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The structure of The Last Jedi

Discussion in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' started by Adam812, Aug 4, 2018.

  1. Adam812

    Adam812 Rebel General

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    It seems every other Star Wars movie can be easily divided into three acts. TLJ is different. I have a hard time figuring out how to separate this movie into three acts.

    Last time I watched it I decided that Act II begins about when the Canto Bight mission starts and Luke begins teaching Rey the lessons. And Act III begins right after the Yoda scene. But that makes a really long third act.
    You could also say that Act III begins after the Holdo maneuver. But that makes a really long middle act.

    Is there a better way to divide the move into three acts? Does it even matter?
     
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  2. NinjaRen

    NinjaRen Supreme Leader

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    Most movies follow the structure of three acts:
    Act I - the beginning and set up of the adventure. You are (re-)introduced to the characters, there is the inciting incident which starts the main plot etc.
    Act II - this is the most important part of every story. The hero(es) has (have) to face challenges, tests, enemies by the help of allies. Only by doing that he (they) can reach the goal and grow as a character.
    Act III - the final (battle) which resolves and ties together everything. The enemie is defeated or the problem is dealt with. The hero(es) is (are) a new and much wiser person etc.

    TLJ follows this pattern, but Rian Johnson also added a fourth act. Yes, this is quite uncommon but it can happen.

    Act I - Attack of the Resistance Base by the FO, Finn's "awakening", Rey's meeting with Luke, Kylo and Snoke
    Act II - the parallel storylines of Canto Bight, Rey's training with Luke and her connection with Kylo. As you already mentioned this act ends with Yoda and Luke watching the burning force tree.
    Act III - this act starts bad. Every effort made by the heroes fail (quite common for SW movies. haha). Usually the movie would have ended after the throne room battle, at least if you follow the Three-Act-Structure, but it doesn't. This were act IV starts.
    Act IV - the battle of Crait. The interesting thing about act IV, it only focus on Luke Skywalker. Everything else or respectively everyone has already fulfilled their duties and character developments by the end of act III.
     
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  3. LadyMusashi

    LadyMusashi Archwizard Woo-Woo-in-Chief
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    The movie doesn't have to follow III act structure.

    I don't have time now to contribute but @Jayson has a wonderful thread that can help this discussion. It's a long read, but it's worth it.
     
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  4. srg

    srg Force Attuned

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    Yeah, TLJ clearly has 4 acts. This is how I see this:

    Act I - Ends with Luke agreeing to give Rey 3 lessons. The following scene ("Leia is unconscious") is almost like "Previously on..." which makes it feel like a perfect beginning of the next chapter.
    Act II - Ends with the Yoda's scene.
    Act III - Ends with "Long live Supreme Leader"
    Act IV - The Battle of Crait.

    Act II is pretty packed, but I, III and IV are quite similar in terms of length. I think it all works well this way. I don't feel like the film suffers from not following the standard structure.
     
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  5. Pawek_13

    Pawek_13 Jedi General

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    Let's start with this video that explains what three-act structure is:


    The Last Jedi is a three-act story with Rey as the protagonist, with Finn and Poe as two other leads. and this may provide some confusion over whether it has three acts or not. This is how TLJ does follow this structure (some specifics may be differing from wha:
    1. Point of attack - the D'Qar base is being evacuated and Rey goes on Ahch-To to find Luke.
    2. Inciting incident - well, we defeated the First Order but with great losses and Luke tells "It's time for the Jedi to end" and doesn't want to teach Rey.
    3. Lock In - Poe organizes the mutiny and Luke decides to teach Rey. End of Act I.
    4. Sequence 3 - from the first lesson to the first flashback and Finn and Rose get to Canto Bight.
    5. Sequence 4 - Finn and Rose meet DJ, Rey has the other lesson and goes to the Dark side cave.
    6. Midpoint - oh no, Luke wanted to kill Kylo! I guess maybe I can save Kylo.
    7. Sequence 5 - Poe overthrows Holdo. Snoke and Rey talk.
    8. Sequence 6 - the Raddus gets attacked. Rose and Finn are about to get executed. Rey learns who her parents are and Kylo decides to rule the Galaxy.
    9. Main culmination - the Holdo manouvre! Skywalkers' saber is destroyed!
    10. Sequence 7 - battle of Crait.
    11. Twist in act III - oh, wait. Luke appears!
    12. Sequence 8/climax - Luke and Kylo fight. The Resistance runs away.
    13. Resolution - Luke dies. The Resistance escapes.
    There's some room for argument for what actually constitutes these sequences bu the point still holds - TLJ is a three-act film. The sequences in it are simply longer. Also, there's a distinct change in geography after the midpoint, as most of the action takes place on the Supremacy, but it doesn't change the fact that they are still there.

    PS. Oh, another thing that probably creates this whole "four-act" thing - the death of Snoke. If you really look intot the narrative of the film, his death is not really that important. Sure, it's an "epic" moment, but from a narrative standpoint it is just a threshold between Sequence 5 and 6.
     
    #5 Pawek_13, Aug 4, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2018
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  6. Rellum

    Rellum Rebelscum

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    Acts usually end with major decisions by characters. An example of an unusually long first act is I Am Legend. That first act doesn't end until the dog dies and Will Smiths character the decides to change his whole plan and goes on the offensive if I remember correctly. His character made a decision that is a reaction and a driver of the story.
     
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  7. cawatrooper

    cawatrooper Jedi General

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    I think it's tempting to think of the Throne Room scene as an Act III occasion, but I'd disagree.

    This film is tough because we have a ton of characters all spread across the galaxy with different goals (not to mention the relative difficulty of structuring one film that is only part of a saga), but from a traditional film analysis, I'd see it as focusing on the main thread the whole time- the fight for survival of the Resistance.

    Act 1
    Reintroduction of characters, picking back up on Ach-to, etc.

    We have a few threads at this point, so one might argue that there could multiple plot points and Inciting Incidents, but again, this is a more focused take. I'd consider the Inciting Incident to be the arrival of the First Order fleet at D'Qar.

    I'd consider Plot Point 1, and the end of the first Act, to be the realization that the First Order has hyperspace tracking.

    Act 2

    Here, we've got a shift in the story. Holdo is in command, Leia is wounded, and Poe/Finn/Rose have their own mission.
    I'm curious if there's any sort of shift in Luke's story around here as well- guess I'll have to watch the film again :p

    I'd consider Plot Point 2 to be the Holdo Maneuver/evacuation of the Raddus. The Resistance has not yet fully escaped, and are perhaps more vulnerable than ever, but they're headed to Crait for their last stand.

    Act 3

    Everything at Crait. Here we have the Resistance's apparent last stand. Poe learns to keep a cooler head. Rose and Finn's relationship becomes apparent. Rey embraces her role as a Jedi, and so does Luke.

    Everything comes to its conclusion here.
     
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  8. Adam812

    Adam812 Rebel General

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    Me neither. It makes it different than every other Star Wars movie. Not a bad thing.
    TLJ also has flashback scenes. Also
    something we haven’t seen in a SW saga movie.
     
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  9. srg

    srg Force Attuned

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    And it worked very well. I've never understood why some people claimed flashbacks don't belong in Star Wars.

    It's fascinating that Rian considered including a more elaborate flashback that would show Luke and Ben training. Would be so cool to see it, but I understand that what he ended up doing worked better for the film. I'm wondering if J.J. will use flashbacks for some fan service involving Luke in IX. Could happen the same way - during his conversation with Rey.
     
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  10. Rellum

    Rellum Rebelscum

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    If you want to see where the acts end you you need to look at character not plot. You are basically on the right track but TLJ is an assemble piece the main protagonists all have their own three act journeys which basically align with the plot points you outline.

    The three protagonists are as I see them Luke, Poe and Finn. They are the only characters that make decisions that change their lives and give character growth.

    First act ends around when the Resistance first works out they can't use hyperspace I think(I don't want to go back and check this stuff)

    Finn meets Rose and goes from wanting to do a runner to deciding to help the Resistance
    Poe has to change his plan when he can't use his X-Wing anymore. You could also argue it is when Leia gets spaced and he has to deal with new management but that is still part of him having to learn how to lead out of an X-Wing

    Luke sees Rey's force power and decides to train her.

    Second act ends during the Battle of Crait.

    Finn decides to go kamikaze, still not sure why and it is not a great change at all.

    Poe makes a choice to retreat, showing that he has learned about leadership and changed him path as a character.

    Luke decides to come out of exile and help the resistance, I will say this starts around when he is chatting to Yoda.
     
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