Friday, February 19, 2010

TODAY'S NUGGET: Scorsese's One Liner

On one of the morning talk shows today, Martin Scorsese mentioned that he wanted to make his latest movie, Shutter Island, in part because of this line: "Is it better to live a monster or die a good man?"

Wow. Now that's what I want to see in a script. One spectacular line that makes an A-lister salivate.

Mind you, I haven't seen the movie nor read the script, but I'm captivated by this one sentence.


It's got interesting characters - man or beast?

It's got universal conflict - I could be shunned, but still live, OR I could die a hero.

It contains an idea-action, i.e., the idea is monster vs. human, & the action is a man vacillating between both worlds.

It captures my imagination. The movie poster will capture the moment of indecision.

It's an easy sell. ex. "This is a modern day Jekyll and Hyde."

Wish I'd written that line...Or better yet - wish I'd written a script that Scorsese jumped on!

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: I've seen too many scripts that I can't boil down to one sentence. This tells me a one liner is still the gold standard.


Anonymous said...

Okay, here's another line from the screenplay...Ben Kingsley as Dr Cawley says, "I swore before the entire board of overseers that I could construct the most extravagant role-play in the history of psychiatry, and it would save you."

With that line, and the howls of laughter in the cinema, (with this and other lines) I had to wonder whether 'Shutter Island' was a joke of Scorcese's, a parody or not; was he pulling our leg, or not? In a film about what is real and what isn't, I guess that was apt.

David said...

So when you say "boil down to one sentence," you mean the thematic essence of the story, rather than the plot?

Name: Snark E. Snarky said...

I know this is a frustrating answer, but "it depends."

I don't like to put restrictions on the one sentence because it is whatever works. Sometimes the theme is catchy, sometimes it's the plot.

Hmmm...that'll be the blog post for today. Thanks for the idea!

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