Elvi and I took in “Flags of Our Fathers” last night for $2 apiece at Dollar Cinema at Decarie Square (or whatever it’s called this year).
As the credits rolled, a fireman came in and asked us to evacuate. There was a fire in the mall, but it wasn’t serious. Once out of the room and into the lobby, we could hear the fire alarm and smell the smoke. I think the fire was already out. There were firemen and water near Ellie and Ernie, but nobody seemed too concerned or active.
We wondered if the fire department waited for the movie to end before evacuating us.
I enjoyed the film, once I stopped playing the Spot the “Band of Brothers”/”Saving Private Ryan” Actor Game (Barry Pepper, the guy who played Buck Compton).
What excited me was the film’s structure. What a fantastic, chaotic mess: multiple VO narrators and numerous stories interweaving to build a coherent whole.
Story 1) The attack, battle, climb up the mountain, and subsequent capture of most of the island.
Story 2) The war bond drive and the lives of Doc, Ira, and Rene after the war. Some might quibble, but I think this is a single coherent timeline.
Story 3) Doc’s collapse and death.
Story 4) Doc’s son interviews his father’s fellow soldiers.
Did I miss any?
On the scene level, it was a tangled mess, and inexperienced eyes might not have approved of the thing on paper.
Thematically, the screenplay came together, solid in structure. What a masterful accomplishment, to see past the narrow lens of scenes and sequences to the larger whole.
My first draft of “101” used similar format, of multiple timelines. Some people suggested I give that up, and my aborted second draft did. But now I wonder. Maybe I have to boost the emotion of the frame story rather than cut it outright. Food for thought.
There’s no question I’m a better screenwriter now than I was when I started “101”. I still want to get better before I hack at that again.
William Broyles Jr., with Paul Haggis a screenwriter of “Flags of our Fathers”, specializes in war movies. Like me, he attended Rice. Maybe I’ll hit him up for a read one day.
To Mystery Man, blogger and analyst extraordinaire, for becoming TriggerStreet’s reviewer of the month.