Top Gun for Story Structure & Life Lessons

I watched a tutorial today based on the movie Top Gun illustrating how a story structure (or screenplay) loops around in a circle, where you are back to the state of equilibrium at the end after everything you throw at your protagonist. Of course it must include an arc that has led the protag from here to there and they are presumably much better off/more mature, etc.  Isn’t that how life is supposed to be? We are constantly seeking that equilibrium after life throws us for a loop? Pun intended. And we should get from point A to point B older, wiser and better?

But, if we look to the spiritual side of things (yes, getting deep here), I think in life’s lessons if God is out of the loop, you won’t reach the better end of the character arc. You will get from point A to point B and will not be better off, may be more immature, and certainly won’t be wiser.  You will instead be frustrated, angry, confused, broken or lonely.  Too many people end up there.  And that’s not a fun story to read let alone live through.

Thankfully, the story featured in the tutorial was one of my favorite movies of all time: Top Gun (1986, baby). But if Goose wouldn’t have died and Maverick didn’t have to go through somewhat of a spiritual struggle (with God, I’m presuming—in a secular movie, I like to make assumptions), it wouldn’t have been as transformative. And I’m sorry, but you can’t get a better story for learning the landmarks of story structure than Top Gun (this is my own analysis):

Hook—Maverick gets chance to go to Top Gun because top pilot has melt down

Set-up—Off to Top Gun Academy, romantic interest introduced

First Plot Point—Screws up and has to prove credibility

Midpoint–Goose dies, Maverick blames himself

Second Plot Point—instructor Viper tells him about his father, regains confidence

Resolution—graduation, ready for future

Climax—Best mission of his life, uses lessons he learned

Post-Climax—Buzz the tower, of course! And will come back as instructor

Maverick’s character arc is phenomenal. Plus the movie has Tom Cruise before he got weird and Val Kilmer at the top of his game—win win!

Would you look at that I just blogged in a loop.

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