Script Analysis: “Mudbound” — Part 2: Plot

Read the script for the critically acclaimed indie film and analyze it all this week.

Reading scripts. Absolutely critical to learn the craft of screenwriting. The focus of this bi-weekly series is a deep structural and thematic analysis of each script we read. Our daily schedule:

Monday: Scene-By-Scene Breakdown
Tuesday: Plot
Wednesday: Characters
Thursday: Themes
Friday: Dialogue
Saturday: Takeaways

Today: Plot.

In every scene, something happens. A plot point is a scene or group of scenes in which something major happens, an event that impacts the narrative causing it to turn in a new direction.

A relevant anecdote. Years ago, I was on the phone with a writer discussing a script project. My son Will, who was about four years old at the time, must have been listening to me talking about “plot points” during the conversation because after I hung up, he asked, “Daddy, what’s a plop point?”

That’s in effect what a plot point is. It’s an event that ‘plops’ into the narrative and changes its course. So when you think Plot Point, think Plop Point!

The value of this exercise:

  • To identify the backbone of the story structure.
  • To examine each major plot point and see how it is effective as an individual event.
  • To analyze the major plot points in aggregate to determine why they work together as the central plot.

This week: Mudbound. You may download the script here.

Screenplay by Virgil Williams and Dee Rees, novel by Hillary Jordan.

IMDb plot summary: Two men return home from World War II to work on a farm in rural Mississippi, where they struggle to deal with racism and adjusting to life after war.

Mudbound was nominated for 4 Academy Awards, 2 Golden Globes, and won the Robert Altman Award at the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

The movie is available for screening on Netflix.

Major kudos to Mark Furney for doing this week’s scene-by-scene breakdown.

To download a PDF of the breakdown for Mudbound, go here.

For Part 1, to read the Scene-By-Scene Breakdown discussion, go here.

Click RESPONSE and join the conversation.

To access 60+ analyses of previous movie scripts we have read and discussed at Go Into The Story, go here.

I hope to see you in the RESPONSE section about this week’s script: Mudbound.