Some conversation starters for movie viewing:
Pause the film and ask: What do you think will happen next?
As you are viewing, identify the main character by saying, “I’ll bet Bambi is the protagonist, that is, the main character.”
Ask: “What do you think he wants? Who’s going to stop him?” (plot=a main character who wants something but has to overcome an obstacle to get it)
In Bambi, Bamib wants to lead a natural, animal life that includes maturing, being raised by his mother, falling in love and having a mate and babies.
The obstacle to getting what Bambi wants is MAN. (“Man is in the forest.”) Each crisis advances the plot. In this case, you can notice when Man becomes a problem for Bambi (when is he first aware of Man?). Then you can trace how many crises lead up to the climax (the biggest crisis).
To identify the climax, figure out which scene is the one that you are waiting for – the one that will make or break the protagonist’s goal. Can you figure out what the climax is going to be at the beginning, partway in, or only right before it happens? Is there a mini climax before the ultimate climax?
The climax is usually the last big event (conflict) right before the end where everything is neatly wrapped up. So even though there are always mini crises throughout a good plot, the climax is the event that everyone is worried about that happens right before the story resolves itself.
For instance, in Bambi, the climax comes when there is a fire (started by man) in the forest and Bambi must escape. The climax does not occur when Bambi’s mother is shot. That crisis is called a “complication.” A complication adds problematic mass to the story so that it drives to a climax. Bambi’s mother being shot by “man” is one in a series of times that Bambi encounters the problem that is central to this story: namely, man is in the forest and is a threat to the well-being of animals.
So the climax is that moment when the clash between these two worlds is so threatening that we wonder if Bambi comes out of it okay. I’ll leave you hanging for how it all turns out.
See if you can deconstruct the plot of a favorite movie. I highly recommend anything by Disney. His plots are simple and the climaxes are clear.