I just saw this movie and really enjoyed it. It is one of those movies that stays with you and makes you think. My friend Jen Grisanti made a comment on her facebook wall that it didn’t follow a structure. It’s a really good point. It doesn’t follow the solid structure of hero stories but I still think there is a structure there. Here’s my version of how it follows a Virgin structure. I’m going from memory so there is a gap or two.
There are several parallel journeys here (part of what make sit compelling). Aibileen and Eugenia follow parallel Virgin stories and I’ll describe them both. Warning! Spoilers:
1. Dependent World: Aibileen is a maid in the southern US during the civil rights movement. Eugenia was raised by her maid and is home as her mother fights cancer.
2.Price of Conformity: Aibileen must endure long hours of work for low pay and raise other people’s children even while her son was young. Eugenia is staying with her family when she really wants to be starting her writing career in New York.
3. Opportunity to Shine: Eugenia sees the maids are treated poorly and she gets the idea it would make a great book. Aibileen is asked to contribute to Eugenia’s book and her minister preaches that it is time to be courageous.
4. Dress the Part: Eugenia comes to Aibileen’s house and notices how nice she looks in her own clothes.
5. Secret World: Secretly they write the story
6. No Longer Fits Her World: Hilly’s Maid is brutally arrested and Eugenia feels helpless and outraged. Eugenia discovers her mother is part of the problem. Rather than being passive they put an incriminating story about Hilly in the book to protect themselves.
8.Gives Up What Kept Her Stuck: Eugenia recognizes that she has to ask the hard question of her mother and discovers her Nanny died of a broken heart when mother fired her for displeasing a guest.
11. Chooses Her Light: Despite exposing how her family as a part of the problem, Eugenia sends the book to the publisher.
7. Caught Shining: The book comes out. Eugenia tells her boyfriend she is the author.
9. Kingdom in Chaos: Once supportive Boyfriend accuses Eugenia of being selfish and leaves her.
10. Wanders in the Wilderness: Hilly comes to Eugenia on the attack.
12. The Re-order: Eugenia’s mother sends Hilly packing and tells Eugenia she has never been prouder of her and she can go to New York because she has decided not to die.
13. The Kingdom is Brighter: Aibileen’s church group thanks her for her important contribution to the civil rights movement.
11. Chooses Her Light: Eugenia gets a job offer in New York and Aibileen and friend encourage her to go and do more good writing (13).
9. The Kingdom in Chaos: The community is reading the book and in a flap. Hilly accuses Aibileen of theft and pressures her boss to fire her which means the little girl Aibileen loves will be raised by a negligent mother.
11. Chooses Her Light: Aibileen stands up to Hilly very courageously.
10. Wanders in the Wilderness: Scared for what will become of the child, Aibileen is fired.
11. Chooses Her Light: Aibileen recognizes that she needs to be a writer and walks away.
I think it follows the structure rather well!