Script Analysis: “Hell or High Water” — Part 4: Theme

Read the script for the acclaimed indie crime drama and discuss this week.

Reading scripts. Absolutely critical to learn the craft of screenwriting. The focus of this bi-weekly series is a deep structural and thematic analysis of each script we read. Our daily schedule:

Monday: Scene-By-Scene Breakdown
Tuesday: Plot
Wednesday: Characters
Thursday: Themes
Friday: Dialogue
Saturday: Takeaways

Today: Themes.

I have this theory about theme. In two parts. First, a principle: Theme = Meaning. What does the story mean? Second, while there is almost always a Central Theme, there are multiple other Sub-Themes at play in a story. Therefore the question, What does a story mean takes on several layers of meaning?

Time to ponder themes in Hell or High Water. You may download a copy of the script here.

Written by Taylor Sheridan.

IMDb plot summary: A divorced father and his ex-con older brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family's ranch in West Texas.

Writing Exercise: Explore the themes in Hell or High Water. What is its Central Theme? What are some of the related Sub-Themes?

Major kudos to Andrew Lightfoot for doing this week's scene-by-scene breakdown.

To download a PDF of the breakdown for Hell or High Water, go here.

For Part 1, to read the Scene-By-Scene Breakdown, go here.

For Part 2, to read the Major Plot Points, go here.

For Part 3, to read Characters, go here.

Tomorrow we shift our focus to the script's dialogue.

Seize this opportunity and join in the conversation!

I hope to see you in the RESPONSE section about this week's script: Hell or High Water.


Script Analysis: "Hell or High Water" — Part 4: Theme was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

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