(The notes from this class also apply to the screenplay analysis homework for the “Erin Brockovich” script.)
Logline – (HW Question #1) — Noemi reviewed examples of good loglines from last week’s homework assignment.
- Integrates plot and theme
- Reflects the plot and goal, which is more specific than a general theme
- Gives the idea of the plot, what the main character wants and what’s at stake
- Gives a sense of who the protagonist and antagonist are
- If the logline is not clear, it will be difficult to have clarity in the script
Read more about loglines in “Anatomy of a Logline” and the logline information in the textbook.
Main Characters (HW Question #2) — The class discussed what makes a character a main character. In “The Graduate,” Elaine is not a complex character but is the object of the protagonist’s desire; so, in that sense, she is a main character. Plot-wise, she functions as a main character.
What does each character want to accomplish — their objective?
- Need to to create drama.
- A very general objective is “to find a direction in life”
- “Have an affair with Mrs. Robinson” is more specific — it can be shown and can truly create drama!
- “Marry Elaine” becomes Benjamin’s objective later in the film.
- It’s okay to explain that a main character does not appear to have an objective, as in the case of Elaine, but be sure to back up your conclusion.
What are each character’s obstacles?
- Show actual obstacles
- Not Ideas
- For Mrs. Robinson, her daughter, Elaine, is an obstacle
What’s at stake?
- For Benjamin — not getting Elaine, his freedom (threatened by Mr. Robinson with charges of rape)
- For Mrs. Robinson — her marriage is at stake as is her reputation
Protagonist — (HW Question #3) — a concise description is good.
Character Arc — (Question #4)
- Who is the main character is in the beginning?
- Who they are in the end?
Catalyst – In The Graduate” it was when Mrs. Robinson propositioned Benjamin.
Big Event — was when Benjamin made the phone call to arrange for the first sexual tryst
Crisis — (HW Question #5) — the “all is lost” moment
- Important to get an idea of the shape of the drama to see where the crisis is
- May choose from several candidates for the crisis but back it up — explain why you think it is the crisis
- Crisis should not happen too early in the story
End of Act I
- Also called “Crossing the threshold”
- Many filmmakers use mirrors and/or reflections to show when a character is crossing into a new world
Given Circumstances — (HW Question #6) — Information about:
- the characters,
- the setting,
- the time period,
- the situations and
- the relationships established in the script.
- (“Open” means not specified in the script — back up why you think that something is open to interpretation.)
Rules of the Universe — (HW Question #7)
- Are they established?
- What are they? In “The Graduate,” one rule of the universe is that it is not okay for a married woman and a young graduate to have an affair.
Tone — (HW Question #8)
- For example, is it okay to laugh? Show how the tone is established.
- How quickly is the tone established?
Spine — (HW Question #9)
- the “super objective”
- what the character wants for the entire story
- expressed with action verbs (to find one’s authentic self, to win his/her love, etc.)
- the driving force that pervades every element of the story
- the spine/super objective is supported by all characters
- The spine is like an umbrella, with each rib of the umbrella representing a character that helps hold up the spine — the whole umbrella.
- There may not be one correct answer regarding what the character wants for the entire story — the spine.
Metaphor / Image — (HW Question #10) – no one correct answer — just back up what you claim
- In “The Graduate,” a mataphor could be the fish in the fish tank — they could represent the characters’s situation of being trapped by convention.
- Also, Benjamin’s time floating in the pool shows actual drifting.
- The car is used as a motif — shows Benjamin moving forward
- Elaine was conceived in a car
- Benjamin yells at young folks (who had loud music coming from their car) to quiet down
Screenplay’s Message — (HW Question #11)
- What the script is telling the audience
- In “The Graduate,” the message seems to be “You can get out of your circumstances if you want.”