40 Days of Screenplays

For those of you with a screenwriting bent… I’ve just stumbled on something fantastic: “40 DAYS OF SCREENPLAYS“, on Scott Myers’ site “Go Into the Story.” Boy, I could get into THIS!

The idea: read and analyze one screenplay a day for 40 Days. I joined the group already in progress on Day 8 (yesterday: “Dead Poet’s Society”) and just posted a comment on Day 9 (“The Matrix.”)

Oh, and they offer links to pdfs of the screenplays themselves, so it’s a snap to download ’em and delve into ’em.

I don’t know which screenplays are yet to come (that’s part of the fun) – but already they’ve covered “Thelma and Louise”, “Die Hard”, “Shawshank Redemption”… uh… “Some Like it Hot”. And a few others I’ll have to catch up on after the 40 days are over.

My comment on “The Matrix” follows. I hope some of you may join me in reading/commenting on the blog. Really, it’s a terrific screenwriting education right over your magic internet thingie.

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Ed’s Comment on “The Matrix” screenplay – 1999 by Larry and Andy Wachowski

The Matrix? Wow. That’s how it’s done, son.

Tell you the truth, I didn’t love the movie when I saw it. I remember being confused – and I think I was probably distracted, too, by the whiz-bang special effects, by the violence (and by Keanu’s odd affect).

But reading the screenplay? It gave me a whole new appreciation for the form in general, and for “The Matrix” in particular. It’s actually crystalline in its clarity and elegant in shape. And also: smart. Soooo smart.

A thought occurred to me, too: it’s really “Alice in Wonderland,” isn’t it? (I’m sure I’m not the first person to light on that.) First the white rabbit reference – and then the main character being obliged to navigate an alternate/sideways reality – and in the end, having to assert his own primacy to survive. I think of Alice’s “You’re all a pack of cards” and the accompanying Tenniel illustration of the playing cards washing over little Alice in a wave… just as the bullets fly at Neo, yet because of his decision to BE Neo bullets have even less power over him than cardstock on Alice.

Also: expert use of iconic characters… the unlikely hero, the woman without whom the hero could not survive, the mentor, the oracle (literally), the betrayer, the all-powerful baddie(s) – but while I was reading I was never aware of their classical ancestry, but only their individual humanity. How ‘stock’ those characters could have seemed, in lesser hands!

In the end, I found it a surprisingly human movie – in love with the carbon-based life forms who fight against the machines and their Matrix. Missed that entirely the first time around, since it’s told with such slick machine-generated wizardry.

Altogether, it’s a beautifully done screenplay. Makes me want to see the movie again (and makes me want to delve into the sequels.) Glad to have had the opportunity to read it with you.

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