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Lecture 8: Departing from the 3 Act Structure

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1 Lecture 8: Departing from the 3 Act Structure
Pulp Fiction (1994) Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary (stories) Quentin Tarantino (Screenplay) Professor Daniel Cutrara 1

2 Previous Lesson The Story Spectrum The Key Factors 2

3 This Lesson Act Design beyond the 3 Act What makes Pulp Fiction work?
Assignments 3

4 Act Design Lesson 8: Part I

5 Departing from the 3 Act Structure
In our last lecture we examined the many ways to depart from the Classic Design of the 3 Act Structure. This week we continue that examination with an analysis of Pulp Fiction. First, however, we want to look at some other alternatives. 5

6 Beyond 3 Acts According to McKee, having more than three acts creates its own set of challenges. Multiplication of Act Climaxes invites cliché. Writer must create more brilliant climax scenes The multiplication of acts reduces the impact of climaxes and results in repetitiousness.

7 It Can Be Done Four Weddings and a Funeral The Girl Next Door
A romantic comedy that progresses from one discreet episode to the next. The Girl Next Door A teen comedy that has multiple twists and reversals. Full Metal Jacket and Life is Beautiful These films are split in half and tell self- contained stories in each part, with the second building on the first. 7

8 Alternative Structures
When you depart from Classical Design/Archplot you must use other elements of storytelling to engage your audience. In our last Lecture we talked about multiplot and nonplot and what makes them work. One strategy we didn’t examine was the work of Sofia Coppola. 8

9 Sofia Coppola Lost in Translation The Virgin Suicides
Character study and immersion into a profound mood. 9

10 What Makes Pulp Fiction Work?
Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary (stories) Quentin Tarantino (Screenplay) Lesson 8: Part II 10 10

11 Quentin Tarantino Pulp Fiction (1994) Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary (stories) Quentin Tarantino (Screenplay) For this lecture we will do a more in depth examination of Pulp Fiction. Our analysis should shed some light on what makes it work. 11

12 Authenticity -- Quentin Tarantino
“A writer should have this little voice inside of you saying, ‘Tell the truth. Reveal a few secrets here’.” -- Quentin Tarantino 12 12

13 Pulp Fiction - The Genre
Black Comedy Satirical critique of gangsters The drug world Pastiche Draws upon the world of film not real life to tell stories Allusions to other films Reworking older storylines 13

14 Mood and Spectacle Pulp Fiction Spectacle
“The film's title refers to the pulp magazines and hardboilded crime novels popular during the mid-20th century, known for their graphic violence and punchy dialogue.” From Wikipedia Spectacle The graphic violence 14

15 Character Characters - the unexpected Hit men - articulate
Drug dealers Boxers Gun Shop owners Pulp Fiction (1994) Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary (stories) Quentin Tarantino (Screenplay) 15

16 Dialogue Stylized Dialogue Discussions over morals and theology
Pushing the envelope Graphic language Pulp Fiction (1994) Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary (stories) Quentin Tarantino (Screenplay) 16

17 The Structure Not the typical 3 Act Structure
Not in chronological order Multiplot Storylines: Jules and Vincent Vincent and Mia Butch and Marsellus Pumpkin and Honey Bunny 17

18 Pulp Fiction -The Structure
Prologue Pumpkin and Honey Bunny begin robbery Sequence 1: “Vincent and Jules” Prelude to “Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace’s Wife” Concern about Mia Collecting the briefcase Elision of the “miracle” Jump forward in time 18

19 Sequence 2 Sequence 2: “Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace’s Wife”
Butch takes money from Marsellus and agrees to lose the fight Vincent and Jules deliver the briefcase to Marsellus The “Date” with Vincent and Mia Back at Vincent’s withstanding the temptation Mia overdoses- the drug dealer’s house The Aftermath- and Mia’s joke 19

20 Sequence 3 Sequence 3: “The Gold Watch”
Flashback- the opening monologue Butch flees the Boxing arena having won Learns in the Taxi that he killed the guy Hooks up with Fabienne, plan to leave town 20

21 Sequence 4 Sequence 4: “Return for the Watch” Jump back in time
Butch kills Vincent Vega Butch vs Marsellus Butch, Marsellus and the Gimp (takes us to chronological end) Jump back in time 21

22 Sequence 5 Sequence 5: “The Bonnie Situation”
“The Miracle” Vincent and Jules survive bullets Returning the briefcase/Marvin shot Calling in the Wolf 22

23 Sequence 6 Sequence 6: “Conversion”
Return to the Diner and the opening tease Vincent stays in the life Jules has a conversion and spares Pumpkin and Honey Bunny, letting them go with the money they’ve stolen 23

24 Pulp Fiction - The Chronology
Day 1 Vincent and Jules collect. Vincent accidentally kills Marvin. They call in the Wolf. At the diner, Jules has his conversion. Vincent escorts Mia to the Club. Day 2 That evening Butch throws the fight and slips back to his motel to make love to Fabienne. Day 3 Butch goes back for his watch and kills Vincent. Butch encounters Marsellus, their fight takes them into the gun shop. The owner captures them. Butch saves Marsellus. They make peace. Butch leaves town with Fabienne. 24

25 The Power of the Structure
The Opening Tease Foreshadowing dilemma with Mia Butch story can be less engaging Keeping Vincent “alive” Saving Conversion for Climax Theme 25

26 Surprise and Suspense Suspense Surprise
Will Vincent succumb to his desire for Mia? Will Butch get away with his scheme? Will Wolf clean up in time? Will Honey Bunny chill out? Surprise Mia’s overdose Vincent’s death The Gun Shop owner Jules’ Conversion 26

27 Mystery The thought puzzle of having to figure out the chronology.
This is also effective in movies like Memento and Donnie Darko. 27

28 Summary When you stray from Archplot and the power of a single protagonist, a linear narrative, and external conflict, something else must compensate. This can be done in many different ways. Through character, dialogue, mood, and alternate structures. 28

29 Assignments Lesson 8: Part III Pulp Fiction (1994)
Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary (stories) Quentin Tarantino (Screenplay) Lesson 8: Part III

30 E-Board Post #1 Complications
Define situations you’ve put in place in Act II and briefly describe ways in which they become complicated and pay off later in the story as opposed to paying off immediately.  30 30

31 E-Board Post #2 Complications
Comment on your peers with respect to ways their situations can develop complications. 31 31

32 End of Lecture 8 Next Lecture: Breaking Through Pulp Fiction (1994)
Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary (stories) Quentin Tarantino (Screenplay) Next Lecture: Breaking Through

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