Farewell StoryLink. Hello ScriptMag.com!
It's been a great ride here at StoryLink.com, but the time has come to move the screenwriting conversation to a new destination. And that spot is ScriptMag.com, the newest member of The Writers Store family. Read more >

Megahit Movie Climax Scenes

E-mail Print Save

Richard Stefanik

Richard Michaels Stefanik, author of The Megahit Movies book, explains Megahit Movie Climax Scenes.

The climax scene of a movie is always the most exciting and emotionally engrossing scene for the audience. This is the “obligatory scene” in which the protagonist battles the antagonist. The survival of the love interest will also be determined in this scene. But there are really two types of climaxes that occur in many popular movies: the plot climax and the story climax.

The plot climax answers the following question: What happens to the primary objective? Who obtains the objective at the end of the film? What is the outcome of the battle between the protagonist and the antagonist? This scene focuses on the things that happen to the protagonist during his final battle: the events and obstacles that he has to overcome to obtain the final prize.

The story climax answers a different set of questions: What is the final choice of the protagonist? What is the value expressed by this final choice? At this last moment before his “life and death” struggle with the antagonist, what ethical code of behavior does he ultimately choose?

Below are examples drawn from some of the megahit movies.

Star Wars: The story climax occurs when Luke decides to rely on “the spiritual force” instead of “computerized technology” to guide his final torpedo drop. The plot climax occurs when the Death Star is destroyed.

Matrix Trilogy: The story climax occurs when Neo accepts that he is the ONE and sacrifices himself to save Zion. The plot climax occurs when the Machines stop destroying Zion.

Titanic: The story climax occurs when Rose decides to rejoin Jack on the Titanic instead of staying on the lifeboat: she decides to stay with the man she loves. The plot climax occurs when Rose throws the jewel “the heart of the ocean” back into the ocean above the sunken Titanic, then rejoins Jack in her dreams (or after her death) on the staircase under the clock on the Titanic.

Shrek: The story climax occurs when Shrek tells Fiona he loves her. The plot climax occurs when Farquaard is eaten by the Dragon, Shrek kisses Fiona, and the spell on Princess Fiona is broken.

Lord of the Rings Trilogy: The story climax occurs when Frodo decides not to destroy the Ring. This shows that the Ring is too powerful for any human or hobbit to possess. The plot climax occurs when Gollum falls into the lava river holding the ring which is then destroyed.

The final scene of a movie consists in the resolution of the story. The conflicts are resolved both for the protagonist and the community (including the audience). There is usually a celebration for the defeat of the antagonist and his forces; a joyous event where the protagonist reunites with the community. This allows the audience to express joy and release all the final emotional tensions that have been built up in the climax scene. The audience is left happy, feeling that once again, all is well with the world. To paraphrase Aristotle, their emotions have been purged. The audience then leaves the theatre having had an emotionally satisfying experience.

Star Wars Luke Skywalker returns to a joyous rebel base after destroying the Death Star. The community honors Luke and Han in a celebration in which they are awarded medals for saving the planet.

Matrix Trilogy: The Oracle and the Architect meet in a park and agree that anyone who wants will be free of the new matrix. The young girl who was born without a purpose joins the Oracle to watch the rising sun of a new dawn.

Titanic Rose walks into the Titanic stateroom and up the stairway to meet Jack by the clock. The ghosts of those who drowned on the Titanic applaud their reunion.

Shrek: The wedding celebration takes place in Shrek’s swamp.

Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Gandalf, Bilbo, and Frodo sail off to the west in the Elf ship. Sam enters his cottage with his wife and two children.