657: Movie Narrative Charts

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
Movie Narrative Charts
In the LotR map, up and down correspond LOOSELY to northwest and southeast respectively.
Title text: In the LotR map, up and down correspond LOOSELY to northwest and southeast respectively.
  • A larger version of this image can be found by clicking the image at xkcd.com - the comic's page can also be accessed by clicking on the comic number above.

[edit] Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Needs more?
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

These charts show movie character interactions. The horizontal axis is time. The vertical grouping of the lines indicates which characters are together at a given time.

[edit] Lord of the Rings Trilogy

A mass of colored lines weaves back and forth across the chart, representing various characters. Sauron is represented by a red bar at the bottom contained within a huge black bar with branches, that in turn represents his army of nazgul, orcs, etc. Major locations (Moria) and plot points (the breaking of the fellowship) are marked. Gandalf, especially at the beginning, jumps all over the map in a short time. Eagles appear and then disappear a couple of times. Treebeard's line is flat except for the march to Isengard. At the end, the ship to the West drifts off into a corner.

[edit] Star Wars (original Trilogy)

Luke, mostly accompanied by R2-D2, joins and parts from other sets of characters. There's a dotted alternative path on Jabba's line for the special edition. Yoda appears about halfway through (where Luke's Jedi training is marked). All the surviving lines group up at Endor except for Vader, the Emperor, Luke, and Lando; after the climactic duel, the latter two join the rest.

[edit] Jurassic Park

The human characters are in black; dinosaurs are in red. Dilophosaurus appears briefly to eat Nedry and then fades out again. The three raptors are together at the beginning, but split up about halfway through. One has a dotted portion of line between "locked up" and "escapes." In the meantime, they cut off the lines of Arnold and Muldoon. The raptor lines all end when t-rex's swoops down to meet them at the end, and all the surviving humans leave together.

[edit] 12 Angry Men

This is a very famous trial film that tells the story of a jury made up of 12 men as they deliberate the guilt or acquittal of a defendant on the basis of reasonable doubt. Only one of these angry men believe the defendant to be innocent and he fights for this against the other 11.

The lines are labeled Juror 1 through Juror 12. They are all perfectly horizontal and parallel.

The joke in the 12 Angry Men graphic is that in the movie all 12 jurors (the angry men) are in the same room the entire movie. They never move and they all always interact with each other, hence their lines stay straight and close to each other.

This is actually not entirely true as the movie begins in the court room and a couple of times during the proceedings a few jurors goes into the washroom and have a brief discussion there, and finally in the very last scene two jurors have a brief exchange in front of the courthouse. But basically there is no need for such a narrative chart, and that is the joke.

[edit] Primer

The last box is a movie called Primer from 2004, which became a cult classic. It is about a group of engineers who discover a way to time travel, but only in one direction (backwards) and only at the speed of regular time (i.e. you have to stay in the time machine for one hour to move an hour back in time). Because of this, the story ends up having multiple versions of the same person existing at the same time; the plot and time-travel mechanics are notoriously hard to follow, so that it is almost impossible to figure out where each character is at one time, as the comic illustrates. Three lines start on the left labeled Abe, Aaron, and Granger. They enter a mass of scribbling. Somewhere vaguely towards the end, three lines emerge and fade out, all labeled with question marks. The chart for Primer is referenced in the title text of the fourth image in the what if? Plastic Dinosaurs.

These charts are a reference to the map by infographic pioneer Charles Joseph Minard that details the movements and losses of Napoleon's troops on his failed conquest of Russia.

[edit] Transcript

Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.

These charts show movie character interactions. The horizontal axis is time. The vertical grouping of the lines indicate which characters are together at a given time.

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


...but in 12 Angry Men, at two points, some of the jurors leave to -- and have conversations in -- the bathroom! ‎ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Why is this not part of the explaination? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Minard.png

It is public domain so it should be allowed right? 03:43, 10 March 2014 (UTC)

I added it to the explaination as it certainly adds to the understadning of the comic. It was already uploaded by someone else. 03:50, 10 March 2014 (UTC)

Only flaw is that Saruman died at the wrong time. LordSamanon (talk) 02:03, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

Second flaw is that Sam is going to west, too (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Third flaw is that in 12 Angry Men, Juror 8 interacts with Juror 9 at the very end. (talk)  (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I figured it would be of interest of the people here that I have gone through the afford of making one of these as well. It took me a few hours, but I am quite proud of the final image. It's definitely not perfect, though, and I am sure it could be done much better (especially if Randall himself would do it ;)). Either way, here is a movie narrative chart for the first Pokémon film, Mewtwo Strikes Back, something I grew up with and felt worked pretty well in this form: http://maplestrip.tumblr.com/image/123162717416 Maplestrip (talk) 18:58, 4 July 2015 (UTC)

I doubt that it's really worth including in the explanation or anything, but it would seem that Grant's and Sattler's lines get swapped by the first time their names are reiterated. -- 13:18, 14 January 2016 (UTC)

For me it is SO weird that this is today's Incomplete Explanation. Yesterday on Facebook, I had a Memory that I shared this 1 year ago today (so, 1 year ago yesterday). :) - NiceGuy1 04:31, 4 January 2017 (UTC)

Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal?