People assume climax is the ending of the plot or a movie. But it's actually not!

The climax is not the end of a movie or a literary work (not by default).

Something else ends the story explaining everything and sums up the central theme. It is called denouement!

Continue reading to become acquainted with this term.

If you want to know more about filmmaking - fear not! We have made an article on filmmaking 101, telling you about all of the basic things you need to know.

Denouement definition

What is denouement

Denouement is the ending of the story where the plot or the central theme of the script is revealed. Denouement is a French word that means 'untie the knot.'

This is related to unraveling the plots that the narrator has imbibed in his story. It gives the story an end or conclusion. It always comes after the climax. An example could be two lovers committing suicide.

Where to use denouement

  • Literature
  • Video games
  • Podcasts
  • Movies

Explicit denouement

When you see action by the character which offers or resolves an essential component of the tale, it is called explicit denouement. The end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is an excellent example of explicit denouement.

Implicit denouement

An implicit denouement is to end the plot with inaction but intimidating a resolution by the characters.

For example, in La La Land, the last scene is loaded with intense emotion, passion, and stunning images. The particular scene involving Mia and Sebastian brings their romance to a close. Sebastian and Mia accomplished their respective dreams only by the help each other, but at the expense of their friendship.


The 5 plot pyramid steps

According to German writer Gustav Freytag, denouement consists of five significant plot pyramid steps. Below are the five steps you should follow to build a plot pyramid.

  1. Introduction of the characters, main subjects, settings, and atmosphere of the film or story.
  2. When confrontations begin to escalate, which is called rising action.
  3. Climax where the disputes arise.
  4. Falling action occurs when a disagreement starts to settle, and a solution is near
  5. Denouement is when the problems are resolved and normality is restored.

What is the difference between denouement and epilogue?

  • Denouement is a required end to a structured struggle, whereas the epilogue is a discretionary afterword wherein the author shows viewers how the protagonists have prospered following the denouement.
  • An epilogue is a voluntary close just after the story has ended, whereas a denouement is a crucial moment in the storyline that permits the story to end.
  • An epilogue reveals how well the narrative's conclusion has influenced the protagonists over time. Anything in the epilogue is the outcome of a previous event addressed in the denouement.
  • A dispute could end without a conclusion, and an epilogue can never be written until the characters resolve the situation.

3 Examples of denouement in movies

You can find denouement in many movies. We will discuss three films with both implicit and explicit denouement.

1. The ending moment of "The Departed"

The ending moment of The Departed is an excellent illustration of this. This picture symbolizes that Sullivan was a rat, ending the "rats" motive throughout the film.

The mouse racing down the balcony railing is the implied conclusion. The act of Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) killing Sullivan (Matt Damon) and the resulting determination of the tragic demise can be called explicit denouement.

2. The finale of "Chinatown"

The finale of Chinatown is by far the most renowned illustration of an implied denouement in film.

The film's climax happens right before the scene when Evelyn (Faye Dunaway) gets shot in the eyes by the cops. Cross (John Huston) rescuing Katherine is indeed the explicit denouement (Belinda Palmer.)

This event provides Katherine's characterization a sorrowful finale by demonstrating that Cross fled raping his biological child and intended to do it again. The implied denouement is found in the Chinatown metaphor. Jake (Jack Nicholson), baffled by the abuses he's witnessed, is encouraged to "forget about it, that's Chinatown."

This necessitates the settlement of themes: the first is that some features of "the foreign" are incomprehensible. We have seen this addressed in conversation and actions throughout the film, including when Jake makes an embarrassing joke about the "Chinaman."


3. Blanche is compelled to accept the climax in "A Streetcar Named Desire".

Blanche is brought to a mental institution, absolutely unable to reverse her fate. Blanche has gone too far with that due to her harassment. Her inactivity foreshadows the movie's conclusion.

This denouement brings Blanche, Stanley, and Stella's relationship to a close. Blanche has no control over her situation. Stanley is pursuing Stella. Stella manages to flee. Stella remains to Stanley in the original script, which ultimately affects the dynamics of the finale. Instead of each receiving their conclusion, the deck is tilted towards Blanche, with Stella and Stanley remaining together.

Learn how to write a killer script

Denouement is the end of the story where the dispute is resolved. In contrast, an epilogue is the continuation of the plot after the end portraying how the characters' lives have changed after the end of the story.

Learn more. Learn how to write an epic denouement with a video script.

Denouement FAQ

What is denouement?

Denouement is the ending of the story where the plot or the main theme of the script is revealed.

What does denouement mean?

This is a french word which means ‘untie the knot.’

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