El Mariachi

Comprehensive Storyform

The following analysis reveals a comprehensive look at the Storyform for El Mariachi. Unlike most of the analysis found here—which simply lists the unique individual story appreciations—this in-depth study details the actual encoding for each structural item. This also means it has been incorporated into the Dramatica Story Expert application itself as an easily referenced contextual example.

Story Dynamics

8 of the 12 essential questions

Main Character Resolve

El Mariachi changes from a soft-spoken musician in search of love and luck, to a cold blooded killer, gunning down Moco for revenge.

Main Character Growth

El Mariachi must stop living in a dream world and prepare to face the harsh realities of a drifter’ s existence:
“All I wanted was to be a mariachi like my ancestors. But the city I thought would bring me luck, brought only a curse. I lost my guitar, my hand, and her. With this injury I may never play the guitar again. Without her, I have no love. But with the dog, and the weapons, I’m prepared for the future.” (Rodriguez, 1993)

Main Character Approach

El Mariachi travels from town to town soliciting work as a mariachi; when pursued, he is not afraid to fight back; when he finds out Domino is looking for him at Moco’s ranch, he goes after her at risk to himself.

Main Character Mental Sex

El Mariachi understands his problem of being pursued is caused by a case of mistaken identity.

Story Driver

Moco’s failed knock-off attempt of Azul, and Azul’s subsequent escape from jail, renews the hatred between the two men and begins a war that El Mariachi finds himself unwittingly caught up in.

Story Limit

After Moco shoots off El Mariachi’s guitar playing hand, takes the life of Domino, then commits the ultimate insult of laughing at him, El Mariachi feels he has no choice but to kill him.

Story Outcome

All the primary objective characters die, except for El Mariachi, whose outlook on life is irrevocably changed for the worse.

Story Judgment

El Mariachi matures into a man prepared for all eventualities.

Overall Story Throughline

""A Case of Mistaken Identity""

Overall Story Throughline

Moco and Azul wage their war, and in a case of mistaken identity, El Mariachi is inadvertently a part of it.

Overall Story Concern

Moco wants to obtain full control of the town, in order for this to happen, he must eliminate Azul; Azul wants to obtain the cut he feels he deserves from a prior criminal activity with Moco; El Mariachi wants to obtain a position as a mariachi; Domino is interested in having a relationship with El Mariachi (and visa versa).

Overall Story Issue

There is no morality in a town ruled by the tyrannical Moco; in his quest to recover his share of the money, Azul has no qualms about killing men who get in his way, or, allowing El Mariachi to die in his place; and so forth.

Overall Story Counterpoint

Overall Story Thematic Conflict
Self-Interest vs.Morality

Overall Story Problem

Moco pursues Domino’s affections to no avail; Azul’s pursuit of his share of the cash puts his life (and El Mariachi’s) in danger and ultimately results in his own death; it is dangerous for El Mariachi to seek out Domino at Moco’s ranch.

Overall Story Solution

If Moco had left his feelings for Domino well enough alone, and accepted her romance with El Mariachi, they would still be alive; if Domino had avoided Moco, El Mariachi would not have had to follow her, putting his life in more danger; if, after escaping jail, Azul had ignored his greed and avoided Moco altogether, he would still be alive; and so forth.

Overall Story Symptom

Moco is focused on controlling the town, as an example of this, he orders his men to kill Azul, resulting in their own deaths and depleting his ranks; Domino would like to be in full control of the bar she owns, free of any obligation to Moco; and so forth.

Overall Story Response

Bandits shoot up the town; El Mariachi cannot control the men who after him; Azul cannot control his own men, who he is counting on to protect him; as Moco is the only person to know what Azul looks like, and he is removed from the action, he has no control over his men pursuing the wrong man in black; and so forth.

Overall Story Catalyst

Azul’s straightforward approach to seek Moco out moves the objective story forward.

Overall Story Inhibitor

Both Moco and Azul’s bandits’ failure to follow through in their obligations to their respective bosses impedes the objective story’s progress. As an illustration, when Azul’s men see that he is captured by Moco’s thugs, they run.

Overall Story Benchmark

As Moco’s men determine there is more than one man dressed in black, they must conduct an identification process to find the right man.

Additional Overall Story Information →
Overall Story Throughline Synopsis

A young mariachi drifts into a Mexican town hoping to obtain a gig, but instead finds himself caught up in a case of mistaken identity by two rival outlaws.

Main Character Throughline

El Mariachi — Musician

Main Character Throughline

El Mariachi finds himself in a predicament of mistaken identity.

Main Character Concern

El Mariachi is concerned with his future as guitar player and singer, by the end of the story he is confident that he is prepared for any dangerous situations that may befall him in the future.

Main Character Issue

As soon as El Mariachi realized he was in a bad situation, he had the choice to leave town, however, because of Domino, he chose to delay.

Main Character Counterpoint

Main Character Thematic Conflict
Delay vs.Choice

Main Character Problem

In a case of mistaken identity, El Mariachi is pursued by Moco’s men.

Main Character Solution

El Mariachi must avoid the men who think he is Azul, or get out of town altogether.

Main Character Symptom

Domino gives El Mariachi much needed moral support in his future career.

Main Character Response

El Mariachi is opposed to the men hunting him down, and once he is in love with Domino, he is opposed to Moco’s hold over her.

Main Character Unique Ability

If Moco’s men had listened to El Mariachi tell the truth about himself, he would not have been pursued.

Main Character Critical Flaw

Moco’s men are on the lookout for Azul, described as a man dressed in black, carrying a suitcase full of guns. They refuse to look past this description to make certain they have found the right man, which causes many problems for El Mariachi.

Main Character Benchmark

El Mariachi’s progress in obtaining steady work as a musician is the standard by which he judges the degree of his concern.

Additional Main Character Information →
Main Character Description

Handsome, young, romantic; in search of love and luck

Main Character Throughline Synopsis

El Mariachi arrives into town looking for love, luck, and above all, steady work as a musician. What he finds instead is himself caught up in a situation of mistaken identity that can cost him his life. Although he fails in his goal, he does leave town a man, “sadder but wiser,” and prepared for the future.

Influence Character Throughline

Moco — The outlaw who rules the town.

Influence Character Throughline

Moco is convinced he is ruler of the town.

Influence Character Concern

Moco is concerned with retaining control of the town and attaining Domino’s love.

Influence Character Issue

Moco expects everything to go his way, including his dream of attaining Domino.

Influence Character Counterpoint

Influence Character Thematic Conflict
Hope vs.Dream

Influence Character Problem

Moco’s logic does not take into account other people’s emotions.

Influence Character Solution

If Moco were able to have an emotional sense of how things were going, he would still be alive.

Influence Character Symptom

Moco’s determination to retain control over the town includes his plan to eliminate Azul, which causes problems for El Mariachi, the man mistaken for Azul; Moco’s determination to attain Domino also causes problems for the musician, as he is in love with her as well.

Influence Character Response

Moco issues the order to kill Azul, then allows his men to follow through however they see fit, which essentially gives them free reign to go on a rampant, frenzied, shooting spree.

Influence Character Unique Ability

Moco can end El Mariachi’s life.

Influence Character Critical Flaw

Moco’s unwillingness to reevaluate the seemingly ineffectual musician, results in his death.

Influence Character Benchmark

Moco expects his drives and desires to be immediately taken care of, as this happens less and less, he becomes more and more impatient and short-tempered.

More Influence Character Information →
Influence Character Description

Cold, greedy, suave

Influence Character Throughline Synopsis

Moco is a man determined to be in control. This includes the town, his rival Azul, and Domino, the object of his affections.

Relationship Story Throughline

""Blue Eyes vs. Soul Man""

Relationship Story Throughline

Moco doesn’t think El Mariachi is macho enough to retaliate against him, but after suffering pursuit, the death of his love, his hand shot off, and Moco’s ridicule, El Mariachi’s way of thinking has changed.

Relationship Story Concern

Moco is angry when he realizes El Mariachi has become Domino’s lover.

Relationship Story Issue

Moco is committed to remaining a bad guy to the point of killing the woman he loves; El Mariachi feels it is his responsibility to avenge Domino’s death by wasting Moco.

Relationship Story Counterpoint

Relationship Story Thematic Conflict
Commitment vs.Responsibility

Relationship Story Problem

El Mariachi and Moco pursue the same woman.

Relationship Story Solution

If El Mariachi had avoided a romance with Domino, Moco would have no reason to kill her and maim the guitar player, conversely, if Moco had respected Domino’s wish to avoid him, the ensuing carnage would not have happened.

Relationship Story Symptom

Moco has complete faith in his omnipotence; he feels he can humiliate El Mariachi with no chance of retribution.

Relationship Story Response

Moco refuses to believe that El Mariachi is a worthy adversary.

Relationship Story Catalyst

Domino’s excuses to Moco why she cannot see him, serves to arouse his suspicions about another man and propel El Mariachi’s and his relationship forward at a faster rate.

Relationship Story Inhibitor

It is Domino’s attitude toward Moco (her initial refusal to go to him) that keeps El Mariachi and Moco from meeting.

Relationship Story Benchmark

El Mariachi must be a macho man to stand up to Moco.

Additional Relationship Story Information →
Relationship Story Throughline Synopsis

Moco and El Mariachi come into conflict over their love for Domino.

Additional Story Points

Key Structural Appreciations

Overall Story Goal

The goal of common concern to the objective characters is Moco’s control of the town.  To maintain this control, Azul, the man dressed in black, must be eliminated.  Moco, his bandits, and the townspeople who are under Moco’s thumb are for it; El Mariachi, who is mistaken for Azul, and Domino who fears for the musician, are against it (at least until the case of mistaken identity is cleared up); Azul and his bandits and women are also against it.  Moco loses control of the town once he is killed by El Mariachi, resulting in the story’s failure.

Overall Story Consequence

Death is the result of failing to achieve the goal.

Overall Story Cost

Fear is the cost incurred while trying to achieve the goal-the townspeople live in fear of Moco and his men; Moco’s men fear his wrath when they botch up his orders; Azul’s men fear his anger; El Mariachi and Domino fear he will be killed by mistake.

Overall Story Dividend

Azul escapes prison and believes he will soon obtain his fair share of the loot; El Mariachi and Domino enjoy a romance than could mean a future for them; El Mariachi enjoys the applause of the audience, signaling they would like to hear more of his music in the future; Moco sends gifts to Domino in hopes of a future relationship; and so forth.

Overall Story Requirements

Moco’s men must track down the man in black.

Overall Story Prerequisites

Moco’s men must be killers.

Overall Story Preconditions

Moco’s men must be in a constant state of readiness, their reflexes ready to kill or to exercise restraint.

Overall Story Forewarnings

The growing body count is a forewarning of the story’s consequences.

Plot Progression

Dynamic Act Appreciations

Overall Story

Overall Story Signpost 1

Azul learns from his jail cell that Moco has taken over a nearby town; Moco learns his men were unsuccessful in their attempt to kill Azul, and now he is free and coming after him for his share of the loot; El Mariachi learns it’s going to be difficult to find steady work in the new town; and so forth.

Overall Story Signpost 2

The hotel manager acts on instructions and notifies Moco that a man in black carrying a guitar case has just checked in; Moco’s men are intent on executing the man in black; El Mariachi is concerned with defending his life; and so forth.

Overall Story Signpost 3

Azul wants his money; El Mariachi needs to get his deposit back from the hotel; Moco’s men try to waste the true Azul; and so forth.

Overall Story Signpost 4

After Domino has talked to Moco, she and El Mariachi understand the situation, the players, and what it all means; Moco understands Domino loves the mariachi and has no intention of giving herself to him; Azul cannot understand how his men think he could have defended himself against three armed men with only a guitar; until Domino explains, El Mariachi doesn’t understand how she can own a bar and still be poor; and so forth.

Main Character

Main Character Signpost 1

El Mariachi wants to learn how to perform as well as his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather have in the past.

Main Character Signpost 2

El Mariachi bemoans the fact technology has made the mariachi obsolete.

Main Character Signpost 3

If El Mariachi is successful playing in Domino’s bar, he will have a future for his career; he flirts with a romantic future by singing a love song to Domino.

Main Character Signpost 4

El Mariachi hides out, hoping the current situation will resolve (it doesn’t); he is concerned for Domino out at Moco’s ranch; in his present condition he does not know if he can continue his mariachi career; and so forth.

Influence Character

Influence Character Signpost 1

Moco promises Azul he won’t forget their past triumphs, but meanwhile sends his gang to eliminate him.

Influence Character Signpost 2

Moco’s immediate response to the news Azul got away is not to worry, he is confident his men will find him with his description of Azul as a man always dressed in black carrying a guitar case.

Influence Character Signpost 3

Moco wants revenge from Azul for killing his ten men.

Influence Character Signpost 4

Moco considers Domino has betrayed him; he does not consider El Mariachi a threat.

Relationship Story

Relationship Story Signpost 1

El Mariachi appears to be the man Moco’s men are looking for.

Relationship Story Signpost 2

Unbeknownst to Moco, El Mariachi has become Domino’s lover, affecting her relationship with Moco and establishing the source of conflict between the two men.

Relationship Story Signpost 3

Moco’s notion to see through his battle with Azul causes conflict for El Mariachi.

Relationship Story Signpost 4

El Mariachi realizes that Moco has set about winning Domino’s love with material gifts-El Mariachi can only do so with original music created for her; once Moco understands he has lost Domino to the musician, he formulates a plan to exact revenge by shooting off the guitar player’s hand.

Plot Progression Visualizations

Dynamic Act Schematics


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