Each film is only as good as its villain. Since the heroes and the gimmicks tend to repeat from film to film, only a great villain can transform a good try into a triumph. - Roger EbertTo me, this script stands out because of The Teacher, a cold and calculating villain.
1) The Teacher is a typical bad guy who enjoys the power play...
The Teacher keeps Annie (protagonist) in line by threatening her son Oliver.
This is a fairly typical setup, but his added pleasure in his work increases my disdain.
ex. "INT. RODNEY'S CAR - DRIVING - DAY
The Teacher stares at Annie's hand, till she forces herself to release his sleeve. He smiles.
THE TEACHER: Don't you trust the Teacher, Annie?
ANNIE: Yes. I trust you! Yes.
THE TEACHER: But it's like trusting in the whim of God, isn't it? This random Rodney, he does whatever he pleases. He just drifts...
He lets the car slide out into the left lane. The pastures are just a green smear, whipping by. Annie puts her wrist to her mouth, bites at it, staring through the windshield.
THE TEACHER: The least error, and you're plunged into hell...Annie, what if he should suddenly wake up and see he's in the wrong lane? He overcompensates -
He turns the wheel sharply and floors the accelerator, and suddenly, they're aiming straight at Oliver. Six hundred yards away...five hundred...
EXT. THE ROAD AHEAD - DAY
Oliver is on the right-hand shoulder, the same side as the car. As it roars down behind him, on a killing path, he is still unaware of it. Four hundred...Three hundred...
INT. RODNEY'S CAR - DRIVING - DAY
Annie is curled into a terrified ball, her feet almost on the dash. she claws at her own face, screaming.
ANNIE: OH GOD! OH GOD! PLEASE!
THE TEACHER: Who will protect you?
ANNIE: THE TEACHER!
THE TEACHER: Who will shield you?
ANNIE: THE TEACHER!
THE TEACHER: Did you say the judge?
ANNIE: NO! JUST YOU! JUST YOU! MY GOD! GOD! PLEEEEEAAASSSE!
She slams her hands against her door, the seat, her feet are kicking the dash, she is screaming, screaming, her eyes locked on that purple shirt dead ahead of them...."
2) ...But he's also emotionally involved (though may not recognize it).
This is what ups the ante. He seems rational. He think this is just business.
But the truth is that he's irrational, and it's very PERSONAL.
He cannot see himself objectively and deludes himself, which makes me curious to see what happens next.
ex. "INT. THE TEACHER'S COTTAGE - DAY
The Teacher stops the tape, rewinds, punches up the volume. When he plays this segment again, we can hear the SOUND very distinctly. It's Annie shushing her son.
ANNIE (on tape): Shh. (beat) Juliet? No. Do your homework.
The Teacher turns...
On ONE wall of the attic, across from his electronic racks, we see a visual catalogue of Annie's life. Photos of her house, grocery store, laundromat. Maps of her movements. Copies of photos we've seen in Annie's own house - friends relatives, Mickey. These artifacts are labelled, dated, cross-referenced, minutely annotated. The display is frightening, almost unhinged in its obsessive detail: the Annie Museum. Centered, almost like an altar, is a large facial closeup of Annie, and beside this, a grainy enlargement of her santos figure."
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: I like the irony that this villain thinks he is in control of everything, but cannot control himself.
The Juror (1996)(2nd draft dated 3/18/95)
by Ted Tally
Based on the novel by George Dawes Green
*Ebert also stated that this general principal applied to all epic serials, especially the "James Bond" movies.