Tuesday, November 9, 2010

TODAY'S NUGGET: #22 WGA Script of All Time - Shawshank Redemption (1994)

[Quick Summary: Andy, a former banker, is incarcerated for killing his wife & her lover.  During his time in prison, he transforms his fellow prisoners... & then escapes.]

This is another dark script I didn't want to read. 

The bleakness of the movie still haunts me, and even though I saw it over 15 years ago.

But as I read the script, I realized that it was only Andy's hope & motive that made it palatable. 

Writer Frank Darabont is so skillful at laying out the character's wants/desires, then taking it away.

The character's motive is crystal clear, b/c we SEE why the character is acting the way he does.

ex. Young Tommy comes to prison.  Andy helps him get his GED & is so proud. (Hope)

Tommy tells Andy that he heard another con brag about killing Andy's wife & her lover.  Andy is innocent! (Hope.  Andy wants to be free.)

Andy tells the Warden, who selfishly wants to keep his free accountant.  The Warden has Tommy killed.  (Fear. Andy has lost someone he cares about again.)

Andy refuses to doctor the Warden's books any more.  The Warden threatens to everything Andy holds dear: his precious library, protection from physical assaults, etc. (Fear. Andy has nothing to lose now.)

Andy snaps...and we all know why now.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: This script is a great example of showing motive that both explains & propels us into the next act.

Andy's reaction shots (not necessarily his dialogue) were key.

Shawshank Redemption (1994)
by Frank Darabont

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