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Is Magnolia a three-act structure?

Derek · 4 · 1489

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on: January 15, 2004, 03:14:15 PM
The structure has been compared (by PTA himself) to the Beatles' "A Day In The Life.' In that it builds and builds, then drops off, only to build back up again.

I remember a lot of discussion about how the movies of 1999 broke free of structural conventions. But the more I think about it, Magnolia seems to have distinctly three acts to it...the first act ending after Donnie first enters the bar, and the second after Wise Up.
Would others agree that Magnolia is a three-act structure? On a broader scale, are all good stories told in three acts?
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Reply #1 on: January 15, 2004, 03:25:30 PM
Nah, it's operatic. I think the chapter breaks on the dvd are fairly indicative of its structure.

But I could be wrong, maybe PTA had the 3 act structure in mind the whole time.

This whole structure thing: Kubrick and Scorsese talk about 5 - 6 major scenes in a movie, parcelled into movements or sequences. I like this a whole lot better than the rigidity of the 3 act idea.
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Reply #2 on: January 15, 2004, 03:40:21 PM
It was a point that was bugging me for some stupid reason.

Other things that bug me regarding Magnolia: People who say it belongs with 'Days Of Our Lives' and other soap operas as well as the constant comparisons to Altman' Short Cuts and Nashville.

These things bug me but my reasons, I fear, are petty.
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Reply #3 on: January 15, 2004, 04:58:41 PM
Syd Field is Satan... you can call anything "3-act" if it has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

With Magnolia, I tend to like the DVD's chapter stops, though I wonder if you could group them into larger acts.
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