Sunday, 18 October 2015

The Incredibles (2004) - Narrative Structure

 Figure 1. The Incredibles Poster 

The Incredibles is a Pixar movie that could be described as having a 3 or 5 act structure. It has a linear narrative, is easy to understand and follows the formula of Setup, Conflict and Resolution. This Linear narrative means that the film has an Arc Plot, in which action is rising and then falling within the film. At the start of the film, in Act 1, we are given exposition, this is where we are first introduced to Bob and Helen who, at this point in time, are the superheroes Mr Incredible and Elastigirl. An incident then leads to all superheroes having to give up their roles and we then see Bob and Helen living an ordinary life 15 years later. Bob finds his life mundane, he works a tiring job. Margaret Pomeranz mentions in her review that “Mr. Incredible is deeply depressed, he’s lost his identity. He can’t resist a bit of secret action on the side with Mr. Frozone.” (Pomeranz, 2015). Knowing that Bob has lost his identity we as an audience expect him to gain it back. These feelings Bob has lead to the inciting incident which is Bob losing his job. We then come to Plot point 1, having no job Bob accepts a job that only a superhero can perform.

Figure 2. Bob Still

We then come to Act 2 where Bob begins to face obstacles. Bob must face off against a robot on an island which is at first a struggle. Bob must also continue to lie to Helen, instead of telling her that he became a superhero again he instead says that a promotion from work means he’s working away from home now. However when Helen listens to Bob on the phone with another women she becomes worried that he is having an affair. Felix Vasquez talks about the issues the film deals with and describes The Incredibles as “a true accomplishment to be proud of which is an amazing fantasy tale while confronting issues of violence, marital troubles, adultery and monotony” (Vasquez, 2005). These issues not only teach the audience about how to deal with them but it also gives more depth to a story structure that can be seen as cliché and overdone. While Bob is still lying to Helen he continues down his lone superhero path however in the first culmination Bob is then captured by the villain of the island. We then reach the midpoint of the story when the rest of the family (apart from baby Jack Jack) head to the island to save Bob. At this point the children have to learn how to control their powers against the threats on the island. As we approach Plot point 2 the family is now working together as a superhero team. The family escape the island and reach the city this is where the movie reaches its climax as the family face the villain’s giant robot.

Figure 3. Family Still

As the Superheroes defeat the robot we reach Act 3 and the Third Act twist. The villain makes an attempt to steal baby Jack Jack and raise him as his own however it turns out that Jack Jack actually has powers which he uses to get away. The family are now generally happy about being superheroes and this is the films resolution. The ending of the film is a Partial ending, there’s still room for another adventure, possibly with the villain that turns up at the end. The ending however has been critised by some, R. L. Shaffer says that “it's a shame Pixar continually bypasses redemption for any of their villain characters.” (Shaffer, 2011). With the third act generally being a shorter part of the film it’s often that points like what Shaffer is suggesting may be cut out. The third act structure is often cristised however The Incredibles is a pastiche to Superhero movies which often follow this structure and therefore it was an appropriate choice to make in terms of narrative. This element of pastiche obviously leaves little room to play with narrative however a simple story leaves plenty of room for a creative and consistent art direction which is certainly the films strength.

Narrative Story Structure

Act 1

-  We are introduced to Mr Incredible (Bob) and Elastigirl (Helen) back when they were superheroes.
Inciting Incident
-15 years later Bob finds life not being a superhero mundane, this leads to him losing his job.
Plot Point 1
-Bob receives a path back into being a superhero and takes it but does so alone without telling his family.

Act 2

-Bob is forced to Lie to Helen, he faces off against a robot, which after a few years is a struggle.
First Culmination
-Bob is captured by the villain on an island.  
Mid Point
-The rest of the Family head to the island to save Bob.  
Plot Point 2
-The family work together to stop the villain as superheroes.
-          The Family face off against the giant robot threatening the city.

Act 3
Denouement 1: Third Act Twist
-          The Villian makes an attempt to hurt baby Jack Jack but Jack Jack actually has superpowers and is able to save himself.
 Denouement 2: The Resolution
- The family are happy being superheroes, but still remain secret.

Pomeranz, M (2015) (accessed 16/10/15)

Illustration List
Bird, B (2004) Figure 1. The Incredibles Poster (accessed 16/10/15)
Bird, B (2004) Figure 2. Bob Still (accessed 16/10/15)

Bird, B (2004) Figure 3. Family Still (accessed 16/10/15)

1 comment:

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