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By Ally Sinyard · May 5, 2019
Writing a gambling-themed movie script requires a great deal of finesse. There are many things to consider, but choosing the right characters is critical. The life goals, failed dreams, great expectations, passions, and driving forces are crucial for determining a character's actions. What pushes them behind the roulette or poker table? What are they trying to escape? Who are they trying to save or help?
Bingo is a form of gambling on its own. However, it is not nearly as complex or exciting as a Texas Hold'em game with high stakes on the table. Still, bingo is interesting enough to capture the interest of a variety of movie scriptwriters. Many of them have chosen to give the game an important role in their creations.
Just like with any other gambling movie scripts, you should have a Regular Joe at the centre. He or she will be busy gradually explaining and revealing new things about themself. These revelations will further help the writer create precious life lessons. Plus, to be successful, a bingo-themed script should also abound in catchy conflicts. Whether it is an interior battle that the main character needs to face with their own demons or a conflict with other characters, bingo-themed movies need it.
Let's have a look at two of the highest praised bingo-related movies and see what we can learn from them as scriptwriters.
If you love Quentin Tarantino's brilliant scripts just as much as the next writer, you probably know “Inglourious Basterds” by heart. The utterly mesmerizing, audacious and incredibly bold war-themed movie can still trigger a series of controversies even today. Twelve years after its release in 2009, Tarantino's genius still manages to annoy, scare, surprise, and stay relevant. Inglorious Basterds was Tarantino's sixth movie. It is considered one of its greatest masterpieces of all time. The movie convinced “film critic Roger Ebert to call Tarantino a script writer of "quixotic delights”.
The basterds (intentional spelling used by Tarantino) are a savage group of fighters ready to teach us the “what if” side of history. The group is dropped straight behind the infamous Nazi lines in 1944. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) is the leader of “The Basterds”. There is another group Tarantino used to beautifully split the action in two: Shosanna Dreyfus' group. Shoshana is a cinema owner of Jewish descent whose entire family was brutally murdered by a ruthless SS officer called Hans Landa (played by Christoph Waltz). Both groups directly interact with Landa
How exactly is the game of bingo portrayed in the movie? While you won't be seeing any actual bingo games played by either of the characters, you will hear Colonel Hans Landa constantly shout “That’s a Bingo!”. He will do it every time he has a chance, while the action will keep unfolding into a much more desirable ending to World War II. Tarantino decided to use this bingo catchphrase to express Landa's passion for his beliefs. The line was so powerful that it turned into one of the most popular movie catchphrase used by movie geeks even today.
The movie carries viewers on an emotional roller-coaster through the eyes and senses of Sonny. He is an African-American who has recently moved to a northern city in the US. Here, he starts feeling trapped and not welcome. He uses his Bingo passion to try to win the big prize and help out his family during the Depression-era. The game of bingo is used to express his desperation to provide for his loved ones. King of the Bingo Game is more of a tearjerker than a light-hearted comedy that would normally center around such a fun game.
Ralph Ellison is the genius scriptwriter behind the movie. He manages to portray the full-blown consciousness crisis of an unemployed Sonny who goes to the movies to lose himself in a land of fantasies for a short while. At the same time, he hopes to win just enough bingo games to afford to cover the doctor bills for his sick wife's treatment.
There are many interesting scenes during the movie. One of them is when Sonny is filled with nostalgia as he walks along a railway trestle. He remembers the time when, as a young boy in the South, he managed to reach the concrete just in time for the train not to loom down on him. Soon after, his reverie changes into a nightmare. He sees the train leaving the tracks, following him down the street. He hears people laughing while he is running away, frightened. The nightmare is turned into a prophecy later on in the movie. Sonny goes off the tracks while violating the rules of the game and playing more than just one bingo card.
His psychotic break, delusions, and higher truths are revealed further. He manages to achieve bingo and eventually steps into the limelight, in front of the crowd. As he stands there, he feels blinded and under the spell of a mysterious, yet familiar source of power. Prior to pushing the Wheel's button in an attempt to win the big jackpot, he feels torn. He feels he is about the determine the fate of the entire human race. He then feels that he might just be repaid for all the suffering he has experienced.
While pushing the button, he is unable to step away from the spinning wheel. He feels so absorbed by its power and its rotation that he wants to whirl, lose himself and let it all be. Sonny thinks that by keeping his finger pressed against the button, he can somehow control his own destiny. He realizes that keeping control over the button is suddenly much more important than winning the actual prize.
Finally, if you are looking for a good source of inspiration for a bingo-themed script, add these movies to your watch list. Their scripts have captured many other incredibly interesting struggles of the human psyche and consciousness through the simple game. They could help you find your inner voice and start working on your own killer script.