Monday, July 18, 2011

TODAY'S NUGGET: #71 WGA Script of All Time - Lion in Winter (1968)

[Quick Summary: King Henry II & his estranged wife Eleanor of Acquitaine battle over which son will succeed to the throne: his pick (weak teenager John), her pick (military Richard), or no one's pick (Geoffrey).]

Eleanor of Acquitaine has some @_#$)(*%&!! balls.

She's been imprisoned for 10 yrs., her husband has replaced her with a  mistress, she has weak sons, & her heart still aches for Henry.

Yet she is conniving & EXTREME in getting her son Richard on the throne. 

The best two moments in the script are when the stakes rise to unbelievably tense heights:

- After 10 yrs. in prison, Henry promises her freedom - if he gets the Acquitaine in exchange.  Unfortunately, the transfer would 100% ensure that Richard will not be king.  Will she give up her freedom for her son's throne (her goal)?

- Henry knocks her for a loop when he demands an annulment so he can marry his mistress, French princess Alais (who is actually intended as a wife for Richard). 

This shatters her.  Above all else, she prizes being important to Henry.  If he truly wants to cut ties with her, how will Eleanor deal with being unimportant to him?

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Stakes rise because the character is about to lose something of great importance.

Knowing your character's trigger points is extremely helpful.

Lion in Winter (1968)
by James Goldman (older brother of William Goldman)

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