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Friday, April 20, 2007

A Fantastic Script

posted by on April 20 at 11:59 AM

Why I hate big-time screenwriters:

The Shawshank Redemption filmmaker Frank Darabont has hit out at movie mogul George Lucas for preventing Steven Spielberg from shooting his script for the upcoming Indiana Jones sequel, claiming his efforts were “a waste of a year.” Darabont wrote a screenplay for the highly-anticipated movie, which is still known by its working title of Indiana Jones 4, and insists director Spielberg was happy with it. However, producer Lucas didn’t think it was good enough. Darabont tells, “It showed me how badly things can go. I spent a year of very determined effort on something I was very excited about, working very closely with Steven Spielberg and coming up with a result that I and he felt was terrific. He wanted to direct it as his next movie, and then suddenly the whole thing goes down in flames because George Lucas doesn’t like the script. I told him (Lucas) he was crazy. I said, ‘You have a fantastic script. I think you’re insane, George.’ You can say things like that to George, and he doesn’t even blink. He’s one of the most stubborn men I know.” He adds, “I have no idea if there’s a shred of (my script) left. It was a tremendous disappointment and a waste of a year.” And Darabont has no plans to reveal what his Indiana Jones script contains: “At this point, I don’t give much of a damn what George thinks, but I wouldn’t want to harm my friendship with Steven.”

A wasted year? Primo, you’d think he’d written Ulysses or something. Secundo, he was certainly paid a mountain’s worth of money for that year of very hard and earnest work.

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Darabont is one of the better screenwriters and directors we have today. I mean, he doesn't make movies about horse-fucking, but he's still pretty good.

Posted by elswinger | April 20, 2007 12:18 PM

oh please Elsie, the Henry Cowell

let us read tomorrow your obituary from marraige-guano overdose. actually, maybe just zone-out dude on darabont's 'buried alive' from '90.

Posted by darling463 | April 20, 2007 12:35 PM

I met Frank Darabount in a screenwriting class when I lived in L.A. In the class we dissected The Shawshank Redemption. As it happened, I had been at a test screening for the original cut which was slightly longer.
A couple of things that struck me was that he was very thoughtful about his work which is why he turned down a lot of money from Rob Reiner to direct Shawshank in the first place.
He also was very upset that his first big screenplay Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was destroyed by Kenneth Branaugh. Which if anyone has seen the film can attest to. It's absolutely unwatchable. I doubt if Robert DeNiro can ever forgive Branaugh for humiliating him so. My personal opinion of that film is that Branaugh got so into the role of Frankenstein that he created this ridiculous piece full of self-adoration that itself became a "monster."
Anyway, I think Darabont is sincere. He's a successful writer. Why shouldn't he care about his work?
Screenplays for the most part live only if the film is produced. The studio owns the script. You can't just go off and make your own rival film. And you can't really publish it. At least seldom do. So, I'd be pretty pissed too!

Posted by D. | April 20, 2007 12:52 PM

Lucas certainly has demonstrated with his own recent work he knows nothing about writing a good screenplay.

Posted by Joe | April 20, 2007 12:55 PM

Dang it, Joe, you beat me to it.

But, yeah, Lucas doesn't know a good script from his ass.


One of the things I hated most about Branagh's Frankenstein was its complete lack of attention to the novel. Wasn't the point to make it more in line with the original story than Whale's version? Stupidity and madness.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 20, 2007 1:02 PM

My absolute, favorite comment on the role of the screenwriter came from an author, who's name I can't recall, who said that writing scripts was like being a plumber, once you've installed the toilet, you don't go back to see if someone's crapping on it.

Posted by E. Steven | April 20, 2007 1:25 PM

Ah, I just remembered the guy who made the Plumber analogy. Tony Gilroy!

Posted by E. Steven | April 20, 2007 1:38 PM

As a graphic designer in-house for a mid-sized corporation, I can completely sympathize with Darabount. I've spent months on work that I thought was absolutely spot-on for our demographic, only to have the stubborn and frankly clueless CEO scrap it in favor of something generic and ugly. It's truely heart-breaking to see so much work go down the drain.

Posted by Colin | April 20, 2007 3:37 PM

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