From Library Journal
ThompsonAcoauthor of The Classical Hollywood CinemaAdoesn't agree with current film historians who claim that a "post-classical" style (fragmentary scenes often built around spectacular stunts, stars, and special effects) now dominates American moviemaking. The classical narrative style, a unified narrative of an easily understood chain of cause and effect with a goal-oriented protagonist that was popularized in Hollywood's Golden Age, remains the norm. To prove her point, she analyzes the narrative structure of ten popular films of the 1980sAincluding Amadeus, Alien, Tootsie, and Parenthood. This analysis of individual films forms the bulk of the book. Thompson also takes the opportunity to critique another popular notionAthe three-act pattern predominant in Hollywood screenwriting manuals. She prefers a film structure divided into four parts of roughly equal screen time: the setup, the complicating action, the development, and the climax. Well argued and well presented, this book is recommended for academic and special subject collections.AMarianne Cawley, Charleston Cty. Lib., SC
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Thompson...trespasses on the turf of the screenwriting gurus here, gun in hand, to blast away at the three-act structure universally accepted in the business since Syd Field codified it in his 1979 book Screenplay
. In its place she proposes four acts, sections of roughly equal length which she labels 'setup,' 'complicating action,''development' and 'climax and epilogue.' (Alistair Owen The Independent
It was wonderful to read a book where I felt the writer knew what was going on in my mind while I was directing the film. Kristin Thompson was able to illuminate all the structural twists and turns of the plot, the character development, as well as the small details and symbolic references that directors put into their work, but often go unnoticed by the average moviegoer. (Susan Seidelman, Director Desperately Seeking Susan
Thompson's insightful analysis of Ground Day and of the screenwriting process in general should be fascinating toboth writers and audience alike. More thoughtful writing and more discerning audiences can't help but lead to better movies, and this informative and provocative book is a step in that direction. (Harold Ramis, Director, Ground Day)
How refreshing to encounter a film scholar who understands that, first and foremost, movies must be written. Thompson's book offers an invaluable resource not only to professionals, but to any dedicated moviegoer who wants to better understand the intricate cratf of telling stories on film. (Ted Tally, Screenwriter, The Silence of the Lambs)