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Screenwriting's Top 5 Mind-Blowing Plot Twists

Who doesn’t love a great twist? Though not every film has or requires a twist, the ones that do are quite memorable. As obvious as it may seem, all of it comes down to writing, whether it’s something you never expected or is a twist that’s a staple of cinema. Hence, it’s beneficial to analyze some of the most mind-blowing twists in screenwriting history.

An exceptional movie can be elevated to a whole new level with an unexpected twist that catches everyone by surprise. Plot twists have the power to shock audiences or leave them feeling triumphant when they unravel a revelation that eludes others.

Throughout cinematic history, the most remarkable plot twists have left viewers glued to their seats, experiencing a mix of horror and awe as the story's truth finally unfolds. Now, let's explore some of the most unforgettable plot twists in the world of movies!

Still from 'Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back' (1980). Photo credit: Kismet Decals

Logline - An insomniac office worker and a devil-may-care soap maker form an underground fight club that evolves into much more.

Even people who haven’t seen Fight Club are aware of its twist involving its central character (or characters), played by Edward Norton and Brad Pitt. Norton’s character grapples with insomnia and a monotonous, unsatisfying life.

His life takes an unexpected turn when he befriends Tyler Durden, a charming soap salesman portrayed by Brad Pitt. Together, they establish an underground fight club as an outlet for men to vent their pent-up frustrations and aggression.

As the plot unfolds, the protagonist becomes increasingly intrigued by Tyler's anarchic ideology, urging people to reject societal norms and embrace chaos. However, as the movie reaches its climax, a stunning revelation emerges. The protagonist comes to the shocking realization that Tyler Durden is not an external individual but a manifestation of his own fractured personality. Doesn’t get much more iconic than that, eh?

Logline - An astronaut crew crash-lands on a planet where highly intelligent non-human ape species are dominant and humans are enslaved.

Planet of the Apes is a personal favorite of mine and a film I’ve cherished since I was a kid. In the film, a group of astronauts, led by Colonel George Taylor (portrayed by Charlton Heston), faces a fateful crash landing on an unfamiliar planet. To their astonishment, they encounter a society where highly intelligent apes are the dominant species, while humans are reduced to a primitive and voiceless state.

As the film progresses, Taylor and his fellow astronauts endure the cruel treatment and discrimination inflicted upon humans in this topsy-turvy world. Taylor, in particular, finds himself imprisoned and becomes a subject of scientific curiosity among the apes.

Eventually, Taylor manages to escape and ventures into a forbidden region, which gradually reveals itself to be the remnants of a once-thriving human city. There, he stumbles upon a half-buried Statue of Liberty, a powerful symbol of American freedom and democracy. In a moment of profound shock, he realizes that the enigmatic planet he has been exploring is, in fact, Earth itself, but in a post-apocalyptic state.

Logline - Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan.

Parasite garnished all the headlines in 2019, especially after sweeping the Oscars in 2020. The plot centers around two families hailing from starkly contrasting socioeconomic backgrounds. The Kim family, comprising Ki-taek, the father, Chung-sook, the mother, and their children Ki-jung and Ki-woo, resides in a cramped, semi-basement apartment in a low-income neighborhood. Their daily struggle to make ends meet pushes them to resort to petty scams and odd jobs for survival, eventually infiltrating small jobs for the Park family.

The pivotal twist emerges when the former housekeeper, Moon-gwang, unexpectedly returns to the Park family's home, unveiling a hidden secret about the mansion. This revelation sets off a chain of events that spirals out of control, exposing the film's profound social commentary on the impact of wealth disparity on human behavior.

Logline - Following the death of publishing tycoon Charles Foster Kane, reporters scramble to uncover the meaning of his final utterance: 'Rosebud.'

The classic opening scene of Citizen Kane is one that’ll continue getting analyzed for years to come. It’s impossible for anyone to guess the meaning of Rosebud, given the character of Charles Foster Kane. When it’s revealed “Rosebud" was the name of a sled that young Charles cherished during his childhood, the film’s impact is maximized.

Logline - After the Rebels are overpowered by the Empire, Luke Skywalker begins his Jedi training with Yoda, while his friends are pursued across the galaxy by Darth Vader and bounty hunter Boba Fett.

“I am your father,” is possibly the most quotable line in movie history, and it just so happens to be an excellent twist. On a deeper level, the quote reframes the conflict between good and evil in a much more personal, intimate context. Who doesn’t love Star Wars?


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