Friday, July 1, 2011

TODAY'S NUGGET: #74 WGA Script of All Time - Being John Malkovich (1999)

[Quick Summary: A puppeteer begins work at a short, rather hum-drum office, and discovers a portal directly into actor John Malkovich's head.]

The reason why Charlie Kaufman is on this danged list three times is because he writes stuff like this:

INT. CAR - NIGHT

Lotte drives. Craig looks out the window. Both are silent.

LOTTE (finally): Is the trial date set?
CRAIG: May 11th.

More silence.

LOTTE: Why'd you do it, Craig?
CRAIG: I'm a puppeteer.

In that small scene, the audience knows who Craig is. 

He's a guy who takes risks, lives on the edge, & connects with others through a weird passion for puppeteering. 
He's got a wife who isn't on the same wavelength.
He's kind of crazy, but not insane. 
He's going to get in a lot of trouble (& drive the action) because he has this pent up need to express himself, & makes unwise decisions.

So why do we root for Craig? And, more importantly, how did Charlie Kaufman do that?

Kaufman wrote Craig as a man doggedly pursuing a hope & a longing to connect. 

Craig may make unwise decisions, & fail, & encounter unbelievable things, but he never has a false moment.  And that is why Craig is universally understood.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: I don't have to like the character, or his decisions or actions, but I DO have to understand him.

Being John Malkovich (1999)
by Charlie Kaufman

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