You know what’s a cool word? “Trilogy.” It feels cool to use the word trilogy, to refer to something as a trilogy. It represents something that is complete, something that consists of several parts that build to one whole, something (for lack of a better, or at least less used, term) epic. You know this, I know this, but movie studios especially know this. I imagine there are few feelings better in the movie industry than knowing you created a successful film trilogy, and that’s probably because actually making three successful films in one series is such a hard thing to do. Many have tried to make a great film trilogy, and while some have failed (or come up just short of success), there are certainly others that have triumphed.
If you ask your average person what their all-time favorite movie is, most of the time you won’t be able to get a definitive answer. Some people might be able to tell you their number one film (for example, mine is “Back to the Future”), but for the most part they’ll likely rattle off a few movies they really enjoyed without being able to say which one is the best. However, if you were to ask the average person what their favorite trilogy is, most of the time you would be able to get a pretty straight answer. To be fair, that’s probably because there are far fewer trilogies to choose from than just movies in general, but still, if a movie series can captivate you not just once, but two or three times, that’s something special. We as humans are drawn to the three-act story structure, and few things can display that better than a great film trilogy, with the introduction, middle, and conclusion all taking up one movie.
With this blog, I intend to take a look back at the many different film trilogies I have seen over the years, analyzing how they were made, why they turned out the way they did, and giving my own opinion on each one (yeah, this is gonna be very opinionated, so watch out! Though I’m hardly a film snob, so never mind…). I’ll also be looking at what kind of trilogy each one is, whether it is something that was always going to be a trilogy, or that it happened organically. There’s actually some debate over what actually counts as being a trilogy. I’ve heard arguments that as soon as a series goes beyond three movies, it can no longer be considered a trilogy, but I disagree. My definition of a trilogy is as follows: it is a self-contained series of three feature films that follow each other chronologically and have some sort of dramatic thread that spans all three, regardless of whether or not any more movies are made after them.
So, for example, I might do an analysis of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, even though there was a fourth movie. The first three movies follow Will Turner and Elizabeth and their love story (among many other things) and ends with their “happily-ever-after.” The fourth movie doesn’t involve them and is really just a stand-alone adventure (as well as a terrible movie) so it doesn’t change the fact, to me anyway, that the first three movies make up a single trilogy. Compare that to the Indiana Jones series, which I will not do an analysis of. Even if you ignore the fourth movie (which many people would love to do, though I have to admit I still kind of like it) the first three are only connected through one character, Henry Jones, Jr. The don’t have anything resembling an overarching story, making them more akin to the James Bond franchise, just with far fewer entries.
Some readers might not agree with this approach. That’s fine, since it really doesn’t affect all that much. Just think of any well-known series of three movies and I will probably cover it at some point. That is, unless I’ve never seen them, as in the case of the Godfather and Bourne trilogies. Oh geez, did I just admit to having never seen The Godfather? Uhhh….I guess I better end this before I get attacked by an angry mob or something. Come back soon, I’ll be working on the first analysis in the meantime.