05 September 2010

20 Scripts in 30 Days Number 2: Bonnie & Clyde

An amazing read.

The script works along a series of contrasts. Scenes contrast with each other. Tender/violent; exhiliration/despair. The major characters all contrasts with each other as well: Bonnie and Clyde, the young, reckless and glamorous contrasted with Buck, Clyde's brother and his wife Blanche, the preacher's daughter. The tension between Bonnie and Blanche propel many of the scenes forward and show the inner stresses of the group. It's resolved, beautifully, when Bonnie takes care of Blanche after the penultimate shootout; she offers the shattered and wounded woman a pair of sunglasses -- which are both a mask and a form of protection. And when Clyde's sunglasses are half broken, we know he's going to be trouble.

Sunglasses are an important leit motif, along with other objects which are used skilfully to emphasize thematic points. They're everyday items, or tools essential to the character's lives. Apart from the scene above, they're deployed subtley.

Reading the script, as opposed to watching the movie, yields some angles I hadn't noticed when I've seen the movie. It's much more melancholy. They're actually failures as bank robbers; the one time they pull of a major hit, the bank's nearly empty of cash. The pair are more adolescent on the page, more like crazy, stupid teenagers. The charisma of the stars totally obliterates and subverts this. Plus, it reads well. I had a hard time putting it down. Each scene is economical; each carries a load, each sweeps the action along to it's inevitable, yet shocking, finale.

I plan on going back to this one and spending more time with it and the movie.

Bonnie & Clyde, written by David Newman & Robert Benton

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