Monday, February 23, 2015

2015 OSCARS: American Sniper (2014) - Clarity is So Important

[Quick Summary: The journey of US sniper Chris Kyle to Iraq and back home.]

I...I..I have no words for this script.

It's not your typical war story.  (I was surprised. It's a character study).

It is emotionally costly. (I was unprepared).

It takes you to the front lines of responsibility. (I was floored).

I was interested to hear that both Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood worked on this project.

They gave the writer one overarching note: Clarity.*

I saw it everywhere, even in the small scene below.

Notice the clear intent to convey what the brotherhood feels like:

ex. "INT. HUMVEE #2 - TWO DAYS LATER

Chris looks to Marc Lee, eyes closed in prayer. When he opens them he sees Chris looking. The rig sways.

MARC LEE: I went to seminary school before I joined the Navy. Came close to being a preacher.

CHRIS: Why didn't you?

MARC LEE: I love to gamble, man. Love those dice.

Their laughter is liberating. It bonds them.

CHRIS: My kind of preacher.

MORE LAUGHTER. A PHONE RINGS. Chris digs out a SAT PHONE.

MARC LEE: It's like that now, huh?

CHRIS: You haven't heard? I'm The Legend. (laughs at self; into phone) Hey babe --

TAYA (O.S.) You were right, doctor says it's a boy.

CHRIS: It's a boy!

MARC LEE: Hell yeah. Congratu--

WHAAP! Windshield spiders."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Even with complicated shooting scenes, I could always follow what was at stake.

That's good clear writing.

American Sniper (2014)
by Jason Hall
Based on the book by Christ Kyle with Scott McEwen & Jim DeFelice

*The writer further explains:"[C]larity of purpose, clarity of intention, clarity of emotion. What are they saying? What's the feeling? What are you trying to get out? What are you trying to say?"

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