Friday, January 17, 2014

TODAY'S NUGGET: Dreamcatcher (2003) Part IIIA - Characterization

[Quick Summary: During their annual hunting trip, four childhood friends encounter an eerie being.]

In the forward to this shooting script, Stephen King writes:
[F]ilmmakers get blinded by the visual possibilities of sequences the want to adapt, and then they get their heads in a box: They believe they are making genre films.... The complexity of the story tends to get lost. So do the characterization and the tonal changes.
I tried (but failed) to write a single post about my reactions to the script.

So I divided them up in a terribly unoriginal manner:

1 - Characterization
2 - Tonal Changes (Make 'em Laugh and Scream)
3 - My (Embarrassing) Confession 

FYI: There are a few mild spoilers ahead. 

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1 - CHARACTERIZATION

Everyone talks about character, but what IS it?

So far, I gather that it's a combination of a person's motives, decisions, and reactions.

This script helped me by showing me fine character work in dialogue.

Note the subtext going on here:

ex. "HELICOPTER GUY (amplified): HOW MANY ARE YOU? HOW ME ON YOUR FINGERS. THIS AREA IS UNDER TEMPORARY QUARANTINE. YOU MUST STAY WHERE YOU ARE!

BEAVER: What do you mean, quarantine? We got a sick guy down here?

BEAVER and JONESY (overlapping): -- We need help here! -- Real sick guy here! --

JONESY: Take him with you now!

HELICOPTER GUY (booming on): GREAT YOU MUST NOT LEAVE. THIS AREA IS UNDER QUARANTINE.

BEAVER (screaming): What's so damn great? We got a guy here could be dying! We need some help!

GUY IN HELICOPTER (makes an A-OK sign): GLAD YOU'RE OKAY. THIS SITUATION WILL BE RESOLVED IN 24 TO 48 HOURS.

Stunned, Beaver and Jonesy watch the big copter fly away."

This is great because the audience must put 2 + 2 together: 

- The helicopter guy speaks in a helpful manner, but his (unspoken) message is "You're on your own."
- The men are reassured everything is under control, but see the lie and know there's a huge problem.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: "...Without character there is no horror, no laughter, no empathy, no nothing." - S.King

Dreamcatcher (2003)
by William Goldman & Lawrence Kasdan
Adapted from the novel by Stephen King

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