The Matrix (1999)

Genre
Sci-Fi / Action
Written By
Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Logline
A young computer hacker discovers that our world is a virtual reality, created by intelligent machines to enslave Mankind. Now, he must join humanity's fight against the machines, and accept his new role as leader of the resistance.
Why break it down?
Remember back when you didn't even know what three-act structure was? When you could watch 'Rocky' and 'The King's Speech' back-to-back and live blissfully unaware that you'd just watched the same movie twice in a row? Hell, in a way I'm still there; I've seen each of those films a dozen times, and despite the fact that I recognize the similar plot points, I love each one for completely different reasons. To me, they're still two unique movies with their own original stories, which is the beauty of understanding how to structure a film; you can have the mold in front of you, but it's what you fill that mold with that makes your story great. So this week, we're going back to basics, breaking down one of the cleanest examples of three-act structure to come out in the last decade: Andy and Lana Wachowski's sci-fi masterpiece, The Matrix.

Beat for beat, THE MATRIX IS A DEFINITIVE BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING THREE-ACT STRUCTURE. They teach it in film school and they do so for a reason; it's exciting, emotionally resonant, and it hits every single plot point exactly where it's supposed to (give or take a few pages, of course).

So read up, keep an eye out for the beats, and we'll look at the film's structure after the jump. (Click the [+] button for a summary of each scene.)

ACT I
00:00 - 01:30 (1.50 pages) [+]⇣ OPENING EXPOSITION
01:30 - 06:30 (5.00 pages) [+]
06:30 - 09:45 (3.25 pages) [+]INCITING INCIDENT
09:45 - 12:00 (2.25 pages) [+]
12:00 - 17:00 (5.00 pages) [+]
17:00 - 21:30 (4.50 pages) [+]⇡⇣ PREPARE FOR ADVENTURE
21:30 - 22:30 (1.00 pages) [+]
22:30 - 25:00 (2.50 pages) [+]
25:00 - 32:30 (7.50 pages) [+]PLOT POINT #1

ACT II
32:30 - 35:30 (3.00 pages) [+]
35:30 - 36:45 (1.25 pages) [+]
36:45 - 39:30 (2.75 pages) [+]
39:30 - 44:00 (4.50 pages) [+]
44:00 - 44:30 (0.50 pages) [+]
44:30 - 46:30 (2.00 pages) [+]
46:30 - 48:00 (1.50 pages) [+]
48:00 - 49:15 (1.25 pages) [+]⇡⇣ FUN AND GAMES
49:15 - 53:45 (4.50 pages) [+]
53:45 - 55:00 (1.25 pages) [+]
55:00 - 55:30 (0.50 pages) [+]
55:30 - 56:30 (1.00 pages) [+]
56:30 - 59:00 (2.50 pages) [+]
59:00 - 61:15 (2.25 pages) [+]
61:15 - 63:45 (2.50 pages) [+]
63:45 - 65:15 (1.50 pages) [+]
65:15 - 67:00 (1.75 pages) [+]MIDPOINT REVERSAL
Midpoint
67:00 - 69:15 (2.25 pages) [+]
69:15 - 77:45 (8.50 pages) [+]⇡⇣ ROLL DOWNHILL
77:45 - 91:15 (13.5 pages) [+]
91:15 - 99:15 (8.00 pages) [+]PLOT POINT #2

ACT III
99:15 - 113:00 (13.75 pages) [+]
113:00 - 128:00 (15.0 pages) [+]⇡ CLIMAX
128:00 - 129:30 (1.50 pages) [+]RESOLUTION

Analysis
As I said before, The Matrix is a great movie to look at if you're just starting to learn three-act structure, because each of its plot points is more or less exactly where it should be. Of course, that doesn't mean it's a conventional film; I could talk all day about how it's actually lightyears ahead of ninety percent of other classically structured scripts. But alas, that would be a conversation for a different post (or perhaps a different blog), so as for this breakdown, we're going to stick with what we came here to learn: Three-act structure. Let's take a look at where the plot points in The Matrix show up, and briefly talk about why they are where they are:

Flash-Bang Open [+]
Opening Exposition [+]
Inciting Incident [+]
Prepare For Adventure [+]
Plot Point #1 [+]
Fun and Games [+]
Midpoint Reversal [+]
Roll Downhill [+]
Plot Point #2 [+]
Climax [+]
Resolution [+]

3 comments:

  1. Fantastic analysis, very accurate, I agree with it.
    Good job guys!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for opening the eyes of some "blind" people.

    ReplyDelete