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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions (often with a humorous eye) about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question: 

It's Arnold again from last week.  Thanks for publishing my last question about "The Good Shepherd."  I really liked "Blood Diamond."  What did you think about the script?

Arnold Again


This week's answer: 

A "Single-faceted" Script

It's nice to "hear" from you again, Arnold, Again.  (Isn't it amazing that you would write again and your last name would be "Again"?  Unless your last name isn't "Again" and you're just fooling me.  Again.)

"Blood diamond" was quite a good script.  Not exceptional, but good.  Now some may disagree with me (and I like it when they do), but, even though the stakes were very high and there was heart-rendering moments when atrocities were committed against innocent people, if you look at the skeleton of the script, it wasn't all that original.  From the very beginning, the story's path was set and we knew where it was going.  The diamond smuggler was going to transcend his selfish ways and courageously sacrifice himself.  He would eventually be moved by the plight of the good-hearted abused native man who only wanted to be back with his wife and son.  And, of course, let's not leave out the humanitarian female reporter who would touch the heart of this hard-hearted smuggler, who had a difficult childhood.  Quel surprise!  (I throw in a French phrase from time to time just to look cultured and establish an air of sophistication and learnedness.)  And I really don't have to mention the evil and greedy colonel (?) -- well, I think he was wearing some kind of khaki uniform.  (I guess I just mentioned him.)  There's action galore; many, many bullets and explosions to stay clear of.  We're given many opportunities to care about the hardened but charming smuggler.  Do you notice any pattern here?  Or a lack of something that when it is in a script it can make a good one great?  I'll tell you what it is.

Complexity

There is no complexity in this screenplay.  When you look closely at "Blood Diamond," you see a adroitly fashioned melodrama.  The hero, heroine, and the villain are all clearly drawn, their destinies clearly marked.  How they get to their destinations is where the story excels, providing a host of challenges and conflicts, many moments of tension, surprise, shock, compassion, sympathy, etc., along with a few chuckles.  But notice how the word here is "few."  Few chuckles.  Very few.  Could it be that this story, notwithstanding its poignant and caring message about the carnage and cruelty that accompanies conflict diamonds, takes itself just a touch too seriously.  And, just like a diamond, could this story have had many more facets?

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