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The Tarantino Structure

Okay, I know Joseph Mankiewicz is a name I throw around many, many, times - but let’s get this out. Joe Mankiewicz is without a doubt THE most underrated filmmaker in the history of movies! He is a poet lauret of the screenplay, in fact I believ cinema could not have survived without a guy like Joe! Let’s put his structure in perspective. We all know the rules established by Aristotle, about the functions of plot, etc.

Now the conventional framework for a movie is the usual beginning, middle, and end. That never changes. However, when a film starts in medias res, like Reservoir Dogs, you can’t help but to wonder how this structure form originated in cinema. Note: I said in CINEMA.

Well I’ve been thinking, the first film that uses a form of analepsis is Citizen Kane, which wa written by Herman Mankiewicz. If you look closely the structure has 5 - count them FIVE bodies of dramatic structure:

1)news reel (prologue) What is Rosebud?


3) Joe Cotton

4)Dorothy Comingore

5)Butler (epilogue)

So there’s a framework of five stories that comprise the entire narrative. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, like the movie refrences.

Now this framework also holds for All About Eve, A Letter To Three Wives, and The Barefoot Contessa. They all have 5 episodes that comprise a whole. All About Eve for instance goes from:

1)Sarah Siddons opening (prologue)

2)KarenRichards remembers Eve

3)Margo Channing

4)Addison DeWitt played by the one and only George Sanders

5)Epilogue (Phoebe is the new Eve)

So the stories carry one another. Which brings me to Tarantino. His structure derives from the films but they’re tweaked. See, they exists as a unit. They’re like min-movies that comprise a whole. He uses five segements of story telling like the great Mankiewicz brothers did.

The way he structured Basterds was incredible, it felt like a zigzag. The first chapter although you may not know, is really about Shoshanna, just as much as it’s Christoph’s scene. She’s an invisible presence, throughout that entire scene she is under those floor boards, in sheer terror - so in essence, I consider that to be her chapter, just as much as it is for Christoph. See, there’s two chapters for Shoshanna and two chapter for the Basterds. And the final and fifth chapters, clashes everything into one neat bundle.

The HILARIOUS part is that the Basterds and Shoshanna never meet! It is Christoph Waltz who serves as the conglomerate for these two elements to function!

I was just thinking, that’s a fucking genius form of structure. I honestly can’t say I’ve seen any other filmmaker shape a movie like that. I appreciate the film even more just by contemplating on that.

want to read more about structure. read this!

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Seacrest out!