657: Movie Narrative Charts

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 03:47, 10 March 2014 by (Talk)

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.


The original infographic by Charles Joseph Minard

The transcript (see below) already explains most of it.

The movies referenced are (links go to Wikipedia):

If you click on the chart on the original xkcd page, you'll get a large (3274x2064 pixels) image.

The joke in 12 Angry men graphic is that in the movie all 12 jurors are all 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.

The last box is a movie called Primer from 2004, which became a cult classic. It is about accidentally discovering time travel. The plot is so convoluted and mixed up with the time travel between the original person and the so-called time travelling "double" that it is almost impossible to figure out where each character is at one time, as the comic illustrates.

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.


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.
Lord of the Rings: A mass of colored lines weaves back and forth across the chart, representing various characters. Sauron is represented by a huge black bar at the bottom with branches for 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.
Star Wars (original trilogy): This chart is simpler. 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.
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.
12 Angry Men: The lines are labeled Juror 1 through Juror 12. They are all perfectly horizontal and parallel.
Primer: 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.

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)

You're right! Perhaps this could be also mentioned in a "mistakes" / trivia section, as the flaws above. --LaVe (talk) 13:59, 24 February 2017 (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)

I added some transcript. I didn't manage to use different colors in the transcript, so I added the HEX-Codes directly in the text. I'm not mother-tongued so please correct if you find mistakes. --LaVe (talk) 12:30, 20 February 2017 (UTC)

Cool with the transcript. --Kynde (talk) 18:20, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
Hey Kynde, we've talked about transcripts. Someone reading the text should understand the picture; not each pixel. I've also talked to LaVe and I promised that I will work on this soon. Stay tuned...--Dgbrt (talk) 19:47, 24 February 2017 (UTC)

I added to the star wars section. Not to familiar with Jurassic Park so an someone add to that and complete the transcript so this comic is complete?Dontknow (talk) 23:31, 2 March 2017 (UTC)

i clicked on the incomplete explanation in the spotlight link to see if i could fix it ... some comics will not and should not ever be fully explained 04:10, 23 March 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?