Three-Act Structure is a way of structuring a movie, stage play or novel that can be found in many stories (and even some songs). It helps the audience orienting themselves in the storyline and keeps their interest.
Act I (the Setup) is used to hook the audience and introduce the protagonist, the antagonist and the major conflict/problem/mission of the story. It also establishes the locale and the mood and conventions of the story. Act I takes up approx. 1/4th of the story.
Act II (the Confrontation) forms the main part of the story and takes up at least half of the entire story. Here, the protagonist finds himself in a cycle of struggles and complications on his way to the solution to the original problem.
In Act III (the Resolution) the conflict/problem is solved and the story comes to a narrative closure. This takes up a maximum of 1/4th of the story.
What do we fight for if there is no-one to fight against?
Art is dead.
That statement may be a little bit exaggerated, but art is certainly not what it was. But what is different? What is the difference between Kim Kardashian’s Selfish (2014) and Pablo Picasso’s Guernica (1937)? What is the difference between John Kahrs’ Paperman (2012) and Jan Švankmajer’s Leonardův deník (Leonardo’s Diary, 1972)? Between Lars von Trier’s Melancholia (2011) and Idioterne (Idiots, 1998)?
You may say I am exaggerating again (and I am), but there is a difference. Art used to be a rebellion. Art used to shock, to confront, to provoke, to fight. I am not saying that there are no artists out there today, because there are, but the public does not care (about their messages).
Will Hollywood eventually follow Rome’s downfall?
The parallels between the Roman and the Hollywood Empire are, once you look for them, very obvious. When the American film started in the early 20th century, traveling tents showing a limited range of movies were rapidly replaced by dedicated movie houses with an ever changing portfolio. The human capitalist realized there was big money hidden that just needed to be harvested. While across the pond, the European lacerated each other during World War 1 (and not short thereafter: World War 2), business flourished in California. It took a mere three centuries until in 1950 Hollywood was split into the big Populus and the small, ruling Senat (nowadays known as the Majors): 70% of all box office was owned by the Big Five; another 25% by the Little Three. In 1938, 19 of the 25 highest salaries in America were paid in the film industry.
There was a lot of money and it got used to produce even more (e.g. Ben-Hur, Quo Vadis or Gone with the Wind).
The depicted violence in Cidade de Deus (City of God, Meirelles & Lund) – whether within the city or within its characters – gets explained in a variety of different ways but is ultimately presented as something beyond comprehension or escape. While at some points motives are suggested, they appear insufficient to account for the pervasiveness and level of violence. Additionally, all articulated alternatives to violence get eventually undermined.
Explicit violence can be an aesthetic tool; it can be shocking, educational or simply entertaining. How much responsibility does a filmmaker have towards society when depicting violence in a film?