Monday, June 3, 2013

TODAY'S NUGGET: Donnie Brasco (1997) - Applause for a "Passive" Protagonist

[Quick Summary: In the 1970s, an undercover FBI agent seems to like mobster life than his real life.]

I loved how this script turns the definition of "active protagonist" on its head.

Donnie Brasco is one of the first undercover FBI agents in the NY mob.

His job is to gather intelligence and set out bait...and then wait for the prey to bite.

So on the surface, Donnie often LOOKS passive.

ex. At their first meeting, Donnie lets Lefty approach first.
ex. Donnie offers to help facilitate mob deals, but never initiates.

It's only later, however, that we realize this is Donnie's plan.

He is actually quite active behind the scenes.

ex. Donnie lets Lefty scold and teach him.  Lefty thinks he's in control.

ex. Donnie sets up a mole in the Florida mafia. He maneuvers Lefty into a meeting with the Florida mob. Lefty believes he is the Big Man.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Donnie's casual passivity disguises his activity.

This is how a good writer follows (and breaks) the rules.

Donnie Brasco (1997)
by Paul Attanasio
Based on the book, "Donnie Brasco," by Joseph D. Pistone with Richard Woodley

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