Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Coriolanus : The Shooting Script

So they asked me, "Would you like a copy of the shooting script for Ralph Fiennes and John Logan's movie Coriolanus?"

"Sure," I said. I don't know what a shooting script is.

It might be Mexico City. Or Chechnya. Or El Salvador. Or Detroit. Or Baghdad. Or London.

This Rome is a modern place. It is our world right now: immediately recognizable to us. Elements of classical and brave public monuments are lost in a sea of brazen advertising billboards, neon shopping plazas and drab super-highways. Splendor and squalor sit side-by-side.

It is a volatile, dangerous world.

William Shakespeare's Rome.

...but I love it.

What a fascinating way to split the difference between reading the original Shakespeare, and seeing a movie.  Read a shortened version of the text while, as above, somebody paints you an at times spectacularly vivid picture of how they'd like you to imagine it happening.

Even better, the script comes with notes from both screenwriter Logan and director Fiennes.  Why a voiceover for Volumnia in a certain scene?  How will the first encounter between Coriolanus and Aufidius go down?  What image should we open on, and why?  It is better than the movie in this way, it's like jumping right to the DVD release with director's commentary track.  

There are, of course, places where the written word just won't do.  You can write Coriolanus' "You common cry of curs!" line in all capital letters and underline it all you want, but all the reader takes away is "Ok, he's mad."  How mad and how he shows it is up to the actor/director. That's why you need to see the play

The book is short, just over 100 pages.  That immediately reminded me of an old Simpsons episode where Homer met Ron Howard and tried to pitch him a screen play.  "The typical movie script is 120 pages," Howard tells him, "This one is only 17 and several of them are just drawings of a time machine."  In this format and at that length, I read this in about 3 sittings. Crash course in Coriolanus!

This is a bloody interpretation of a bloody play, there's no doubt about that. My wife and kids won't be seeing this one with me, which means I'm not sure if I'll get to see it even if it does come to my area. Should I get to see it, however, I know that I'm going to get that much more out of it having had this script to read first.  I'd love to read more of these.

UPDATED I certainly rushed this one out, didn't I!  Two important details missed.  "They" in this case is (are?) the good folks at Harper Collins / Newmarket Press.  When the offer came up I actually asked whether this publishing of scripts as mass-market books was a new publishing trend and I was told that this is basically what Newmarket's been doing for 20 odd years.  I guess not! :)

Second and perhaps most importantly is the fact that this book is currently available on pre-order from Amazon, as well as on the publisher's website!  It dawned on me after I wrote this post that it sounds like I got some sort of secret behind-the-scenes hookup.  You, too, can read the script.


Nick Miliokas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick Miliokas said...

Sorry, let me try that again.

Re: So they asked me, "Would you like a copy of the shooting script for Ralph Fiennes and John Logan's movie Coriolanus?"

Just curious, SG -- who are "they"?

CGriff said...

And where, pray tell, does one get to know a "they" ?

Duane Morin said...

UPDATED! I can't believe I rushed out the post without those important details. The book, which is available for pre-order from Amazon, is from Newmarket Press / Harper Collins. Thanks for pointing that out!

Nick Miliokas said...

FIENNES: John, may I see that shooting script again for a moment, please?

LOGAN: I don't have the shooting script, Ralph. I thought YOU had the shooting script.

FIENNES: No, I don't have the shooting script.

LOGAN: I wonder what happened to the shooting script?

Nick Miliokas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick Miliokas said...

MORIN: Guys! Guys! I don't know what a shooting script is!!

FIENNES: Uh-huh. Sure you don't. Did you hear that, John? Morin says he doesn't know what a shooting script is. Hah!!

LOGAN: Let it go, Ralph. The important thing is, we have the shooting script back again.

FIENNES: I suppose you're right, John. But, dammit, now that he's read the bloody shooting script, I doubt he'll even go to see the bloody film.