Two pages

I spent Friday and the weekend on “72 Virgins”, including some rewriting. I thought it might be instructive to post the original and the first rewrite pass. I won’t tell you which is which, however. Which do you like better?

A moment ago, Bassil set off a bomb among these people in a market. Franco is a cop. Havah is a mother, Albert is a senior citizen, and Julia is in high school. That’s all the set-up you need.

  • INT. LIMBO ROOM - DAY
  • This room is painted a shade of gray exactly 50% black and 50% white. There’s one door, closed.
  • Bassil, Havah, Franco, Julia, and Albert mill around the room, stunned and confused.
  • Havah realizes she no longer holds children in her empty hands.
  • HAVAH
  • My children! Where are my children?
  • Havah breaks into hysterics.
  • In confusion, Bassil looks around.
  • BASSIL
  • (in Arabic)
  • Is this Paradise?
  • Albert cocks his head as if listening for something. He takes a step, slowly. He takes a second step, at normal speed. The mere action impresses him.
  • Franco gains his bearings, as do the others, save Havah. Julia consoles Havah, calms her enough to stop the hysterics.
  • Franco quickly surveys the room, pauses his gaze on Bassil.
  • FRANCO
  • Do I know you?
  • Bassil responds with a blank look. Franco shrugs it off, then goes to inspect the door.
  • Albert takes a third step, downright frisky. He smiles. He performs a brief dance step, then a deep knee bend.
  • Franco opens the door. It opens outward. Incredibly bright light floods into the room from whatever is on the other side.
  • Startled, Franco quickly slams the door shut.
  • FRANCO
  • Any theories on what just happened?
  • He gets nothing but blank stares. Bassil might look a little sheepish, perhaps even guilty. Albert glides around the room.
  • ALBERT
  • Don’t know what just happened, but I like it.

And the other version:

  • INT. LIMBO ROOM - DAY
  • An empty gray room that appears to be an exact 50% mix of black and white. A single door resides in the middle of one of the walls.
  • Bassil, Havah, Franco, Julia and Albert stand at the opposite end of the room from the door.
  • Confusion, Bassil looks around.
  • BASSIL
  • Is this heaven?
  • Julia looks about wildly.
  • Havah glances down to her empty hands. Panic strikes.
  • HAVAH
  • The children. They were just here a moment ago.
  • Albert smiles as he stretches.
  • ALBERT
  • Don’t know what just happened, but I like it.
  • Albert performs a deep knee bend.
  • ALBERT
  • I haven’t not felt my arthritis in years.
  • Franco surveys the room and pauses as his gaze falls upon Bassil. He tilts his head to the side as if trying to recall something.
  • FRANCO
  • Do I know you?
  • Bassil evades the question with a blank look. Franco shrugs it off as the door attracts his focus.
  • Albert moves toward the door. Franco, curious, follows. As the pair reach it, the door opens.
  • Bright light bathes the room from the other side.
  • Startled, Franco quickly slams it shut. He turns to the group.
  • FRANCO
  • Anyone have an idea as to what just happened?
  • Blank stares transform into looks of deep concentration.

There you go. Discuss.

4 thoughts on “Two pages

  1. I prefer the first one and also think that that’s the rewrite because it is more precise, to the point, and yet, has more color in it. You don’t need to know he has arthritis. It’s obvious by his smile as he stretches.

    I also love Havah’s emotional response, it makes it feel more real, more motherly.

    I love it.

    Can I be in one of your movies? 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.