Expanding on Act III
Act III is very often divided into two major sequences, and a third, shorter, but important sequence or scene:
1. Getting there (STORMING THE CASTLE)
2. The FINAL BATTLE itself
3. The RESOLUTION and NEW WAY OF LIFE
But you don’t want to drag it out! Keep in mind:
The essence of a third act is the final showdown between protagonist and antagonist.
And it should move quickly to that final battle. By the end of the second act, pretty much everything has been set up that we need to know — particularly who the antagonist is, which sometimes we haven’t known, or have been wrong about, until it’s revealed at the second act climax.
There is often a new, FINAL PLAN that the hero/ine makes that takes into account the new information and revelations. As always with a plan, it’s good to spell it out.
We very often have gotten a sobering or terrifying glimpse of the TRUE NATURE OF THE ANTAGONIST — a great example of that kind of “Nature of the Opponent” scene is in **Chinatown, in that “My sister, my daughter” scene in which Jake is slapping Evelyn and he learns the truth about her father. (It says a lot about Jake, too.)
STORMING THE CASTLE
There’s a locational aspect to the third act: the Final Battle will often take place in a completely different setting than the rest of the film or novel. In fact, half of the third act can be, and often is, just getting to the site of the final showdown.
One of the most archetypal examples of this in movie history is the Storming the Castle scene in *The Wizard of Oz, where, led by an escaped Toto, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion scale the cliff, scope out the vast armies of the witch (“Yo Ee O”), and tussle with three stragglers to steal their uniforms and march in through the drawbridge of the castle with the rest of the army (an example of a PLAN BY ALLIES).
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