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Entering & Exiting the Story 3: Eleven Ways To Use Prologues - Lesson Now Playing


Entering & Exiting the Story 3: Eleven Ways To Use Prologues

Feb 27, 2010

11 Ways To Use Prologues:

1. Give Exposition

2. Set A Mood

3. Establish a Unique Setting

4. Introduce Variety

5. Hook Interest

6. Recap

7. Set Up Future Payoffs

8. Frame the Story

9. Create Dramatic Irony

10. Develop a Setup Sub-Plot

11. Just for the Laughs 

 

Examples Referred To (in order mentioned): Star Wars, CoCo Before Chanel, Taming of the Shrew, Sexy Beast, Casablanca, Law & Order (NBC), Damages (FX), In Treatment (HBO) , 24 (Fox), Joyce Carol Oates' novel What I Lived For, Gandhi, The Last Emporer, Sunset Blvd., Double Indemnity, Predator, Life is Beautiful, Robert McKee's mini-series Abraham, Scrooged

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Entering & Exiting the Story 3: Eleven Ways To Use Prologues - Lesson Lesson Discussion


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SCSaunders: Seeing Prologue Examples More Clearly
at Jul 13, 2010 - 8:30 AM
Educated by Mr. McKee's definition & purpose for prologue, I feel I'm beginning to see its utility to the story craft more clearly.

The prologue montage to 'Up' comes to mind; as does, the prologue fight scene in 'Enter the Dragon.'  I could be wrong; but falling down is a part of learning.
Birddog: Prologue Insights
at Apr 14, 2010 - 9:35 PM
This was a great overview with good examples of all the ways you can use a prologue within your stories.

Thanks Robert,
Birddog
eindianos: Very Helpful
at Apr 02, 2010 - 11:01 PM
This helps.
Bass: An example of a bad prologue
at Feb 27, 2010 - 5:34 PM

Regarding #4 and #11 - I can think of an example of a movie which disastrously attempted to use an opening to introduce variety and to set up the laughs: CHASING AMY.

The film opens with a ludicrously over-the-top scene set at a comic-book convention in which every single person over-reacts to any insult directed towards them (imagined or real). A comic-book writer promoting his latest comic-book "White-Hating Coon" (an anti-white racist diatribe) to an audience begins to rant at how the movie STAR WARS is racist. When one of the major characters asks if the message of STAR WARS is true, that all "black people secretly want to be white", the racist writer pulls out a gun and shoots him. The crowd leave in terror, and it turns out this writer is actually friends with the major character, and that they like playing this prank at conventions. This outrageous scene sets up the movie as a frenetic comedy about comic-book readers and professionals.

However, the film immediately switches gears and begins a story in which the major character is caught in a bisexual love triangle between himself and another heterosexual man and a lesbian. Throughout the movie, people kept expecting more outrageous scenes like the one that opened it, instead of lengthy scenes of people talking with great banality about this absurd relationship. Whenever the racist writer returned, the audience hoped he'd be the bombastic racist they saw in the prologue, but instead he is revealed as a well-spoken and outrageously camp homosexual, and he becomes the 'wise sage' to the main character's romantic dilemmas.

Regardless of the actual quality of the storytelling of the film, CHASING AMY strikes me as a useful example of how a prologue, improperly used to add variety or laughs, can completely mislead an audience. Using seemingly serendipitous reasons such as "variety" and "just for laughs" confused the audience irreprably.

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