex as a means to get answers. It’s romantic and sweet and you can see that James Bond really cares for Kara. There isn’t even any sexual content which I think was important for this. James Bond is someone you genuinely like in this movie.

Below is my analysis of the movie, I think it is probably too detailed but the plot is hopefully clear. I’ve used a graph to mark the pace of the movie, the blue is gentle and general discourse while the red denotes the action scene. The red and orange are the most extreme action scenes.

Scan 39Scan 38

I did find it hard to determine the beginning of Act Two. It felt like it came in almost immediately. There was brief calmness before we were hurtled into the murder of the OO agent, the car chase and explosion. However, it could also be said that Act Two started when the British Intelligence help Koskov defect. The more I look at movies the more I think that there is almost another act, for a Disney example in Finding Nemo the beginning starts where Marlin and his wife the clownfish and waiting for their children to hatch when they are eaten and Marlin’s wife is killed, thus sealing Marlin’s character. However, it could be said that Act Two begins when Nemo disobeys his father, goes into the open sea and is captured by the scuba diving dentist. However the start could just be named the Prologue, as with James Bond or just as it’s named, the Cold Open ensuring the viewer is glued to the screen and unable to stop watching.

The start of Act three though was again difficult to pinpoint. Was it when they escaped all the explosions and drove off in the car. Or perhaps more likely when the arms dealer was killed and Kara was playing in the orchestra.


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