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Article: Let Him Go (Story Structure/Breakdown)

Let Him Go Film Story Structure Breakdown Beat Sheet - Image from Movie

Let Him Go (Story Structure/Breakdown)

Screenplay written by Thomas Bezucha
Based on the book "Let Him Go" by Larry Watson

OPENING IMAGE - In 1961 Montana, James Blackledge, saddles his horse.

Point of Attack

The Blackledge family gather for breakfast - patriarch and retired lawmen George Blackledge, his wife Margaret, his son James, daughter-in-law Lorna, and James and Lorna's infant son, Jimmy. Later the same morning, Lorna prepares a bath for little Jimmy in the kitchen sink. Margaret admonishes Lorna for the water being too hot to bath the baby - establishing Lorna and Margaret's contentious relationship. The same day, George finds James dead, having fallen from his horse.

SET UP - When Jimmy is 3 years old, Lorna remarries a man named Donnie Weboy, and moves out of the Blackledge home. While running errands, Margaret witnesses Donnie abusing Lorna and Jimmy on the street.

Inciting Incident | Catalyst

Margaret goes to Lorna and Donnie's apartment, and discovers they have moved without notice to live with Donnie's family somewhere in North Dakota.

Call to Action (and Debate)

Margaret contemplates what to do. She packs the car with luggage and supplies, and waits for George to return home. When he arrives, Margaret tells George she has decided to find Jimmy, and bring him back to live with them in Montana. George argues against it - he does not believe Lorna will simply give her son to them.

First Turning Point | Plot Point 1

George reluctantly agrees to join Margaret (though his hidden intention is to allow Margaret to say goodbye to Jimmy, not to bring him home), and the two set out to find their grandson.

SUCCESS & FAILURE - Margaret and George enlist the help of Sheriff Nevelson in locating Donnie's family. The Sheriff gives them information about a Weboy relative who owns a saddlery. George and Margaret find the Weboy relative, Tucker, who inadvertently directs them to Gladstone, North Dakota. While stopping to rest in an isolated area outside of Gladstone, Margaret and George meet Peter Dragswolf, a young Native American Indian man, who lives alone with a horse. They camp with him for the night, and Peter tells them about a man named Bill Weboy who lives in town, but warns them to "go careful". Margaret and George locate Bill in town, who sets up a supper meeting that evening at the Weboy home. That night at their isolated ranch, the Blackledges meet the Weboy family: matriarch Blanche and her sons Elton and Marvin. Blanche insults the Blackledges, Donnie berates Lorna, and Blanche and Donnie are abusive toward Jimmy. The Blackledges are only given a few minutes with their grandson. When Margaret complains, the Weboys threaten the Blackledges, and Margaret and George leave.


Margaret and George secretly meet with Lorna in town, and ask to take both Lorna and Jimmy back to Montana to live with them. Lorna is afraid but promises to sneak out that evening with Jimmy, and meet them at their motel.

Crisis Point | Second Turning Point | Plot Point 2

The Weboys break into the Blackledge's motel room, assault the couple, and chop off George's fingers with a hatchet. The corrupt local Gladstone Sheriff will not help the Blackledges, telling them that "Jimmy is a Weboy now", and threatens that a "terrible accident" may befall their grandson if they don't leave town immediately.

REFLECTION & ENLIGHTENMENT - On the way out of town, George becomes too ill to continue on the road, and Margaret takes him to Peter Dragswolf's home. Peter shares a story with Margaret - he tells her that, when he was eight-years-old, government agents came and took him from his home and family to a school in Bismarck where they cut off his hair, washed him in kerosene, and beat him to "kill the Indian inside", which he says he believes they did accomplish because when he came home, he couldn't understand his grandmother's words anymore, and she couldn't understand him either. He states, "I don't belong any place." This reaffirms Margaret's belief in the importance of family, and she makes a new plan. Margaret tells George about her idea that she wants to move to North Dakota to be close to little Jimmy. George claims he is done and there is nothing they can do.

RUN UP TO CLIMAX - That evening Margaret sees George sneak out of Dragswolf's home and drive away. Margaret, realizing George plans to go to the Weboys and take Jimmy, wakes Peter, and the two of them set off on horseback to the Weboy ranch. Arriving at the Weboy home, George takes a shotgun from the front porch. He sets fire to the home as a distraction. George knocks out Donnie Weboy and helps a badly beaten Lorna and Jimmy escape, but in the melee with Bill Weboy, George loses his shotgun, and Blanche accidentally shoots and kills Bill. Blanche then shoots George. Blanche and George tussle over her gun, and George, controlling Blanche's hand on the gun to pull the trigger, shoots Marvin and Elton, killing them, as they come to her defense.

Climax | Final Confrontation

Margaret and Peter arrive as Lorna and Jimmy are fleeing the house. Margaret bounds into the home to try to help George, but Blanche shoots George again and kills him. Margaret finds the discarded shotgun that George dropped, and shoots Blanche dead. Peter pulls Margaret out of the burning home, as it burns to the ground.

Resolution | Denouement | Final Image

Margaret says goodbye to Peter - and Margaret, Lorna, and Jimmy drive home.

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