Raiders of the Lost Ark Script
As any normal screenplay consultant would do, I decided to record some thoughts about the power of Story Mapping Raiders of the Lost Ark while driving on the 405 and 101 South to the first annual Inktip Pitch Summit in the Universal Hilton in Los Angeles.
Raiders of the Lost Ark is my favorite film of all time but it took me years to understand that seemingly “soft” climax that finds Indiana Jones closing his eyes while the Ark of the Covenant does all the work for him in laying waste to the Nazis. Action heroes don’t just close their eyes and let biblical chick-demons take out the enemy, do they?
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It wasn’t until I created a Story Map for Raiders of the Lost Ark that I truly understood how the screenwriters pulled off this advanced technique. Please bear with me and don’t act like Uncle Danny and flip cam and drive…
I encourage you to write Story Maps for your favorite films to unlock the structure and craftsmanship that makes them work so well.
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Go to PART II: The structure behind the ending of THE SIXTH SENSE
Good luck and happy writing!
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Nice analysis. Reminds me of a similar revelation I had about Jaws a while back. So many people think the ending of Jaws is a deus ex machina, but it’s all set up: when Brody is flipping through the book, he comes across a photo of a shark with a tank in its mouth, and when he gets on board the Orca and knocks over the tanks, Hooper warns him they could explode.
I would argue that when the shark breaks into the cabin of the boat during the climax, and Brody sees the tank, he formulates a plan, which is borne out when he’s shooting at the shark later and mutters “C’mon, show me the tank.” He put together 2 pieces of evidence and came up with an ad hoc plan to kill the shark. Incidentally, I would also argue that he drew on skills he honed while in the police force in the city, where he likely found himself in situations where he had to think fast and pull together past pieces of information to come up with a new way to react to a situation.
Also, it’s interesting to note that he does all this after Quint and Hooper fail. Quint represents the Old Ways of doing things, while Hooper represents the New Ways. Both fail, because the shark isn’t any ordinary shark: it’s like Moby Dick or Faulkner’s bear, an otherworldly creature that can’t be killed via conventional means. So Brody must use an unconventional method to kill it.
Nice comments, Brad. I haven’t mapped JAWS but I’d say the moment when Brody sees the tank probably represents his “True Point of No Return,” which is one of crucial story beats in my Story Maps method (here’s an example in the Story Map for The Matrix). One of the characteristics of this beat is that the Protagonist formulates the “Method of Defeat” that will conquer the Antagonist and allow them to achieve their External Goal.
Good luck and Happy Writing!
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