Monday, April 6, 2015

TODAY'S NUGGET: The Birdcage (1996) - Hold Off Releasing the Tension

[Quick Summary: Flamboyant, gay nightclub owners meet their son's financee's straightlaced parents for the first time.]

This script is a smooth read.

In fact, it's so smooth that I didn't realize how fast I was turning pages.

For example, I thought the conflict below happened over 1-2 pages.  It actually happens over five pages. 

One thing that kept me turning was that the tension was not released too soon.

Notice how the tension hovers for four pages * (p. 35-39):

SETUP: (p. 34-35)
 - Val gets engaged to Barbara Keeley. Her father is a super-conservative politician.
 - Val comes home to ask dad, Armand, to pretend he's not so flamboyant for the first meeting with Barbara's parents. This requires a change in clothes, furnishings, etc.

DECISION IS MADE: Armand turns Val down. (p. 35)

*TENSION RISES: (p. 35-38)
- Meanwhile, tabloid reporters surround the Keeley house
- Keeleys escape the media circus.

*EFFECT OF TENSION
: (p. 38-39)
- Armand moody at work.
- Val sits in his room, hopeless.

*TENSION RELEASED: (p. 39)
- Val hears Armand in the next room: "Agador....We're redoing the apartment for tomorrow night. Goddamn it!"
- "Val sits up, slowly, his eyes brightening." [I like that we SEE (not told of) his dad's love.]

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Don't be afraid to hold off on releasing the tension.

The Birdcage (1996)(shooting script)
by Elaine May

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