Four Questions? Four Archetypes?

In order to have a basic understanding of how these reviews work, you need to understand two concepts: the four questions and the four archetypes.

The four questions are the questions that every movie must answer effectively:

  1. Who’s your main character?
  2. What’s your main character trying to accomplish?
  3. Who’s trying to stop your main character?
  4. What happens if your main character fails?

The answers must be:

  1. A sympathetic character, who is…
  2. …trying to accomplish a compelling goal while being opposed by…
  3. … a powerful and committed opponent, over…
  4. life and death stakes.

The four archetypes are the four classic archetypes that every main character moves through in every great movie:

  1. ORPHAN in Act One
  2. WANDERER in the first half of Act Two
  3. WARRIOR in the second half of Act Two
  4. MARTYR in Act Three.

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4 Responses to “Four Questions? Four Archetypes?”

  1. peter bull April 11, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    hi jeffrey …i know you’ve been snowed under but i’m hoping you’ll get a chance to take a look at sucker punch, i think it is possibly one of the clearest examples of the four questions, four archetypes process.

  2. Elaine April 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    Could the “Martyr” phase be replaced by “Mystic”? There is usually something transcendent about most main characters after they overcome obstacles.


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    […] the four archetypes in classic sequence: Orphan.  Wanderer.  Warrior. […]

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    […] current and past, in the theatres and on DVD — and analyzes how they measure up to the Four Questions and Four Archetypes;  two components of Mariner Software’s new story stucture program CONTOUR.  Invariably, in […]

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