Monday, 14 November 2016

Narrative Structure - Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) Review

Figure 1 - Star Trek Into Darkness Theatrical Poster

Directed by J.J.Abrams and the sequel to the 2009 revitalisation of the iconic series. 'Star Trek Into Darkness' (Figure 1) is the introduction to one of most proclaimed villains in the franchise and Abrams next step to boldly reimagining the series. After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk played by 'Chris Pine' leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one-man weapon of mass destruction.

In this review we will be focusing upon the Narrative Structure of the film and whether the film fits with the three act structure I feel it can be dissected into. Following Gustav Freytag's Pyramid of Structure.
Figure 2 - Freytag's Pyramid
Before beginning our investigation into Narrative Structure within this film selection, it would be applicable to mention the Freytag theorem. Pictured above (Figure 2) is a demonstration of Gustav Freytag's theory behind structure. Behind every story there is an inciting incident and need for some sort of action, follows through the same lines as a prologue. It expresses the need toward a resolution of the situation. This introduces the concept of the three act structure within film, the Exposition, the Climax and the Denouement. There are of course rising and falling actions in there aswell to consider but we will now apply this knowledge to our review.
Figure 3 - Captain Kirk
Act 1
We are introduced to Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise as they are attempting a planetary wide rescue by interrupting an active volcanoes wrath and violating the Prime Directive. "Do you know what a pain you are? You think the rules don't apply to you. There's greatness in you, but there's not an ounce of humility. You think that you can't make mistakes, but there's going to come a moment when you realize you're wrong about that, and you're going to get yourself and everyone under your command killed."(Pike, C) Kirk is soon after grounded and de-ranked as the results of his efforts to save the planet and his First Officer. Kirk feels the need to express his maturity to Starfleet by once again going under the Wing of his superior Admiral Christopher Pike. This is included to show the audience that whatever is going to take place following the actions of the prologue will be a redemption of not the crew of the Enterprise entirely, but by Captain Kirk himself and his actions critiqued by his subjects. His legacy.

 Figure 4 - Khan Noonien Singh
It is also in the First Act we are introduced to Khan Noonien Singh.(Figure 4) The main anti-protagonist of the film. Someone who is represented to be manipulative and a devious man, someone crafted to be the man that Captain Kirk must overcome to have resolution in not just the story but for himself. Khan Noonien Singh kills leaders of Starfleet and is a wanted fugitive for his actions under the false pretence of 'John Harrison'. This is what drives the act and brings Captain Kirk to the first step of his redemption. Piloting the Enterprise to pursue and capture the fugitive and bring him to swift justice. "That being said, Khan Noonien Singh is the most dangerous adversary the Enterprise ever faced. He is brilliant, ruthless and he will not hesitate to kill every single one of you." (Spock,A). With the audience armed with this narrative the structure continues into Act 2.
Act 2

Captain Kirk is emotionally compromised by the events that took place when Khan decimated Starfleet command and seeks to bring him to justice for the heinous crime that has been committed. But he is ordered by Admiral Marcus (Figure 5) to deploy torpedoes onto his position in orbit. An action that would probably end in the beginning of a new war between Starfleet and the Klingons. Instead of listening to his orders. Kirk chooses to capture the fugitive and bring him aboard for questioning. Disobeying a direct order from a superior in the process.

Figure 5 - Admiral Marcus
Captain Kirk learns from Khan Noonien Singh that everything to that point had been orchestrated to escalate the tension between two societies that would end in all out war. The Enterprise sabotaged and stranded on the edge of Klingon Space armed with to the brim with warheads. This is also the point where the film meets its unexpected climax in being that Khan is no longer the main threat, but it is now the chain of command that kirk himself follows. "The Midpoint, that link in the chain of dramatic action that connects the first half of Act II with the second half of Act II, is what moves the action forward and creates a new dramatic subtext.” (Field,S). This quote strengthens that the actions displayed in this Act is crucial to come to a climax that fuels the audiences need for resolution in the piece. Using the subject matter as an example, the conflict now resides between Kirk and Marcus who both have different views on what is best for those who follow beneath them. An iconic Kings of the chessboard approach.
Act 3
Captain Kirk's Journey through the film is displayed as showing trust in others and letting them take the risks he himself should have undertaken. In a classic reenactment of the franchise's lore, Captain Kirk re-aligns the warp field that would have traditionally have been a job for Spock to accomplish, sacrificing himself for the crew.

Figure 6 - Captain Kirk's Death
In his death (Figure 6), Kirk pushes the story into the Final Act. How his legacy will affect those beneath his chain of command. Spock is filled with rage and chases after Khan after all if it wasn't for his actions that led to the death of his friend, Spock wouldn't feel helpless and lost from his emotionless persona of Vulcan heritage. Initially Spock doesn't try to apprehend Khan but instead kill the man responsible for his pain, it isn't until after the Doctor of the Enterprise realizes that Khan is the answer to reviving the Captain. It is this resolution that compels the audience to shout "Don't do it!" as Spock throttles Khan by the neck as we know that Khan's blood is what can save the Captain.
Ultimately the resolution is the trust in the Captain being re-rooted in the crew of the Enterprise and the Captain to be aware of the constant scrutinizing that is done by those beneath his command and how he is looked up to. The films journey from turning Kirk from rebellious and unhinged, to coordinated with his crew and resolved in the knowledge that he joined Starfleet to help others than to fuel his own ego.
Bibliography List

Pike, C (2013) Star Trek Into Darkness at Accessed on 14.11.16

Spock, A (2013) Star Trek Into Darkness at Accessed on 14.11.16
Field, S (1994) Four Screenplays, Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group 

Illustration List


No comments:

Post a Comment