Monday, August 11, 2014

TODAY'S NUGGET: Sabrina (1954) - Light as a Visual Stand-in

[Quick Summary: After loving David for years, a chauffeur's daughter now falls for his brother Linus.]

I bang my head against the wall much of the time asking one question:

"How do I write so I make the reader FEEEEEEL?!"

In this script, I saw a very unusual way that I'd not seen before.

Watch how the writers make you feel using LIGHT in this pivotal scene:

"INT. LINUS' OFFICE - DUSK

The room is in semi-darkness, lighted only by the magic of a late summer sky already fading into twilight.  [Late summer = dying light = dying relationship.]

The door opens and Linus enters with Sabrina.... He is a large figure dominating the foreground. Sabrina faces him from deep in the background, a very small figure.  [She is in shadow = uncertain.]

LINUS: All right, Sabrina. What is that perfectly good reason why you shouldn't be seeing me?

Sabrina stands silent, just looking at him.

LINUS: What is it? What's bothering you?

SABRINA: It's...(She hesitates. Then:) It's me that's bothering me.

Linus looks at her across the dimness of the vast room. Then he presses one of the many buttons on his desk and the office is flooded with light. [His action signals he is ready to shine a light on the situation.]

SABRINA: Please don't.

LINUS: I'm sorry.

He presses the button, and they stand in semi-darkness again. [She can't take the brightness = She's not ready to face the truth yet.]

SABRINA: I know I'm not making much sense, Linus..."

I was truly impressed because:

1) The writers  use physical light as visual stand-ins for unspoken emotions.
2) The scene is completely visual.
3) There are no metaphors ("light is a barrier") or similes ("light is like a sword").

WHAT I'VE LEARNED:  I was surprised how much the use of light affected me as I read.

I didn't realize how subconsciously I absorbed "semi-darkness" or "flooded with light".

Sabrina (1954)
by Billy Wilder, Samuel Taylor, & Ernest Lehman
Adapted from the play "Sabrina Fair" by Samuel Taylor

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