Monday, August 22, 2016

TODAY'S NUGGET: Blow Out (1966) - Challenging Script = Thinking Outside the Box

[Quick Summary: A swingin' 1960s London photographer thinks he may have photographed a murder in progress.]

I hate stale, lazy writing.

To stay fresh and sharp, I will occasionally pick a thought provoking, challenging, often thorny, script to read.*

This script meets all those criteria.

It was a game changer in 1966 (mostly for the graphic nudity), and captured the feel of 1960s London.  I think its themes of youth and ennui are still relevant.

So why is this script challenging?  Well, it has a thriller feel, but no firm solution. You can't read this for the format (paragraphs of action). People move around, but not much happens on the outside.

"Wait! We aren't supposed to do that!" you say.

Yes, and this is where the script requires you to work a little harder.

You have to suspend every thought of "What's the point?" and just go on the ride.

For example, I learned that the writers are not all that interest in plot (setups and payoffs).  They are interested in realism and a character wakening to an internal life.

They don't care about answers. They do want you to walk away feeling deeply.

ex.  "GIRL: I... I've come... I've come for the photographs.

Thomas eyes her curiously.

THOMAS: Well, how did you manage to find me?

The girl avoids his eyes.

GIRL: Do you live here?

THOMAS: Mmm....

Thomas switches on a few scattered lights, motions her to sit down, and switches on the record player. The music is a very slow guitar.

THOMAS: Drink?

She wanders about as if looking for something.

Without waiting for her to answer he pours two whiskeys, and turns in her direction with the glasses.

THOMAS: What's so important about my bloody pictures?

Camera follows Thomas as he goes up to her, now settled on the couch, to give her the glass. She holds him with her eyes.... Doesn't take the glass.

GIRL: That's my business.

Thomas puts her glass down. She gets up and stands stiffly opposite him. Both are obscured by an overhead beam. Close-up of Thomas, drinking and saying as if recollecting a pleasant memory:

THOMAS: The light was very beautiful in the park this morning. Those shots should be very good. Anyway, I need them.

Close-up of the girl, leaning against a cross-beam. She is tense, insisting...

GIRL: My private life's already in a mess. It would be a disaster if...

She moves away."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: This script taught me that it's possible to move an audience, without things I expect (3 act format, answers neatly tied up, etc.) 

A new tools to use now!

Blow Out (1966)
by Michelangelo Antonioni & Tonino Guerra

* I like the superb blog Cinephilia and Beyond, which often points me to films and directors that I have not heard of before, and probably would not ordinarily find.


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