Updated: Oct 21, 2019
The Magician stage on the wheel is the culmination and revelation about important relationships in the hero’s life. It is a game-changer, the point at which lightning strikes and the whole truth is as clear as can be. The hero cannot pretend or lie to himself anymore.
In screenwriting structure, and in particular in the three-act paradigm, this point is well known as the most important turning point: The Second Act Turning Point. In four-act feature film structure you can find it at the end of the third act on the wheel (The Third Act Turning Point) or around 1 hour 30 minutes into a two-hour-long movie.
During the Orphan stage, the hero always realizes that he can’t be so indecisive any more, that for real life to happen, he has to recognize who or what his heart longs for.
This realization or recognition always becomes clear during the Magician stage:
something extraordinary happens to help the hero decide. It is a truly magical moment in the film. This magic is never a decision – but rather a change of fate… or the law of attraction in action. This is why I call it ‘the lightning’ as it comes from above.
Something that maybe the hero was hoping for, but never really believed was possible, or something that the hero couldn’t imagine is his worst nightmares… suddenly happens so fast (because the Magician is the fastest of all archetypes) that just leaves the hero and the audience with an ‘Oh’ on their faces. It can be a real kiss, or the hero’s opponent can die here.
Many times, this point is connected to someone or something dying.
The hero can also find something out that was secret. Maybe it is just a huge release of energy. No matter what the plot requires – it is always a big electric turning point, especially in terms of relationships.
Also, note that the Magician turning point stands as a mirror opposite to Midpoint/the Ruler on the wheel!
It can be one scene, a sequence or just a moment, but it always results in some form of insight.
The hero attracts someone he belongs with and the whole structure of his life suddenly changes. It’s an official change of mind and change of course for the hero. It is also the key to understanding the hidden meanings of the film.
In screenwriting theory, it is well known that the second act turning point usually comes in two ‘strokes’, but here on the wheel, it is clear what stage is used for what part of emotional revelation and every ‘stroke’ has its purpose and its name. The Magician stands for the magical revelation, and the Caregiver is an emotional breakdown that usually happens as a result of that revelation.
That means that the Caregiver is actually the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ moment – where the hero is at his lowest point. It seems that he is all alone and abandoned: ‘on the cross.’ When you shape the Magician stage in your script, just have in mind that the Caregiver is closely linked, emotionally, to this stage.
INTERESTING STUFF ABOUT THE MAGICIAN:
It is just incredibly interesting how belonging (even if it is just romantic) is always linked to social structure. During the Magician stage, the hero suddenly also realizes where he belongs in society. He is well aware of all of the layers, and he can see himself as part of humanity. He knows what role he plays, and how this role is important for everyone around him. He can see himself as the player for the greater good.
Here you can read the entire post about the third act where you can find out more about belonging!
The Explorer is the opposite archetype and brings up another important question for the hero and for the structure at this point.
If this is the revelation (whatever it is), is it going to shape the hero’s belief structure differently? And if so, how? The single most important thing to bring into this new world, new life, new story, is a new belief structure.
For example, if the hero believes that it is only possible for him/her to be with partners who are not loving, then this is what will be. If the hero finally sees that from now on he belongs with loving partners, then this is exactly what can change his life. And eventually, this belief can also shape society differently.
Magician --> Explorer formula:
Magic comes from above! The hero finally sees, he knows exactly where he belongs --> It’s now time to change the belief structure.
Birds are attacking the whole town and Melanie is not welcomed. People think those attacks have something to do with her, and of course, this is not true. She has to prove something on a much grander scale than just to Mitch’s mother.
Do you know what is the peak point of the Magician? Annie is dead. Melanie’s competitor is out of her way now. Real shock. And it comes as a surprise and from above. The Universe is rearranging things for Melanie.
MIDPOINT: Mitch and Melanie have sex. Mitch’s mom is furious.
MAGICIAN: Annie saves Mitch’s sister, and dies afterward. Melanie is closer to victory, she is part of the family now. (Death*)
‘The Magician’ is beautifully orchestrated, a truly eye-opening scene. Mia comes to Conor’s home when no one is there. She breaks in and by watching what’s taped on the camera, she suddenly realizes Conor is a dad, he has a wife and a daughter. What a shock!
While Mia’s mother lives on social security, Conor belongs to the middle class, so basically, this is the reason he can behave like a predator, without ever paying for what he did.
RULER: Mia sees Conor and her Mom having sex.
MAGICIAN: Mia realizes Conor has a family.
Majid commits suicide in front of Georges. The only way he can get to him is by serving him (and his class) until the end and even kill himself because of (or for) him. A shocking scene.
RULER: Georges is visiting Majid, he thinks that he is the one who is sending the tapes.
MAGICIAN: Majid says he was not sending the tapes, he kills himself. (Death*)
Everything starts when Joe kisses Betty’s nose. Now he knows: ‘I belong with Betty, I belong writing with her’… (In the previous post, you can find a longer explanation about social belonging that was presented in this scene).
Joe also knows that the letters Norma is receiving are fake; Max was the one who was sending them.
The peak of Magician: Betty suddenly reveals she is not in love with her fiancé anymore, she is in love with Joe. They kiss each other because they are in love!
MIDPOINT/RULER: Joe kisses Norma.
MAGICIAN: Joe kisses Betty.
*Here the Magician is the positive lightning. It is the highest point compering to the tragic ending that is coming.
Ask yourself what kind of lightning has to strike your hero for him to finally realize where his place is in the world.
P.S. For those of you who are writing with Intuitive Screenwriting, let me just tell you that I am so grateful for you! It was truly a remarkable journey and I hope we also learned something new!
Intuitive Screenwriting Blog is now taking a short break. Before we see each other again, for the fourth and final act on the wheel, I wish you all a very pleasant summer. Till September, stay creative and stay well!