The Magnificent Seven

Inciting Event: Hilario and the other villagers arrive in the border town, and, after witnessing the skills of gunfighters Chris and Vin, they approach Chris with their request: help them buy guns to fight off the bandit leader Calvera, who is stealing from their village.

Even though the movie begins by framing the story from the villagers’ point of view, this is ultimately a story about Chris and his fellow gunfighters. Chris is reluctant at first, making this a beautiful example of the protagonist starting out by refusing the Call to Adventure. He tells them, “I’m not in the blessing business.” Even when he agrees to help them find men to hire, he qualifies it by saying, “I’m not saying I’ll go. We’ll just pass the word you’re looking for men.”

First Plot Point: After assembling his team of six gunfighters (and the uninvited seventh, Chico), Chris and the others leave the border town for the village. Although a relatively quiet First Plot Point, this marks the first definitive turning point in the story. The setup (the gathering of the seven main characters) is over. Now they physically leave their heretofore established Normal World and enter the adventure world of the Mexican village they will inhabit for the rest of the story.

First Pinch Point: On the first day in the village, while watching the celebration of the village’s founding, Chris learns from one of the village boys that Calvera has sent three men ahead of him to spy on the village. Chris sends Britt and Lee to check it out and bring one of the bandits back alive. Chico tags along, and, when one of the bandits stumbles upon him, he shoots the man—forcing Britt to kill the other two. This obviously emphasizes the “pinch” of Calvera’s imminent return and turns the plot toward the confrontation at the Midpoint.

Midpoint: Calvera arrives in the village, and Chris’s men and the villagers chase them off. They win what the villagers believe is a great victory. This battle turns the characters out of their reactive preparation in the first half and into full-blown battle mode in the second. It isn’t so much Chris and the other gunfighters’ attitude that changes here as it is the villagers’—as they become empowered by their newfound ability to resist Calvera.

Second Pinch Point: That night, Chico infiltrates Calvera’s camp and learns Calvera has no intention of leaving the village in peace. Chico returns with the news, and the village leader Sotero orders Chris and his men to leave. Chris refuses, but as all the other gunfighters point out, the odds are now “much too high.” They must do something to remedy that, so they head out to Calvera’s camp to chase off his horses—only to discover Calvera and all his men have disappeared. This is the “seeming victory” before the low moment of the Third Plot Point.

Third Plot Point: Chris and his men return to the village, only to discover that Calvera has overtaken it—with the help of Sotero—while they were gone. Calvera demands they surrender their weapons and leave the village, but promises he will let them go free, since he’s worried about their friends “up north” causing problems for him.

This is a nice Third Plot Point. By this point, the fate of the village has become deeply personal to all the gunfighters. In surrendering to Calvera here, they’re not only losing on a professional level but also on a personal level, as they must also surrender the new hopes and plans that were slowly growing within them.

Climax: After being left outside the village by Calvera’s men, Chris and the others decide to return to the village to take on Calvera. As Britt says, “Nobody throws me my own guns and says run. Nobody.” They arrive at daybreak and begin their final battle.

Climactic Moment: Chris kills Calvera.

Resolution: The dead are buried—including four of the gunmen. Chico decides to stay behind with the girl he’s fallen in love with. Only Chris and Vin ride off, knowing “only the farmers have won. They always win.”

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