The Immigrant

Inciting Event: Bruno gets Ewa away from Ellis Island, promises to help pay her sister’s hospital bills, and takes her home with him. You might argue that Ewa’s and her sister’s arrival on Ellis Island must be the Inciting Event. But until the moment when Ewa joins Bruno, the story is still unformed. It could go off in any number of directions. This moment is the Inciting Event because it brings instant focus to the story.

First Plot Point: Bruno coerces Ewa into performing with the prostitutes in his theater troupe. Here is where Ewa forever leaves behind her Normal World. She enters the underworld of prostitution, from which she will never be able to return unscathed.

First Pinch Point: Believing she is a lewd woman, Ewa’s uncle turns her over to the authorities for deportation. Here, Ewa finally finds the relatives she’s been trying to reach throughout the story—only to discover they are not the safe haven she craves.

Midpoint: Bruno quits the theater in a rage after his cousin Emil the magician unintentionally embarrasses Ewa on stage. The conflict comes into sharper focus as the good-hearted Emil emerges as a possible love interest and savior for Ewa—and Bruno’s own feelings for Ewa become obvious. The tension between them (the promise of conflict) shoots the stakes way up.

Second Pinch Point: When Bruno discovers Emil and Ewa talking in his apartment, he tries to stab Emile and is arrested. The conflict’s threat upon Ewa becomes blatantly clear. Emil is the first good person she’s met since arriving in New York, but if she spends time with him or allows him to help her, she will endanger them both as the result of Bruno’s jealous rage. This pinch point also does a good job emphasizing the outside antagonistic force of the police—who will be a threat to Ewa and Bruno alike in the Third Act.

Third Plot Point: Emil threatens Bruno with an empty pistol, trying to get him to release Ewa, and Bruno panics and stabs him to death. This is a magnificent Third Plot Point. Up to this point, the viewers have hoped (perhaps even more than Ewa herself) that Emil will save her. Not only does he fail spectacularly, and even pathetically, but he removes himself from her life and forces Bruno and Ewa into even deeper straits as they attempt to cover up his death.

Climax: On the run from the police, Bruno takes Ewa to Ellis Island to get her sister. Once more, the goal at the heart of Ewa’s story comes into focus as she races to finally free her sister and escape.

Climactic Moment: Ewa and her sister are reunited. This is what the story has been working toward ever since the opening scene. At this point, the goal is met, and the story’s tension immediately relaxes.

Resolution: Ewa and her sister sail away, while Bruno goes to the police to confess to Emil’s murder.

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