The-Revenant-Script-ReviewAn excerpt from my script review for The Revenant which will be available 01/11/16:

4.) Dialogue and Description

Okay, I glanced at this script and sighed, remembering the absolute WALLS OF TEXT Mr. Inarritu made me suffer through on the Birdman script.

A funny thing happened though. Was it too long in parts? Certainly, but then I noticed the trend of description and dialogue playing off each other. (Perhaps carried over from an earlier draft?)

Thinking this should be a requirement for any script, I began to wonder if I use it in my own writing. I hope I do at least.

What am I talking about? Here’s a few examples…

Page 19:

ANDERSON
Take it easy, Fitz.

But Fitzgerald isn’t interested in taking it easy…

FITZGERALD
I’m just sayin’… Savage is
savage.

Adopting this sort of style is fun!

You can say Fitz is mad, goes on a rant, etc. but by utilizing the dialogue just a second before that short sentence speaks VOLUMES about Fitzgerald’s demeanor and defines the delivery for the actor.

Here’s another:

HENRY
How do you know all this? What the
hell brought you out here to the
edge of the world?

Glass looks over at Henry, his mind somewhere else for a
moment, then…

GLASS
I like the quiet.

And that’s Glass’ way of telling Henry their conversation is over. Henry gives a little nod.

Glass begins to ignore Henry, that comment cuts Henry off, etc., but this simple sentence explains what just happened AND develops Glass’s character.

One more, page 66:

HENRY
Glad to hear you pulled your
weight, Mr. Bridger. I knew you
would.

FITZGERALD
More than his share, Captain. We
were partners.

And now Fitzgerald has snared Bridger into his lie. Bridger
drops his eyes to his feet.

Focus on “snared”. Now what is Fitzgerald’s profession?

Clever shit, right? Do your setting/characters influence the tone of your writing?

And there were good visuals. Nice dialogue, etc. etc.

The one minor criticism I have was that certain “intense” moments lacked the required tension they deserved.

Simple break in the format of all the “four line paragraphs” would have delivered a bigger emotional impact similar to what was experienced onscreen.

Page 23:

O.S. RUSTLING snaps his head up… to the TREMBLING OF
BUSHES… growing harder… whatever’s in there is coming
toward Glass. He calmly raises his rifle… presses the
stock firmly against his shoulder… closes one eye as he
takes steady aim down the long barrel…

…to the shapes rumbling out of the brush… TWO BEAR CUBS
playfully wrestling.

Glass lowers the Anstadt… looks past the cubs for something else… but the woods are empty. A SUDDEN FEAR FILLS GLASS’ EYES…

…he spins… right into the GIANT GRIZZLY SWINGING ITS PAW AT HIM…

Break it up…

O.S. RUSTLING snaps his head up…to TREMBLING
BUSHES…whatever’s in there is coming
toward Glass.

He calmly raises his rifle…stock firmly against his shoulder…closes one eye, steady aim down the long barrel…

RUMBLING from inside the bush…this is it…

…shapes emerge from the brush…

TWO BEAR CUBS

Wrestle playfully.

Glass lowers the Anstadt. We relax, he doesn’t.

He looks past the cubs for something…but the woods are empty.

Fear fills his eyes…he spins…

GIANT GRIZZLY PAW

Smashes into his face.

These images are all separate, and deserve to be broken up.

(Personally, I’d also avoid all the ellipses, but they were used throughout, and the movie was still made, so what the hell do I know?)

Another example from page 56:

The fire burns beside Glass, as he TEARS A SINGLE THREAD from
the cloth of the tattered blanket, and feeds it through a
tiny hole in a JAGGED, NEEDLE-SIZED SLIVER OF SHARPENED
ROCK… a makeshift needle and thread.

Glass goes to work on the open wounds of his chest…
piercing his skin with the rock… wincing with pain as he
tugs the thread through the fresh hole in his skin… pierces
the other side of the wound, then pulls the flesh tightly
together… before repeating the excruciating process all
over again… pierce… pull… pierce… tighten.

Glass is literally sewing his own flesh. That’s gruesome AND painful.

Make us FEEL THAT as we read it.

The fire burns beside Glass, as he TEARS A SINGLE THREAD from the cloth of the tattered blanket, and feeds it through a tiny hole in a JAGGED, NEEDLE-SIZED SLIVER OF SHARPENED ROCK.

Glass goes to work on the open wounds of his chest…
piercing his skin with the rock…

Wincing away pain, blinking back tears. Threading his own flesh must be done if he wants to survive.

Each fresh pierce of the skin is worse than the last, and he repeats the excruciating process all
over again on the remaining scars.

Pierce… pull… pierce… tighten.

Or something to that effect.

The goal here is to make sure interesting visuals that make our script worth the read aren’t getting lost in block after block of similar text.

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