Yesterday, a commenter asked about how these painful decisions mapped onto the midpoint disasters that most stories have. (Of the 17 checklist movies we’ve done, only two, Do the Right Thing and How to Train Your Dragon, don’t really have midpoint disasters) The answer is that it varies. Usually the disaster is not the result of a poor decision, and even when it is, it tends to be a decision that the hero did not see as painful when he or she made it.
In many, the disaster is the consequence of a correct-but-poorly-executed decision:
- Alien: The captain is killed while trying to kill the alien.
- Casablanca: Rick’s club is trashed because he helped Victor
- In Raising Arizona, the disaster comes after one of Hi’s only right decisions: the rejection of his brother-in-law’s wife-swapping plan.
- The Shining: Danny and then Jack investigate Room 237
- Donnie Brasco: Donnie’s wife changes her number because he’s too far in to call her.
- Sunset Boulevard: Joe arrives home from going out with Betty to find that Norma has attempted suicide.
- Star Wars: The Millennium Falcon gets sucked into the Death Star while trying to reach Alderaan.
- Iron Man: Tony finds out he was wrong to blindly trust Stane
- Bridesmaids: Annie’s attempts to please everybody lead to a series of personal disasters.
- An Education: Jenny finds out that they’re all crooks, but accepts that.
- Blue Velvet: Jeffrey hits Dorothy.
- Another from Donnie Brasco: Donny beats up the maître/d.
- Silence of the Lambs: Clarice and her boss are taken off the case because Chilton tells Lecter that she’s been lying to him.
- Groundhog Day: Phil’s attempts to seduce Rita fail over and over.
- The Bourne Identity: Jason decides to abandon his investigation and leave Paris with Marie in.
Next week: A new checklist!