In this chapter, we will begin an extended examination of structure—looking at how it is used both in mainstream and alternative films. We will consider the relationship of structure to character development and change, internal and external conflict, story meaning, and the relative positioning of character and audience.

Consider the story line of a mainstream film. In The Verdict (Sydney Lumet, 1982), Galvin, an alcoholic lawyer who has lost faith in the law, is given a lucrative open-and-shut case to settle out of court. But, finding himself moved by the injustice the case represents, and seeing an opportunity to redeem himself, he decides to bring it to trial. We know this is crazy, and, sure enough, he runs the case into the ground. ...

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