Scripts and their Interpretations Part 2

For the second part of this task, I have looked at several other examples of scripted introductions and how they introduce a film's storyline, setting, genre, period of time and any important characters. For my final project, I have decided to create a psychological drama. I chose this sub-genre because the basis of the film's action is stripped down to dialogue and powerful character interaction. As this sub-genre often uses voice-overs or narration during the introductions, I have decided to look at the script for the following films:
1. Milk (2008, written by Dustin Lance Blank and stars Sean Penn as the title character)
2. The Godfather (1972, written by Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola and stars Marlon Brando as Don Corleone and Salvatore Corsitto as Bonasera)
3. Raging Bull (1980, written by Paul Schrader & Mardik Martin and stars Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta)
1. How did each script introduce the narrative (storyline), setting, time period, the characters and the genre?
In the script for Milk, the first shot is of Sean Penn in his kitchen, recording his will on 'a circa 1970s tape recorder'. The description of this particular prop includes the decade of which that tape recorder would be released. This shows the audience that the film is based during the 1970s. This is also a form of continuity because the exact year of the film's introduction is mentioned in the caption for the first shot (Int. Harvey's Kitchen...1978).
Harvey Milk is introduced by Penn himself when he says, 'This is Harvey Milk speaking on Friday November 18th'. This tells the audience that Sean Penn's character must be the main character of this story. In the next caption, the setting of where Milk is recording his will is in 'a cluttered San Fransisco apartment'. This detail introduces the film's main location to the audience and makes us assume that Milk is either talking in a San Fransisco accent or in a general American accent. The script suggests to us that this is the location where the majority of the film is set because a person would want to record their will within the warmth and comfort of their own home.
The caption for the fourth shot states that Milk is 'making a campaign speech to a crowd of stone faced union boys'. The fact that he is delivering a campaign speech rather than any other normal monologue suggests to the audience that this film has a political theme because Milk is a politician or an activist.
Milk's final line in this section of the script is an enigma code because it gives the audience a vague insight of his life and it is the vagueness of his final line that makes us wonder why he would call the opposition party 'insecure, terrified, afraid or very disturbed themselves'. We wonder why he would want to use sharp, bitter words. It is this question that introduces us to a part of the film's narrative.
The subtitle for the first shot says, 'Int Day. Don's Office (Summer 1945)'. This subtitle introduces the year and time period to the audience. In the caption for the first shot, it says how the title credit's typography should be represented: 'simple words in white lettering'. The colour white can be quite plain (even bland) but stands out amongst the chosen 'black background'. The typography's formality suggests to the audience that this film must be very dramatic, hinting to us the film's genre.
During the title sequence, the script cues a non-diegetic cry where someone says, 'I believe in America!'. This cry introduces the film's country to the audience. In this same caption, we are introduced to the character, Amerigo Bonasera, who is described as being 'on the verge of emotion'. The audience wonders why he is feeling so emotional. This question signifies that this character direction is an enigma code.
Bonasera then begins to explain why he is on the edge. He goes on to say that his daughter 'found a boy friend, not an Italian'. This introduces an element of the narrative to the audience. It suggests that there must be some kind of conflict between the Italians and another body of society. His speech finishes with him saying, 'Then I said to my wife, for Justice, we must go to The Godfather'. This quote intrigues us because it makes us wonder why the godfather is capitalised. It is also an introduction to the character, Don Vito Corleone (whom fans of the original adaptation will know), is addressed in that way because he is the leader and the wise character.
At the start of the introduction, the title sequence's caption says that the credits are 'intercut with close-ups of a fighter's body'. This caption's description suggests to the audience that this film has a recurring sport's theme throughout. The subtitle for the next cut mentions the film introduction's time period when it says the first cut is set in the 'Barbizon Plaza Theatre - Dressing Room - Night (1964)'. The mention of the exact year tells the audience that the introduction is set during the 1960s.
The caption for the first cut introduces the character, Jake LaMotta, to the audience. Although 'overweight and out of shape', it is clear that his character still has some life in him left when it goes on to say, 'the balls of his feet still pop up and down like they were on canvas and his tiny fists still jerk forward with short bursts of light'. This suggests to the audience that he is still determined to succeed. It also introduces to us an element of the film's narrative: it could be that LaMotta's career as a boxer had to abruptly end at a time when he was not ready to retire.
2. How did each script engage you?
Whilst The Godfather's script engages me with its formality and its very emotional monologue, Milk's and Raging Bull's script engaged me with elements of humour. Milk's script also engages me because of his final enigmatic quote in that section of the script when he says, 'I fully realize that a person who stands for what I stand for - an activist, a gay activist - becomes the target or potential target for a person who is insecure, terrified, afraid or very disturbed themselves...'. This line not only describes himself and why he stands out in society but he also describes normal people as the enemy. His description of the enemy engages me because it makes me wonder why he is open to calling the opposition such bitter names when his sole aim was to recruit people.  
The Godfather's script engages me because the shots are laid out in chronological order. This helps me to understand the introduction more and it allows me to pick out the key information from the script. Raging Bull's script engages me because I am able to get a clear representation of the lead character's present life and past life and how he is still caught up with living in the past.
3. What does each of the scripts have in common?
All of the scripts have a monologue to some extent during the introduction. All of the scripts indirectly introduce the film's setting whether this is in a stage direction or if it is said. For example: Milk's script introduces the setting in a stage direction of how the room in which Milk is sat in should look.  
4. How are each of the scripts different?
Whilst Milk's script and Raging Bull's script cross-cuts from the past to the present day, The Godfather's script remains in one time period and links fluently and chronologically into the next section of the script. The tone of The Godfather's script is also quite negative in order to prevent any humour whereas elements of humour are in Raging Bull and Milk in order to engage the audience from the start. The title credit does not appear at the introduction of Milk's script whereas it does for The Godfather and Raging Bull.

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