The story structure of “Thor”

In looking at the Cinematography of ‘Thor,” I also broke down the story structure of the film to aid in understanding some of the cinematography decisions:


Act One

Sequence 1 (Will Thor be crowned King?)

The film opens with a teaser: Jane and Darcy (scientists), and Erik (their mentor) are out chasing storms, and hit a man who falls from the sky.   We are then shown exposition that introduces the war Asgard waged to stop the frost giants of Jotunheim, which culminated in Odin (the king of Asgard) taking the Casket, the giant’s source of power.  We also meet Loki and Thor, Odin’s sons.

We finally arrive in Asgard in present day. Thor kneels before Odin to receive the crown.  Just as the is about to be kinged, frost giant intruders attempt to steal the Casket.  Thor wants to “teach them a lesson,” and in response Odin tells Thor that he won’t yet be king.


Sequence 2 (Can Thor “teach the ice giants a lesson?”)

Thor decides (against his fathers explicit wishes) to march into Jotunheim with his friends Sif and the Warriors Three to confront the frost giants.  They talk their way past Heimdall (the gatekeeper) and are transported to Jotunheim (using the Bifrost, a transporter). They confront Laufey, the leader of the the ice giants, and after being taunted, start a brawl.  It culminates when Odin arrives to try to save the former truce, but Laufey says they have gone too far, and wants war. On returning to Asgard, as punishment for his arrogance, Thor is cast down to Earth by his father, made into a human, and separated from Mjolnir, his hammer, which Odin enchants to only be wielded by someone worthy.


Act Two (Can Thor get back to Asgard?)

Sequence 3 (Can Thor find some footing on Earth and form a plan to get back to Asgard?)

We rejoin Jane where we left off in the teaser at the beginning of the film. They hit Thor with their van and end up using a Taser on him when he acts aggressive. He is dropped off at the hospital where he attempts to escape and is again sedated. Mjolnir has landed elsewhere in the desert, and has gained notice by the local populace, as it is totally immobile.  S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson also takes notice. Loki discovers that he is in fact half frost giant, and Odin falls into a sleep after revealing this.  After picking up an escaped Thor, Jane and friends take him to a diner, and he overhears stories about his hammer in the desert.  He now knows that the first step to getting back to Asgard is to get Mjolnir back.


Sequence 4 (Can Thor get his hammer back?)

S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Coulson confiscate Jane’s equipment, citing a “security breach.”  Loki assumes the crown in Asgard in place of an incapacitated Odin.  Meanwhile, Jane takes Thor to the hammer crash site, which has been turned into a quarantine area by S.H.I.E.L.D.  Thor fights his way into the area but is unable to lift his hammer (he “isn’t worthy”).


Sequence 5 (Can Thor learn to accept his exile?)

Thor is captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. Loki visits Thor and lies to him, telling him that his father is dead, that he (Loki) is now king, and forbids Thor’s return.  Erik convinces Coulson to release Thor from the S.H.I.E.L.D. compound.  Thor understands and accepts his exile, and admits that he has no idea what to do now. He bonds with Erik over a night of drinking, and Jane over a campfire.  Meanwhile, Loki proposes to Laufey to kill Odin in exchange for the Casket.


Sequence 6 (Can Thor and friends defeat the Destroyer?)

Unable to defy Loki directly, Sif and the Warriors Three decide to go to Earth to help Thor return. Meanwhile, Loki freezes Heimdall and sends the Destroyer (a huge murderous golem) to Earth to kill Thor.  After a losing battle, in an act of selflessness, Thor offers his life to Loki to save Jane and his Asgardian friends.  As he lays dying, he is finally “worthy” of the hammer, which is summoned to him like a magnet, and defeats the Destroyer.  Heimdall unfreezes himself through force of will, and summons Thor back to Asgard.


Act Three

Sequence 7 (Can Thor stop Loki?)

Loki betrays and murders Laufey and then uses the Bifrost to begin destroying Jotunheim. We finally understand that his entire plot was meant to prove himself to his father. Thor confronts Loki, and manages to incapacitate him.  Left with no alternative, in a final act of self-sacrifice, Thor destroys the bridge, preventing the destruction of Jotunheim, but also separating himself from Jane.  Odin awakes and tries to save his sons from the destruction, but Loki allows himself to fall away.


Sequence 8 (Can Thor reconcile with his father?)

Thor admits to Odin that he still has a “lot to learn,” and that he is not ready to be king.  Meanwhile, back on Earth, Jane searches for a way to reopen the portal to Asgard.



The story structure of “Logan’s Run”

I decided to break down the structure of “Logan’s Run” to help with understanding some of the cinematography decisions.  The third act is rather convoluted, and one could make the argument that it’s all actually one sequence.  However, this is what I took away from it:


First Act

Sequence 1:  We are introduced to the city and to “Carrousel,” where people who have reached the age of thirty burn up while trying to reach a crystal which will give them ‘renewal’.  Logan Five is a “Sandman,” who hunts down ‘runners’ fleeing from Carrousel.  He is partnered with his friend, Francis Seven.  They hunt down a runner, enjoying the whole process, and playfully taunting him before they kill him. (Dramatic question answered: “Will they kill the runner?”)

Sequence 2:  Logan relaxes at home, and brings up a sex-finder service where his partner magically appears.  After an awkward rejection of a man that pops up, Jessica Six appears.  She acts strangely, asking why it’s wrong to run, rejecting his advances, and displaying an odd ankh piece of jewelry.  Logan is intrigued with her.  Later, he goes to the Sandman HQ, and is given an unprecedented mission:  find “Sanctuary,” which is a place outside the city where runners have supposedly escaped to.  The computer also tells him to follow the ankh.   In order to pass as a runner,  Logan’s life-clock is set to terminal, despite the fact that he has several years left.  (This raises the main dramatic question of the second act:  ”Will Logan find Sanctuary?”)


Second Act

Sequence 3:  Logan, wanting his time back, does exactly what the computer asks of him, and asks Jessica (the “ankh”) to help him run.   Logan is alerted to a runner in an area called “the cathedral” and heads there with Jessica Six.  They encounter “cubs,” young misfits, who threaten them.  After scaring them off, they find the runner, and Logan sends her on her way in order to try to earn the trust of Jessica.  Unknown to Logan, Francis sees this.  Logan then heads with Jessica to “New You,” (a plastic surgery shop), to get a face change which will presumably aid him in running.  However, the doctor receives an order to kill Logan, and attacks him with his laser surgery device.  Logan kills the doctor, and then is confronted by Francis.  After a quick scuffle, Logan flees.  (Dramatic question answered: “Can Logan convince Jessica to help him run?”)

Sequence 4:  Francis chases Logan and Jessica through a sex club and finally down to the industrial underbelly of the city. They are stopped by a group of other runners, who consider killing Logan, but are ultimately convinced not to by the doctor’s assistant, who has followed them from the scuffle in “New You.”  (Dramatic question answered: “Can Logan and Jessica escape Francis and make it to the safety of the other runners?”).

Sequence 5:  Just as they find safety among the other runners, Francis and other Sandmen catch up with him, and a firefight breaks out.  Francis tells Logan that “we all go crazy sometimes,” and that if he gives up, all will be forgiven.  Logan rejects the offer, and flees the firefight with Jessica.  The chase resumes through the waterworks of the city.  Logan and Jessica finally ascend a lift to an ice cave, where they encounter Box, a robot who tries to kill them.  They escape and finally ascend to the outside, where they see the sun for the first time.  (Dramatic question answered: “Can Logan and Jessica get out of the city?)

Sequence 6:  Logan and Jessica struggle through the unfamiliar outdoors, and notice that their life-clocks have been deactivated and are now clear.  They arrive in a dilapidated Washington D.C. and encounter an old man inside the U.S. Capitol building.  They find out about the possibility of aging beyond thirty.  Francis catches up with them and takes Jessica hostage, forcing Logan to kill Francis.  They finally realize that there is no Sanctuary.  (Answering the dramatic question of the both the fifth sequence and the second act, “Will Logan and Jessica find Sanctuary?”)


Third Act

Sequence 7:  Logan and Jessica resolve to return to the city and reveal the truth (“You don’t have to die!”) to everyone else.  Logan and Jessica also decide to get pesudo-married, a totally foreign concept to their emotionally limited culture, but something that now seems natural to them.  They arrive in the city and attempt to disrupt Carrousel by preaching the truth, but are apprehended by Sandmen.  (answering the dramatic question: “Can Logan and Jessica convince the city dwellers of the truth by engaging them directly?”)

Sequence 8:  Logan is interrogated by the machine that runs the city, but destroys it when he tells it that there is no Sanctuary.  The city implodes, and the horde of fleeing residents stumbles upon the old man and finally begin to understand the truth about aging and about Carrousel.  (Dramatic question of both the third act and final sequence answered:  ”Can Logan and Jessica enlighten the city dwellers?”).



© 2012 Benjamin Kantor. All rights reserved.