The Hollywood Model - ?

The Narrative Arc

When we talk about the Hollywood Model ('Berettermodellen'), it basically seems to be a Danish invention. The closest thing in English seems to be the Narrative Arc, based on the three acts of the classical drama. It outlines schematically the progress of the 'good story':


Image source:

More on the narrative arc (including an unorthodox video on the subject featuring Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.):

In the realm of video game analysis, however, we can find something very similar to the 'berettermodel':


Image source:

Danish English Description
Anslag Teaser This is where the story starts. The duration of the teaser varies greatly, and may be more or less dramatic.
Elaboration This is where time, place, and characters are made known to us, and here we get to know the background for the film's conflict. This is where we learn what we need to know in order to understand the rest.
Point of no return Point of no return This is the point — or the short phase — in the narrative after which there is no turning back. From now on we have to move forward for a solution.
Konfliktoptrapning Conflict escalation New conflicts and new drama is introduced. The basic conflict seems more and more insoluble.
Klimaks Climax Maximum excitement — the hero and the villain fight it out and as a consequence a solution is arrived at.
Udtoning Resolution or
Here the film peters out; after the solution of the conflict, things return to (the new) normal. Tension is released and we can go home, fulfilled.

Film analysis in keywords


  • What is the basic story and how does it structure the film?


  • What forces are at play here?
  • Is the film making a statement? How does it deal with its theme?


  • How does it frame the story? What does it suggest about theme?
  • What is characteristic of costumes and props?

Framing and focus

  • What is in the shot?
  • What is in focus? And out of focus?
  • What is in foreground and background?

Camera movement

  • Panning?
  • Tilting?
  • Tracking?
  • Slow/fast?
  • Steady/confusing?

Camera angle/perspective

  • Bird's eye view?
  • Worm's eye view?
  • Close up/medium shot/long shot (full shot)?
  • Over the shoulder shot (point of view of a character)?

Lighting and colour

  • What is lit?
  • Soft/harsh lighting?
  • Shadows?
  • Predominant colours?
  • Atmosphere/mood?


  • What kind of music? And what does it do?
  • Sound effects?
  • Voice over?


  • Characterize the cutting:
    • Any patterns?
    • Rhythm and pace
    • How are scenes connected?
    • Are we told more than the characters know? How?


  • Believable or stereotypical?
  • What roles do they play in the plot? Can you place them, e.g., in the actantial model?


  • Believable or contrived?
  • High style/middle style/low style?


  • Is symbolism used to represent some topic or idea from the theme, for instance by focussing repeatedly on an object throughout many scenes, or repeating a word or phrase?
  • Is symbolism — if any — used overtly or with subtlety?
  • Take care not to be over-zealous in your search for symbolism!

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