Monday, July 24, 2017

TODAY'S NUGGET: Phantom of the Paradise (1974) - Showing Character Through Interactions

[Quick Summary: After a rock opera producer steals his music and his muse, an up-and-coming composer fights back to get everything that was stolen.]

I've read a lot of weird scripts in my day. This one is WEIRD.

Is it Bad Weird or Good Weird?

This is Good Weird, which was worth a second look because it had something worthwhile to say. (BTW, it took me at least 2/3 of the script before I got it.)

Notice how the writer show us what the characters stand for by using interactions:

- Swan (antagonist) is a creepy bastard, as seen by his interactions with the girls.
- Winslow (protagonist) is persistent, as seen by his disguise to meet Swan.

(FYI: If you read the scene below and feel creeped out, it's ok. That's the intent.)

ex. "INT. SWAN'S RECORD-SHAPED BED - NIGHT

Winslow, in drag, but determined to see Swan, lies on a massive water bed surrounded by skimpily clad singers.

GIRL ONE: When do we get to sing?
GIRL TWO: I don't think too much singing goes on here.
GIRL THREE: I've been here 12 times and I don't get to sing -- all I get is to come back.
GIRL FOUR: What do you do here?
GIRL THREE: You'll see.
GIRL FIVE: Can't you sing on your back?
GIRL SIX: I've never tried.
GIRL FIVE: Well, if you can sing standing up, you can sing lying down.
GIRL SEVEN: Why don't you take off your slip?
GIRL EIGHT: I'm waiting for Swan.
GIRL SEVEN: He won't miss anything, if you do it now.
GIRL FIVE: Yeah -- you're being auditioned right now.
GIRL ONE: What do you mean?
GIRL THREE (whispered): The whole place is bugged.
GIRL FOUR: You're kidding.
GIRL THREE: No...no, Swan is watching us right now...

Suddenly Dorian enters the room from his sunken bath. Winslow leaps up, confronting him.

WINSLOW: Mr. Dorian, you remember me. I'm Winslow Leach.
DORIAN: Who let this fag in here?! (yelling to the guards) Get her out of here!

Winslow rips off his wigs.

WINSLOW: Mr. Dorian! It's me, Winslow.

The guards arrive and grab hold of Winslow.

GIRL FOUR: Hurry up, we're cooling off fast.

Dorian turns his back on Winslow and lustfully approaches the bed.

WINSLOW: Don't you remember me? Mr. Philbin gave you the music of my cantata. You're auditioning girls for the chorus. I'm Winslow Leach! I wrote it!

The guards drag Winslow from the room as Dorian slips into the rapidly cooling flesh pile.

DORIAN (to Girl Four): Hand me that telephone."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: The reader can tell a lot about your protagonist (and antagonist) by how other characters react to him/her.

Phantom of the Paradise (1974)(dated 11/23/74)
by Brian De Palma

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