From Script to Screen will analyze the iconic and monumental moments in produced screenplays from all across the cinematic landscape and address how filmmakers improved or even hindered the written word by examining these three areas: FROM SCRIPT: How It Reads, THE SCENE: How It Looks, TO SCREEN: How It’s Improved (Or Not).

Jacob's Ladder (1990): The Ending

Being a director is tough.  Not only are directors responsible for every aspect of production from locations, to casting, to costumes, to camera placement, but from time to time they're also charged with translating the esoteric and metaphysical into a series of moving images that will be tangible and understandable to the movie-going audience.  In 1991, David Cronenberg directed Naked Lunch despite the claims that its source material was un-filmable and in 1998, Terry Gilliam took on the unenviable task of turning Hunter S. Thompson's ramblings into Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Though Bruce Joel Rubin wasn't adapting any source material, his screenplay for Jacob's Ladder certainly presented a challenge to director Adriane Lyne, who wasn't exactly expanding people's minds with his previous work (Fatal Attraction, Flashdance, etc.).  Rubin's screenplay was a pastiche of psychological, emotional, and spiritual influences ranging from dreams, to short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," to the Tibetan Book of the Dead.  With the wrong director holding such a dense script together, there is a danger that the film could become a directionless mess of contrasting ideas and tones.  Lyne, in my opinion, does a great job turning Jacob's Ladder into a subtle film about a man struggling with loss, his faith, and his sanity as he's haunted by visions of demons, his dead son and his murky time in Vietnam.  But the work of translating the text was only half the battle in making Jacob's Ladder so effective.  In order for it to be the film it turned out to be, Adriane Lyne cut quite a few scenes in the last third of the film that, if included, would've changed the entire tone of the film's ending and eliminated some of its openness to interpretation. SPOILER ALERT: This analysis will deal extensively with spoilers for Jacob's Ladder, specifically the film's ending. Do not read on if you don't want to know the end.…

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The Matrix (1999): Lobby Scene

In most scripts, one page is roughly equivalent to one minute of screen time.  The Lobby Scene from The Matrix (Scene #150) breaks this rule.  It is a single page, but it lasts a little over three minutes total on screen.  The Wachowski brothers left out significant detail to accomplish this.  Some screenwriters may hesitate to do such a thing, fearing that the picture they see in their mind’s eye will not fully translate to screen.  But filmmaking is a collaborative process.  A strong narrative will dictate the elements that need to arrive in sound and picture because they will ultimately resonate with the story.…

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Halloween (1978): Michael Myers Intro

No one ever really sets out to create an icon.  Be it a film's character, a camera movement, a specific score, or a line of dialogue, there is no formula for creating the everlasting.  Those who try to create the iconic, often fail and those who succeed, often didn't intend to.  Scorsese's long take in Goodfellas, Han Solo's "I know" from The Empire Strikes Back, and Indy's bringing a gun to a sword fight in Raiders of the Lost Ark were never planned; they were all improvisations, moments born out of their filmmakers' quick thinking brought on by creative or logistical restraints.  John Carpenter is another benefactor of such quick thinking.  The man most directly responsible for spawning the Halloween series is also by proxy the man most directly responsible for the creation of Michael Myers, who alongside Freddy Krueger and Leatherface is arguably the most iconic face in the horror genre.  Upon hearing the word "Halloween," devoted fans are more likely to think of Myers' expressionless, white mask than they are to conjure up images of ghosts, witches, or jack-o-lanterns.…

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Five Easy Pieces (1970): Bobby & Rayette

As a director, the most difficult conflict to convey in cinema is the one happening within.  Five Easy Pieces (1970) does an admirable job of comprehensively presenting a man, Bobby Dupea (Jack Nicholson), whose inner-state is completely at odds with his visible activity.  The script's primary technique is to surround the main character with significant women who, by the way they're treated and react, demonstrate Bobby's mettle.  This differs significantly from Bob Rafelson's finished film.  From the except below, we'll see that Rafelson chose to simplify the supporting characters and convey Bobby Dupea's nuance through sound design and camera techniques.  The scene encapsulates all that is wrong with Bobby and his tumultuous relationship with Rayette.  She is deeply committed to Bobby, but Bobby is emotionally abusive and distant, only allowing her to see parts of who he really is.…

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