The Structure of a Rescue. Attack of the Clones (2002). Return of the Jedi (1983). As many of you probably know, The Empire Strikes Back has a unique structure. That is, it places its biggest action sequence (the Battle of Hoth) early in the film and ends on a personal note, without a conclusion. The Han Solo frozen-in-carbonite plot thread left hanging in one of cinema’s most memorable cliffhangers doesn’t get resolved until the beginning of the next episode, Return of the Jedi. So, in terms of structure, the first act of Jedi essentially serves, in part, as the third act of Empire. But what you may not have realized is that in creating the overall structure of Attack of the Clones, writer-director George Lucas took the non-traditional structure of Empire and flipped it, so the film starts on a more personal note and ends with a big battle (Battle of Geonosis), which makes Clones more traditional in nature. What’s more, the plot thread involving Obi-Wan’s capture is tied up by the end of the film, thus giving Clones the proper resolution that Empire lacks. Lucas even went so far as to take elements from the rescue of Han Solo during the first act of Jedi and place them in the third act of Clones during the rescue of Obi-Wan. Ultimately, all of this helps give Clones a more traditional narrative structure, providing a strong counterpoint to Empire’s non-traditional structure. More importantly, though, it’s further evidence of Lucas using plot and other narrative details to design Clones and Empire as interlocking pieces of the larger, six-film ring structure. .
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