Monday, January 27, 2014

2014 Oscars: 12 Years a Slave (2013) - Tone of Hope; Visual Foreshadowing

[Quick Summary: After he is sold into slavery, Solomon Northrup, a free man, struggles to survive.]

I knew this story would be an emotionally tough read ... and it was.

However, I'll remember this script for two reasons:

1) A consistent tone of hope.

One of the main character's traits is hopeful.  When you read the script, it permeates every scene.

ex. "Solomon's confidence shifts, but to resolve rather than fear. Papers or none, he will not be easily cowed."

2) An excellent use of visual foreshadowing.

Foreshadowing is used to hint at something in the future.

Notice how the writer used it here to prepare the reader for a shift:  

ex. "Hamilton lingers a bit too long and a bit too close to Solomon for Brown's taste. [The ewwwww factor is high.]

With more than a bit of signification: 

BROWN: Hamilton! Nothing more we can do for him.

HAMILTON: Such is the pity.

Displaying an odd sort of disappointment, Hamilton slinks away from the bed. [Notice the choice of verb. This is going to get worse, isn't it?]

He crosses to, and BLOWS OUT A CANDLE. The room goes dark with a blackness more than night. [This visual sums up the present situation, as well as hints at the future too.]

Brown and Hamilton exit.

Solomon lays in the dark and moans. His sounds becoming MORE AND MORE DISTRESSED." [The crescendo in action = Definitely worsening.]

WHAT I'VE LEARNED:  Note to Self: Foreshadowing is a basic writer's tool from freshman English class.  Why haven't you used it more often?

12 Years a Slave
by John Ridley
Adapted from the memoir of Solomon Northrup

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