Monday, April 23, 2007


I recently received a comment on a piece here, on the second Dark Knight script piece, that called me 'sad' for making any kind of judgment about the film on the basis of a fraction of the script. I made a reply there, and I want to copy it here because I think it is an interesting debate.

If it truly is silly to a judge a film in ANY way on the basis of these sides, then nobody should EVER walk out of a film early, or make a judgment on whether or not they'd enjoy a film from the trailer, or from a book, perhaps that the film is based upon.

Here are the pieces I have: an understanding of Christopher Nolan's previous work, and his approaches to mise en scene, his blocking of scenes, his tendencies in montage and so on; an understanding of his brother's previous scripts; these pages.

They indicate something. Something inconclusive and sometimes vague, sure - but it is an indicator, for sure, of the final film.

Much like looking at somebody's grades before you hire them for a job. These grades simply do not and never can attest to this individuals abilty to do this job, but they DO indicate a likelihood of success or failure in certain, specific areas. Vaguely indicate, maybe - but indicate nontheless.

That was it. So, are people silly to be excited for, say, Transfomers after seeing the trailers? Or to find the Fay Grim poster intriguing and want to see the film on this basis? Can turning on the TV and catching a film part way through, then watching for three minutes until the commercial break interrputs ever actually tell you anything about the film? At all?

That's the argument. I look forward to receiving any comments.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Brandon. If we didn't think these scripts sides wouldn't tell us something about the film then we wouldn't bother reading them in the first place. We'll all making judgements on the basis of these script sides and thats all Brandon is doing too. We don't have to agree with him.

Mark H Wilkinson said...

I look at it this way: the sight of a meal, knowledge of its ingredients or the process by which it's produced, familiarity with the cook who's making it, or recommendations from others who've had it, are reasons one might be influenced to partake of said repast. But you won't really *know* anything until you smell the damn thing in front of you and start eating.

What you have done, however, is bitten into a slice of raw potato and made judgements about the final product, about which you otherwise know relatively little -- it might feature Lyonnaise, or it might just be a bit of a hash. So, I can understand why someone might feel you were in the 'silly' camp.

Oh, a couple more things: one should never walk out of a film early unless there's a sound, practical reason for doing so (eg. if cinema is on fire or a member of staff spots that digital camera you've smuggled in to create bootlegs); any film buff worth their salt would stay to the end, no matter how bitter. Neither should anyone judge whether they'd enjoy a film by its trailer or the book on which it is based -- both are hideous reasons to think a film might be good or otherwise.

Brendon said...

In response to mark h wilkinson:

I think you'd be right if, indeed, I only had a piece of raw potato to go on.

I have quite an extensive set of script pages - more telling than a potato (I'd say these pages are comparable to half of a recipe's ingrediant list); quite some experience of the chef's previous cooking; a lot of knowledge of how to cook myself.

So, a raw bit of potato contains far less information pertaining to a finished meal than these pages do to a film.

Are you honestly telling me that these pages don't indicate anything?

I'd be the first to admit the film answered all of my fears and disproved all of my suppositions. But for now, these fears and suppositions stand, as just that: fears and suppositions.

How they're silly, I don't know.

Mark H Wilkinson said...

Are you honestly telling me that these pages don't indicate anything?

What you infer from the evidence you have, and what you eventually take from the finished product, may be contradictory -- you've admitted that much already. The question is whether you're extrapolating too much from the data set in your possession.

My answer to that: hell, yes.

Brendon said...

That's a brilliant summation of the question, actually.

Am I extrapolating too much from the data set already in my posession?

I really don't think I am. Well, not publically anyway. My published extrapolations, for want of another term, are quite slight, I think.

Maybe it seems like I'm saying more than I actually am. Much of what I offer is really on commentary on these pages in and of themselves.

Andy said...

I think those pages sound pretty good, actually. Jail cells, back alleys, I can hear the rainwater trickling into the gutters as a I read it.

The only duff line is the sotto voice "...and you killed six of my friends'.

That would be much better if it were the cop struggling to word his reponse, not sure if he should answer, then just saying "six", with a sneer. Cue the prisoner mouthing "oooooooo... SIX....." silently and nodding and grinning. But the rest is good.