The Silence of the Lambs is filled with compelling, tense scenes between Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling. In this video, we look at the anatomy of a scene. How each follows a three act structure, and plays a larger role in the narrative.
INT. PERLMAN STUDIO - PERLMAN VILLA - EVENING/NIGHT
Professor PERLMAN is sitting in his usual place, but his chair is turned out to face the garden. On his lap are proofs of his latest book. He is drinking. Three large citronella candles next to him keep the mosquitoes away.
ELIO comes into the room to say good night. His father puts away his manuscript with a toss and lights a cigarette – his last of the day - using one of the citronella candles.
So? Welcome home. Did Oliver enjoy the trip?
I think he did.
PERLMAN takes a drag from his cigarette, then pauses a moment before speaking.
You two had a nice friendship.
Another pause, and another drag on his cigarette.
You’re too smart not to know how rare, how special, what you two had was.
Oliver was Oliver.
“Parce-que c’etait lui, parce-que c’etait moi.”
(trying to avoid talking about Oliver with his father)
Oliver may be very intelligent –
(interrupting his son)
Intelligent? He was more than intelligent. What you two had had everything and nothing to do with intelligence. He was good, and you were both lucky to have found each other, because you too are good.
I think he was better than me.
I’m sure he’d say the same thing about you, which flatters the two of you.
In tapping his cigarette and leaning toward the ashtray, he reaches out and touches Elio’s hand. PERLMAN alters his tone of voice (his tone says: We don’t have to speak about it, but let’s not pretend we don’t know what I’m saying).
When you least expect it, Nature has cunning ways of finding our weakest spot. Just remember: I am here. Right now you may not want to feel anything. Perhaps you never wished to feel anything. And perhaps it’s not to me that you’ll want to speak about these things. But feel something you obviously did.
ELIO looks at his father, then drops his eyes to the floor.
Look - you had a beautiful friendship. Maybe more than a friendship. And I envy you. In my place, most parents would hope the whole thing goes away, to pray that their sons land on their feet. But
I am not such a parent. In your place, if there is pain, nurse it. And if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out. Don’t be brutal with it. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster, that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to make yourself feel nothing so as not to feel anything - what a waste!
ELIO is dumbstruck as he tries to take all this in.
Have I spoken out of turn?
ELIO shakes his head.
Then let me say one more thing. It will clear the air. I may have come close, but I never had what you two had. Something always held me back or stood in the way. How you live your life is your business. Remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. And before you know it, your heart is worn out, and, as for your body, there comes a point when no one looks at it, much less wants to come near it. Right now there’s sorrow. Pain. Don’t kill it and with it the joy you’ve felt.
PERLMAN takes a breath.
We may never speak about this again. But I hope you’ll never hold it against me that we did. I will have been a terrible father if, one day, you’d want to speak to me and felt that the door was shut, or not sufficiently open.
Does mother know?
I don’t think she does.
(but his voice means “Even if she did, I am sure her attitude would be no different than mine”)
Vesper walks up to Bond and seats herself across from him
Vesper: I'm the money.
Bond puts down his menu and regards her with an amused smile.
Bond: Every penny of it.
Vesper puts her business card on the table.
Vesper: The Treasury has agreed to stake you in the game.
Bond: ‘Vesper’? I do hope you gave your parents hell for that.
Vesper takes menu from porter.
Vesper:(to the porter) Thank you. (to Bond) Your boss must have some influence. I’ve never seen so go much go out the door so quickly.
Bond: Or so stylishly. May I ask where it is?
Vesper: Ten million was wired to your account in Montenegro, with a contingency for five million more, if I deem it a prudent investment. (as if curious) I suppose you’ve given some thought to the notion that if you lose, our government will have directly financed terrorism. (re:menu) What looks good?
Cut to exterior of train. Back to Vesper and Bond in dining car. Clear that they have just finished their meal. Bond fills Vesper's wine glass
Vesper: So you’re telling me it’s a matter of probability and odds; I was worried there was some chance involved.
Bond: Only if one assumes that the person with the best hand always wins.
Vesper: So that would be what you call ‘bluffing’?
Bond: You've heard the term. Then you may have also heard that in poker you don’t play your hand, you play the man across from you.
Vesper: And you’re good at reading people.
Bond: Which is why I’ve been able to detect an undercurrent of sarcasm in your voice.
Vesper: I am now assured our money is in good hands.
Bond: You don't think this is a very good plan, do you?
Vesper: So there is a plan? Excellent. Somehow I got the impression we were risking ten million dollars and hundreds of people’s lives on a game of luck. What else can you surmise?
Bond: About you, Miss Lynd?… Well your beauty is a problem. You worry that you won’t be taken seriously…
Vesper: Which one can say of any attractive woman with half a brain.
Bond: True, but this one overcompensates by wearing slightly masculine clothing and being more aggressive than her female colleagues, which gives her a somewhat prickly demeanor and, ironically enough, makes her less likely to be accepted and promoted by her male superiors, who mistake her insecurities for arrogance. Now I would normally have gone with only child, but by the way you ignored the quip about your name and your parents I would have to go with orphan?
Vesper: All right… by the cut of your suit you went to Oxford or wherever and actually think human beings dress like that. But you wear it with such disdain, my guess is you didn’t come from money and your school friends never let you forget it, which means you were at that school by the grace of someone else’s charity, hence the chip on your shoulder. And since your first thought about me ran to orphan, that's what I’d say you are. (sees a slight reaction) Oh, you are. I like this poker thing. And it makes sense since MI6 looks for maladjusted young men who’d give little thought to sacrificing others in others to protect queen and country. You know... former SAS types with easy smiles and expensive watches. Rolex?
Vesper: Beautiful. Now having just met you I wouldn’t go as far as calling you a cold hearted bastard.
Bond: Of course not.
Vesper: But it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine that you think of women as disposable pleasures rather than meaningful pursuits, so as charming as you are, Mr. Bond, I will be keeping my eye on our government’s money and off your perfectly formed arse.
Bond: You noticed.
Vesper: Even accountants have imaginations. How was your lamb?
ARTHUR EDENS (V.O.) ...Michael. Dear, Michael. Nurse Michael. Dr. Clayton. Secret Hero. Keeper of the Hidden Sins. Of course it’s you. Who else could they send? Who else could be trusted? Smoke on the horizon -- hole in the bucket -- voices crying from Milwaukee to Manhattan, “Where’s our hero?” “Where’s our Cleanser Of The Hidden Sins?” And here you are, sleeves rolled up, lips sealed -- broom -- dustbin -- bankroll at the ready! Fifties, is it still fifties? When you came to Boston, you remember? God, you must’ve had a thousand of them! The cash -- the smile -- the quiet word in the corner -- of course it’s you, Michael, who else could it ever be? But Michael, please, before you sweep, please just hear me out -- just try -- because it’s not like Boston -- it’s not an episode -- relapse -- fuck up -- I’m begging you, Michael, make believe it’s not just madness, because it’s not just madness --
INT. LAW FIRM OFFICE/DUPLICATION CENTER -- NIGHT A XEROX MACHINE -- cranking out high-speed copies -- ten pages a second flashing before our eyes -- all information a blur except for the letterhead which is constant:
KENNER, BACH & LEDEEN LLP ATTORNEYS AT LAW
ARTHUR EDENS (V.O.) -- I mean, yes -- okay, yes -- elements of madness -- the speed of madness -- yes, the occasional, euphoric, pseudohallucinatory moments that, yes -- fine -- agreed -- distracting -- nostalgic -- all of that --
A HUGE EMPTY OFFICE BULLPEN. CUBICLES AND WORKSTATIONS.
ARTHUR EDENS (V.O.) -- but that’s just the package -- the plate -- think of it as a tax -- The Mania Tax -- The Insanity Tax -- or like advertising on TV -- it’s the freight -- the weight -- it’s the price of the show --
A LONG, DARK CORRIDOR. A CLEANING CREW IN THE DISTANCE.
ARTHUR EDENS (V.O.) -- just please, just hear me out, Michael, because I swear to you, this is so much, so very much more, than the ravings of some hypo-maniacal, bipolar attorney --
DOCUMENT AREA. ODD THIS LATE. THREE ASSOCIATES STACKING PAPERWORK ONTO A TROLLEY --
ARTHUR EDENS (V.O.) -- Two weeks ago I came out of the building -- I’m running across Sixth Avenue -- there’s a car waiting -- I have exactly thirty-eight minutes to get to Laguardia,and I’m dictating -- there’s this frantic associate running to keep up --
A SENIOR PARTNER’S OFFICE. A SECURITY GUARD SNEAKING A SMOKE IN THE DARK BY AN OPEN WINDOW.
ARTHUR EDENS (V.O.) -- we’re in the middle of the street -- the light changes -- the traffic -- unleashed -- it’s coming -- serious traffic -- but there I am -- I’m
babbling -- my mouth -- I can’t stop -- some ridiculous, involuntary part of my brain just keeps going -- I’m standing there dictating this trade secret, Motion to Suppress...
AN OFFICE PHONE. TWELVE LINES BLINKING IN THE DARK.
ARTHUR EDENS (V.O.) ...and there, Michael, in the middle of Sixth Avenue -- as I stood there jabbering -- and this poor young woman is screaming -- traffic speeding toward us -- I looked at my hands and my suit -- my briefcase -- and it came to me -- came over me -- through me -- the overwhelming sensation -- the feeling -- the fact -- that I was covered with some sort of film -- an oil -- an ooze -- my hair -- my face -- like a glaze -- a coating -- and at first I thought, “My God, I know what this is, this is some sort of amniotic, embryonic fluid - - I’m drenched in afterbirth -- I’ve breached the chrysalis -- I’ve been reborn.” --
ASSOCIATE #1 WHEELING THAT DOCUMENT TROLLEY PAST AN EMPTY BACK OFFICE KITCHEN.
ARTHUR EDENS (V.O.) -- but the traffic -- this stampede -- cars -- trucks -- the horns -- the screaming associate -- I’m thinking, “No -- reset -- this cannot be rebirth. If anything, this must some giddy illusion of renewal that happens in the final instant before death.” --
A MAINTENANCE WORKER VACUUMING A LARGE RECEPTION STAIRCASE.
ARTHUR EDENS (V.O.) -- and then -- in the fraction of a moment it took for that idea to form -- I realized all of that was wrong, because I looked back at the building and had the most stunning moment of clarity...
THE WORD PROCESSING DEPARTMENT. TWENTY PEOPLE -- ACTORS, DANCERS, ARTISTS, INSOMNIACS -- THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT HAMMERING OUT OVERNIGHT LEGAL PAPERWORK.
ARTHUR EDENS (V.O.) ...I realized, Michael, at that moment, that I had emerged -- as I have done nearly every day for the past twentyeight years of my life -- not through doors of Kenner, Bach & Ledeen --
RECEPTION LOBBY. ASSOCIATE #1 WHEELING THE TROLLEY OFF THE ELEVATOR.
ARTHUR EDENS (V.O.) -- not through the portals of our huge and powerful law firm, but rather from the asshole of an organism whose sole function is to excrete the poison -- the ammo -- the defoliant -- necessary for even larger and more dangerous organisms to destroy the miracle of humanity --
ANOTHER EMPTY HALLWAY. A BANQUET TABLE LITTERED WITH THE PICKED-OVER REMNANTS OF AN ALL-NIGHT CATERED FEED.
ARTHUR EDENS (V.O.) -- and that I have been coated with this patina of shit for the better part of my life and that the stink and stain might in all likelihood take the rest of my days to undo --
AND NOW -- WIDER TO FIND -- ASSOCIATE #1 WHEELING THE TROLLEY TOWARD BIG DOORS AT THE END OF THE HALL --
ARTHUR EDEN’S (V.O.) -- and do you know what I did next? I took a deep, cleansing breath. I set that notion aside. I tabled it. I said to myself, “As clear as this may be -- as potent as this may feel -- as true a thing as I believe I have witnessed here -- I must wait. It must stand the test of time.”
AN ATTORNEY HUDDLED OVER HIS MOBILE PHONE, SEEING THE KID COMING, HELPING HIM BY OPENING THE DOORS, as --
ARTHUR EDENS (V.O.) And, Michael, the time is now.
Interessa-me particularmente a escrita, no que ao cinema diz respeito, por todos os motivos e mais algum.
Dos nomeados para o Oscar de melhor argumento, suscita-me sinceras dúvidas o Wall-E. Sim, o filme é bom, mas a originalidade é quase toda visual e não me parece que seja da escrita que vem o valor da experiência envolvente que proporciona.
O contrário vale a pena dizer de "In Bruges" (na imagem) que, de um quase nada de história, desenha pela palavra um filme no "shithole" que é Bruges, quase uma jóia, com alguns dos melhores diálogos que passaram recentemente por uma sala de cinema. Os actores servem perfeitamente este brilhantismo e se houvesse um Oscar só para o diálogo, este estava garantido.
O "Slumdog Millionaire" é, por outro lado, um primor de construção, fazendo pleno uso do tempo e do espaço da Índia, do micro ao macrocosmos, com um aproveitamento inteligente de todos os mecanismos de envolvimento do espectador à sua disposição. É como se tudo na vida fosse, de facto, um concurso.
Já "O Curioso Caso de Benjamin Button" assume um tom narrativo que, se dispensarmos a originalidade da premissa do conto de F. Scott Fitzgerald, não é particularmente arrojado ou inovador. Está certamente mais bem servido de actores, de realização, de direcção de arte, do que de um argumento que seja particularmente penetrante.
Quanto ao "Milk" e ao "Frozen River", espero ter tempo este fim de semana para os ver e logo opino. Os outros a seu tempo.