First, let me clarify that the multi-level view of structure considers the definition of the protagonist in any story to be wide enough to include a person, a group, a community, a culture, a metaphor, or merely an idea. But, whatever it is, it is really a cipher, a stand-in, for... us, the audience. The protagonist is the carrier of the meaning to be gained from the story. So, the transformation (or non-transformation despite the need for it) of the protagonist (and, so, the audience), is the mechanism of gaining that meaning. While the protagonist does not have to transform, the engaged audience’s understanding must, in order to have a successful story.
“I was aware enough to know those Syd Field books were evil. I was always antiestablishment enough to resist those. And I sort of developed a process which is the first job of trying to identify a three-act structure, which I do believe in. (my italics) I’d love to see if there’s anything beyond the three-act structure but I think it works very well as a narrative structure of a film.”
“When I give screenwriting seminars or classes and they ask me, ‘What advice do you have for young screenwriters?’, I say, ‘Don’t read any screenwriting books.’ I actually think the whole three-act structure is so deeply ingrained in us from living in this culture and watching movies, that in order to come up with new movies, which is what I want to see, you really have to fight what you have innately learned. When you’re writing, you will find yourself being drawn naturally by gravity into doing something which corresponds to all of these things that you have seen. You have to fight that instinct in order to come up with a new movie.”
“There's a strong tendency right now toward formula. Like this is how a screenplay is written: By page 30 this has to happen, your Act Two goes to page 90...That's just horse sh--. I think a badly crafted, great idea for a new film with a ton of spelling mistakes is just 100 times better than a well-crafted stale script.
“Whether it’s a Greek tragedy, a five-act Shakespearean play, a four-act dramatic series, or a seven-act movie-of-the-week, we still see the basic three-act structure: beginning, middle, and end—or set-up, development, and resolution.”
For those interested, I found this explanation of Shakespeare's structural approach for The Taming Of The Shrew:
Ring Lardner, Jr., in his interview with Pat McGilligan and Barry Strugatz in Backstory 3, pp. 223-4, describing the differences between the source book and the movie of M*A*S*H:
Postscript - This, then, concludes what I have to say about narrative film story structure. I invite reader comments and/or questions. I am willing to prepare a single, albeit lengthy, document of all nine of the posts, combined, should anyone want a copy emailed to them for reference. Let me know at the address accessible from my bio page. Thanks for staying with me through these posts.