Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Screenplay: The Da Vinci Code

Tuesday posts are for my "Take" on films I've viewed, and also for screenplays I've read.  Observing what works (and what doesn't) helps me hone my screenwriting skills.

Writing style was the first thing that jumped out at me as I began to read The Da Vinci Code (2006), screenplay by Akiva Goldsman.  I enjoy sentences that reveal heaps in few words, and envy those with the ability to paint pictures with vivid writing.  The first sentence in the screenplay reads: “An old STONE FARMHOUSE sits atop the crest of a grass-covered hill, lights in the windows, smoke a kite from the chimney.”  Whoa, vivid imagery! 

Hooked from the get-go, I continued to read with pen in hand, marking the sentences and phrases that tickled my mind’s eye, such as:  “The sleek jet skims over moonlit clouds.” And… “Both are winded, hands to knees as people pass.  Real life, moving by, giving them barely a second glance.”

I want to write scene descriptions as concise as he does, for example:  “A small room.  Stone floors.  Bed, Bible, hot plate.  Single window open to the autumn air.”  No excess wording there. I probably would have written, “The small room contains a bed against the wall, a nightstand with a Bible, and a hot plate nearby.”  Sheesh, I need to lose the verbiage! 

The succinct writing also moves the action at a rapid pace, adding to the tension that made the script a fast and enjoyable read.

Goldsman’s writing style sparks a desire to read more of his screenplays (A Beautiful Mind; I Am Legend; Cinderella Man; I, Robot).

What works: Vivid writing, concise descriptions, fast pace.

What doesn't work: I can't think of a thing!

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