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CT Act Breaks in A New Hope?

Discussion in 'Classic Trilogy' started by Padme's Love Slave, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. Padme's Love Slave

    Padme's Love Slave Jedi Knight star 1

    Apr 16, 2013
    I'm having difficulty placing the act breaks in A New Hope and I'm curious as to what everyone else thinks.

    The end of Act I is either...

    Luke deciding to go with Obi-Wan after discovering his Aunt and Uncle have been killed.


    The Han/Greedo scene as it finishes establishing one of our main characters.

    As for the end of Act II, I can't decide if it's before or after the Tie Fighter attack.
  2. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Force Ghost star 9

    Sep 2, 2012
    William Shakespeare's Star Wars has its own Act breaks. This is what they correspond to:

    Act 1- from the intro, to Owen's "That's what I'm afraid of", and Luke looking out at Tatooine's suns.
    Act 2- from Threepio telling Luke that Artoo's gone missing, to Ben telling Luke "there was nothing you could have done" after the Larses death, and Luke's "I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like my father"
    Act 3- from the arrival at Mos Eisley Spaceport to the capture by the Death Star's tractor beam
    Act 4- from the Falcon being reported as captured, to Ben being killed by Vader, and Luke & co fleeing
    Act 5- from Leia commiserating with Luke over Ben's death, to the award ceremony
    Darth Dnej likes this.
  3. Darth_Nub

    Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Apr 26, 2009
    Just off the top of my head, I would think that it goes like this:

    Act 1 - Start of film up to the Millennium Falcon leaving Mos Eisley

    Act 2 - our heroes on-board the Falcon through to the escape from the Death Star, at which point Tarkin mentions that there's a homing beacon planted on the Falcon

    Act 3 - the Falcon arrives at Yavin through to the end of the film

    I don't think it's any more complicated than that.
    Act 1 - Tatooine
    Act 2 - space/Death Star
    Act 3 - Yavin/Death Star Battle
  4. oierem

    oierem Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2009
    Agreed. Plus, a short "independent" prologue at the beginning of the film.
  5. MOC Vober Dand

    MOC Vober Dand Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jan 6, 2004
    I'd say it's based on where Luke is.

    1. Tatooine
    2. Falcon / DS
    3. Battle of Yavin
  6. Beezer

    Beezer Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 5, 2013
    The first act ends as the Falcon pulls into the Death Star.
    The second act ends as the Falcon arrives at Yavin IV.
  7. CT1138

    CT1138 Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 4, 2013
    Same with me. The way I see it, it goes:

    Act I: Opening - Falcon Escapes the Star Destroyers

    Act II: Falcon Enters Hyperspace - Falcon Escapes the Death Star
    Act III: Falcon defends against TIE Fighters - Close.
  8. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Jan 3, 2013
    Not everything needs to neatly break down into three acts, you know.
  9. Darth_Nub

    Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Apr 26, 2009
    SW/ANH does, though.

    That doesn't mean that GL sat down and deliberately plotted out a three-act structure, though. The three-act structure is merely an analytical construct applied to basic storytelling - one which is proven largely after the fact.

    It doesn't necessarily mean that anything is better or worse for a story having conformed to such a model. However, if a storyline DOESN'T work, one might argue that diverging from such a model extremely might be to blame for it failing to engage viewers/audiences.

    I've yet to decide completely whether or not the PT fails in this regard - personally I think it does fail with Act II, as the supposed peril it places its actual protagonists in (rather than the entire galaxy) isn't strong enough to drive the next Act. It's all up to the next Act to re-establish the peril and carry it along. Which it does - but.

    Would have worked better if there was more connection with what was going on in the previous episodes - as it does with the OT. Luke's journey to becoming a Jedi progresses and is addressed as it should, as does the romance between Han & Leia - partly by separating Luke.
    It's all resolved in ROTJ, with everything else merely background galactic filler. Darth Vader's redemption is merely a setup for a trilogy of films which may or may not ever be made.

    Very glib summary, but that's pretty much what the scenario was in 1983. Han gets the girl, Luke gets to be a Jedi Knight, same as the father he idolised, who redeems himself by killing the Wicked Witch the Emperor.

    The End. See you at Indy 3 when we get it done.
    Nenim Chela likes this.
  10. Beezer

    Beezer Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 5, 2013
    True, but the reason why so many movies break down into 3 acts is because that formula works so well. Act 1: We meet the characters and are introduced to the problem. Act 2: Problems occur, tension rises. Act 3: Climax and resolution.

    Now it is interesting to note that an individual movie can break down into 3 acts, or you can look at the entire PT or entire OT as 3 acts. Heck, I'd say if we broke all 6 movies down into 3 acts, Act 1 would be E1, Act 2 would be E2 and E3 and Act 3 would be E4, E5 and E6. Although, arguably, those would fit better as 4 acts where E6 was the 4th act and final resolution.
  11. Count Yubnub

    Count Yubnub Jedi Master star 4

    Oct 1, 2012
    I think that the boundaries between "acts" can be a bit vague. I'd say that the beginning of act II is when Luke accepts his adventure ("I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like my father"), but apparently other people feel that the boundary comes a bit later. Thus, we have a bit of a grey zone there.

    Another dramatic structure--usually in classic Greek or Shakespearean tragedies--is the five-point structure. ROTS has a very clear 5-point structure. And there's a shadow of it in ESB.
  12. Beezer

    Beezer Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 5, 2013
    That never occurred to me but I think you have an excellent point. There is definitely a tonal shift in the movie once you transition from that final scene at the Lars Homestead to the bluffs overlooking Mos Eisley. At that point of the movie we still haven't met a couple major characters - i.e. Han and Chewie (and Garindan ;) ) - but there is definitely a transition where the hero leaves his old world and goes into a new one (figuratively speaking; I realize he hasn't left the planet yet but he has definitely left home).
    Count Yubnub likes this.
  13. Darth_Nub

    Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Apr 26, 2009
    Yeah, agree with both of you here. As far as not having met Han & Chewie yet, that's not entirely important, as they're supporting characters we meet along the way. It's Luke's story.

    My own breakdown above does seem to fit, but upon reflection, I think that was me trying make it appear a bit neater than it really is. The planetary location doesn't really matter, and Mos Eisley might as well be a different world to Luke's home (Lars homestead, Anchorhead) anyway, as emphasised by Luke's entry into the cantina.

    Act II does still end at the exact point where Tarkin says "I'm taking an awful risk, Vader. This had better work."
    Count Yubnub likes this.

    DARTHLINK Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Feb 24, 2005
    Shakespeare would have broken it down into his usual five acts.

    Act I- We're introduced to Luke, Leia, and Vader and get the basic of the plot.
    Act II- Alderaan blows up, Vader talks about finding the Rebel Base. Luke agrees to go train to be a Jedi, and they go find Han.
    Act III- Han and the others leave to the Death Star. Death Star stuff happens, and they leave.
    Act IV- Death Star Battle.
    Act V- Resolution.

    Le' fin! Exunt!
  15. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Force Ghost star 9

    Sep 2, 2012
    "William Shakespeare's Star Wars" does use 5 acts, as I mentioned before- but the breakdown is different.
  16. Count Yubnub

    Count Yubnub Jedi Master star 4

    Oct 1, 2012
    AFAIK, in a 5-point structure, the central bit (climax/turning point) is the part where the protagonist makes a key decision that determines the rest of the play.

    I haven't read that. How is the breakdown?
  17. Nenim Chela

    Nenim Chela Jedi Padawan star 1

    Oct 2, 2013
    As GL himself states on the commentary track to ANH, the script to Episode IV wasn't conventional or beholden to any one-size-fits-all-script formula, in that it doesn't introduce the protagonist--namely Luke Skywalker until 15-20 minutes into the story. Completely unheard of these days.
  18. Darth Eddie

    Darth Eddie Jedi Master star 4

    May 14, 2013
    1- The Establishment: opening titles until after binary sunset scene
    2- Getting the Band Together: search for R2 until escape into hyperspace
    3- Into the Dragon's Den: up until the rescue of leia and the garbage masher
    4- Outta the Dragon's Den: rest of the death star sequence plus the TIE battle
    5- The Finale: figure it out.

    All other analyses are inaccurate.