After doing my massive Dark Knight Trilogy cinematic chiasmus, I took a step back and considered how incredible it was that those three films managed to be perfectly ordered to create something beautiful. And then I realized that after doing nine of these film analyses, I must be starting to strain credibility.
I mean, could I be looking for patterns where none exist? Or am I trying to force films to fit a mold that they really don’t fit? I don’t think so. Symmetrical films are quite rare. Even when a film seems to be symmetrical, just a couple of things can keep it from being perfect.
Take the original Spider-Man film. I’ve noted that this film isn’t as well-structured as its superior sequel, but I tried looking at it with my Cinematic Chiasmus lens, and it came so close to making the cut. Here’s the chiasmus, so you can see for yourself.
The Spider-Man Chiasmus
A. Peter Parker asks, “Who am I?”
B. Peter walks toward Mary Jane Watson on a bus
C. Harry is embarrassed by his father’s Rolls Royce
D. Harry tries to impress MJ and steal her from Peter
E. Harry’s father and Peter’s uncle face employment problems
F. Norman Osborn gains super powers and kills his assistant
G. Peter saves MJ from falling and then fights Flash Thompson
H. Peter discovers his powers and forgets to help his uncle
I. Peter and MJ talk outside their houses
J. Peter designs the Spider-Man costume
K. Peter fights Bone Saw McGraw
L. Uncle Ben is killed
M. Peter takes revenge on his uncle’s killer
N. Peter comes home and comforts Aunt May
O. Green Goblin strikes a military compound
P. MJ breaks up with Flash at their high school graduation
Q. Peter starts doing heroic deeds as Spider-Man
R. The Daily Bugle is introduced
S. The Oscorp board of directors fires Norman
T. Green Goblin attacks a parade and faces Spider-Man for the first time
T. Peter says someone needs to stop Green Goblin
S. Norman is horrified to learn he killed the board of directors
R. The Daily Bugle is attacked
Q. Green Goblin invites Spider-Man to become a villain
P. MJ kisses Spider-Man after he saves her from being mugged
O. Green Goblin fights Spider-Man in a burning building
N. Peter comes home to an awkward Thanksgiving dinner
M. Norman plans his retaliation against Peter
L. Aunt May is attacked by Green Goblin
K. (No comparable counterpart)
J. (No comparable counterpart)
I. Peter and MJ talk in Aunt May’s hospital room
H. Norman discovers Peter loves MJ and promises to be a better father to Harry
G. Spider-Man saves MJ from falling and then fights Green Goblin
F. Norman accidentally kills himself while trying to kill Peter
E. Norman is buried in the same cemetery as Uncle Ben
D. Harry says Spider-Man stole his father from him
C. He accepts his fate and walks toward the Rolls Royce
B. Peter walks away from MJ
A. He says, “Who am I? I’m Spider-Man”
This movie was only missing two things, but I thought those two things are critical enough that I nixed the whole thing over them. The creation of the Spider-Man costume and the fight with Bone Saw are pivotal moments in the film, so I couldn’t just leave them out or absorb them into other parts.
To meet my criteria of being an example of Cinematic Chiasmus, a film has to really go through the ringer. First, I look for a movie that has a similar beginning and ending. Then I take careful notes on everything that happens in it to see if the events match up.
I really thought that Spider-Man was going to work out. After all, it worked for Superman: The Movie, so why not another great comic-book movie?
Whenever you see a Cinematic Chiasmus, keep in mind that each one is quite a gem. I look forward to writing many more of these articles so we can see great films in a whole new light.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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