Blake Snyder, you’re my only hope: My attempt at a Star Wars IV Beat Sheet

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Star Wars Episode IV

Protagonist: Luke Skywalker

Act I / Beginning / Thesis:

Opening Image: Act I opens with the image of the words scrolling on the screen and that sets us, the viewers, up with some background information which will help us follow the story. After the words stop scrolling, the action starts and we see spaceships shooting each other.

Set-Up: The rebel ship is captured and searched by the bad guys. We meet C3PO and we see Princess Leia bend over and put the message into R2D2 just before she is captured and imprisoned by Darth Vader and his goons. We meet our antagonist Darth Vader and get a feeling for how scary and powerful he is. We meet Luke, a farmer who merely dreams of being a Jedi fighter. C3PO and R2D2 escape (unknowingly with the plans and the princess’s message) and they end up on the same planet as Luke and his family who then purchase the two robots/droids.

Theme Stated: “Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”

Catalyst: Luke sees the hologram of Princess Leia in distress. This is the catalyst because it is the thing that will eventually put Luke in direct conflict with Darth Vader, the main villain and antagonist of the movie. Luke hasn’t met Darth yet but we have so we have enough of a sense of foreshadowing to know Luke will be in for the fight of his life.

Debate: Ben (AKA Obi Wan Kanobi) wants Luke to learn the ways of the Jedi but initially Luke resists.

Main Conflict: Will Luke Skywalker defeat Darth Vadar and save the princess?

Break into II: Act I ends when Luke sees that his family’s farm has been destroyed and his aunt and uncle have been killed. (I wondered if maybe this moment was actually the catalyst but my gut keeps telling me the catalyst is when Luke sees Leia and hears her message). Luke then decides to leave his world behind and go with Ben on the mission to reunite R2D2 with Princess Leia and fight for the Rebellion (AKA: the good guys).

Act II / Middle / Antithesis:

Act II begins with Luke embarking on his journey but he and Ben need help and they also need a ship. At the space cantina, a bar type place where all the aliens hangout, Luke is completely out of his element. Random criminals want to fight him. Luke and Ben end up having to negotiate a deal with a smuggler. Then a ton of stuff happens.

B Story: We meet Han Solo. There is a funny competitive vibe between him and Luke, who is much younger and less experienced. They are opposites in almost every way imaginable but they’re both obviously attracted to the princess. We learn that Hans Solo needs money to repay the debt he owes the loan shark Jabba the Hut. We can’t help but wonder if Han Solo is doing it all just for the money or because he wants to get Leia. They clearly have chemistry. But who will win the princess’s heart?

Fun and Games: We learn Ben is Obi Wan and that he has history with Darth Vader. We also learn Ben can make people do stuff through mind control. Luke, Han Solo and Chewbacca dress up like storm troopers and sneak into the Death Star. It’s risky but also comical. Luke also learns more about being a Jedi.

Midpoint: Luke rescues Princess Leia and reunites her with R2D2. Luke appears to have saved the day but there’s still so much more to do. Besides, as Leia says: “That was too easy.”

Bad Guys Close In: They almost get crushed to death in the garbage disposal. They manage to escape but then Luke, Leia and the good guys are being tracked by the bad guys.

All is Lost: During a one-on-one fight with the light sabers, it appears Ben/ObiWan gets killed by Darth Vader.

Dark Night of the Soul: Luke mourns Ben/Obi Wan’s death. Luke is really depressed because he loved Obi Wan and his death is a big deal in that it signifies the potential fall of the rebellion.

Reversal: The rebels discover the flaw in the Death Star by analyzing the plans. It gives them one last hope to beat Darth Vadar. Luke is heartbroken but he must press on to fulfill his destiny.

Break into III: Luke and the gang escape the Death Star but they realize they must destroy it before it can destroy the rebel base. They also learn Darth Vadar is tracking them.

Act III / End / Synthesis:

Act III begins with everyone getting prepared for the big fight. Luke and R2D2 board their plane and get ready to depart. Han Solo decides to stay behind.

Time Lock: Time is ticking as Luke needs to destroy the Death Star and stop Darth Vader before Darth and his evil Empire finds and ultimately destroys the Rebel base.

Finale: There is a dog fight and Luke is nearly killed twice. Han Solo shoots the fighter tailing Luke and then Luke “uses the Force” and succeeds in destroying the Death Star and defeating Darth Vadar. Then we see the awards ceremony and we celebrate good winning over evil with our main characters. The beautiful Princess Leia is safe and back where she belongs handing out awards to the heroes.

Final Image: We realize Luke has come a long way since the beginning. He is no longer just a farm boy with big dreams. Now he has achieved his dream of being a Jedi and he’s also a hero. This image of hero Luke (as well as the image of the princess not simply safe and sound but also back in power where she belongs) is the opposite of the initial image of dreamer/farmer Luke.

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