Lately I have been fascinated with the art of writing screenplay and reading up everything that I could find on this subject.
In theory screenplay is easier to write than a book. It is about 100 pages and it has a lot of white space. One would think that how difficult it is going to be to write a good screenplay. This is exactly what I thought when I started writing the screenplay. Very soon I was shocked with a realization that writing screenplay is incredibly hard.
Consider the fact that a screenplay writer must express a wide swath of emotions and actions in a very limited number of pages. On top of that your screenplay does not sell if you do not have a lot of white space. A screenplay writer has to use simple words and everything has to be visual i.e. one cannot write what a character is thinking.
Let me give you an example:
This is from Basic Instinct, Michael Douglas is going to meet Sharon Stone for the first time in the movie.
Foggy. Cold. It is an expensive spit of land on the
ocean. Multi-million dollar "beach houses" with gardens
and swimming pools. There are two Ferraris in the
driveway — one black, one white.
They get out of the car in front of the house. They see a
woman in back of the house, sitting on a deck chair,
staring at the sea, a blanket around her.
As they get to her –
If you have seen the movie then you will see how the writer (Joe Eszterhas) has done a fabulous job of describing the house in one or two paragraph. The scene really comes alive in your memory as you read the above short description
Or how about this opening scene from “Bridges of Madison county”? We know exactly what is happening in Francesca’s married life.
FRANCESCA JOHNSON is sitting in the front seat of the pick-up truck. Her expression is distant. Her eyes are sad, as if
hiding a burden she can hardly bear. Her husband, RICHARD JOHNSON, is driving.
You feeling better Franny?
Yes. I'm fine. It's just this heat I think.
He nods, satisfied. He turns on the radio as the VOICE OF DINAH WASHINGTON sings a bluesy, haunting love song, "I'LL
CLOSE MY EYES."
"I'LL CLOSE MY EYES… TO EVERYONE
BUT YOU… AND WHEN I DO… I'LL SEE
YOU STANDING THERE…"
What station is this?
It's a Chicago station. I found it
the other day.
Kinda pretty. Is this uh… jazz
I don't know. Can we turn it off? I
have such a headache.
Richard shuts it off. Francesca turns her face away from him to look out at the vast expanse out of the countryside.
Notice that Francesca has found a station with a ‘different’ music but Richard is unaware of her discovery. He does not even know the genre. Fabulous job, you would agree.
Anyway this email is not about screenplay appreciation. J This is a book review.
Four Screenplays: Studies in the American Screenplay, basically walks us through four screenplays (a) Thelma and Louis (b) Terminator 2 (c) The silence of the lambs (d) Dances with wolves
This is a well-written book and useful not only for getting introduced to the art of writing screenplay (I am told that this is a beginners book) but to the art of appreciating a move as well. Syd takes us for a deep dive into these screenplays, explains the subtexts, why these movies work, what is the hook, what is the theme and so on.
I am really impressed with the amount of subtext even in Boom-Boom-I-Kill-You movie like Terminator.
I don’t think Syd Field (author of the book) has correctly got the underlying theme of “Dances with the Wolves”. I am going by his discussion, I have not read the book from which screenplay was adapted and I have not seen the movie. I suspect whether “Dances with Wolves” is about a person who was a misfit that longed to belong. Wanting to be a part of something is a very deep and powerful emotion, it is a very dark place and not many people will get it unless they have been there. It is also possible that this was the underlying theme of the book since Syd mentions that the book and the film diverge on certain aspects.
I am so intrigued that I have ordered a DVD. I am certainly looking forward to watching this movie.
Ever since I came to the United States, I have always been puzzled with a certain attitude in this country. Why do so many ordinary, god-fearing Republicans in this country oppose measures such as free healthcare for all? What do they mean when they say they are ‘against Obama as a matter principle’?
I have slowly started realizing that there are some fundamental issues that need to be solved before moderate Republicans will vote for President Obama and health care. (This is my second post on this subject; you can read the first post here.)
The violence by Anarchists in Seattle on 1st May is one such issue that drives ordinary people away from the movement. An example from the life of Mahatma Gandhi would make this point clear.
It was February, 1922 and the non-cooperation movement in India was in full swing under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji (as he is known affectionately in India) knew that the only way to get out from under British rule was to keep high moral ground, refuse to indulge in violence and refuse to cooperate with the British government. The movement was wildly successful and resulted in complete disruption of government services. British ‘raj’ was shaken to its core as its economy started deteriorating.
At the height of the struggle, something unfortunate happened. Police responded heavy-handedly to a protest and opened fire on unarmed people. This resulted in the death of three and several others were wounded. The mob that was non-violent up to that point became enraged and reacted by burning down a police station, killing all 23 police officers trapped inside.
How did Gandhiji react to the incidence of protests turning violent? He took an extraordinary step of recalling the movement. Imagine this! He recalled an extremely successful nationwide movement because of one violent incident in a small village.
Gandhiji was criticized by many. Almost all of his contemporaries was unhappy with this decision, though they went along with it because of their respect for Gandhiji. Even today, Gandhiji continues to be criticized for this decision.
Even I used to think that Gandhiji was at fault but lately I have realized that there is an important lesson here. One cannot let a movement run astray. It has to remain true to its original aims. No one should be allowed to hijack a movement and use it to serve a different agenda.
An important part of the non-cooperation movement was that it remained non-violent. Gandhiji knew that non-violence is the only way a protest movement can maintain its high moral ground. It is essentially the high moral ground that brought the British down to their knees. It was the principle of non-violence that encouraged ordinary Indians to join the movement.
This is exactly why I was sick to my stomach when I opened the paper on 2nd May and read the news about anarchists taking over the May Day protests in Seattle. Since the organizers knew that something like this could happen then they should have ensured that a few troublemakers would not be allowed to shatter the peaceful nature of the protests.
What do you think ordinary Republicans would think about the violence? Did it not provide fodder to Republican-mouthpiece media all over the country?
We must address these issues for “Obama 2012″ to be a reality.
Read the previous part at http://www.facebook.com/#!/note.php?note_id=10151272222855461
This article is sixth in a series of articles that attempt to figure out how British managed to maintain their hold over such a large country. I have somewhat strayed from the original subject and now we are looking at the roots of the ‘Aryan invasion’ theory.
(This would be my last article to prove that Aryan Invasion is a myth)
It might look odd that I picked up the topic of invention of zero to discuss Aryan invasion. However, if you keep your patience that invention of zero disproves Aryan invasion as well.
Coming back to subject of this post:
Quite a few people recently have been claiming that Vedic Hindu’s stole the ‘Zero’ from Mayans. The argument is, if anyone has to get the credit then it should be the Mayans who are the real inventors.
Let us examine this claim:
It is true that Mayans had a sign for ‘something’ that vaguely resembles zero. However, to claim that Hindu’s stole it from Mayans is rather a big leap of logic.
Here is a Mayan Numeric Chart. (http://www.mesoamericas.com/images/numerals.jpg)
Let us take two examples
(a) Number 1440 is represented in Mayan system as
The logic is: (4*360) + (0 *20) + (7*1)
(b) Number 2524 is represented in Mayan system as
The logic is: (7*360) + (0 *20) + (4*1)
This system suffered from the same problem that the Roman system had. How do you add two numbers together on paper? To continue our above example, the equation 2524 + 1440 would look like following in Mayan system.
Obviously, there is no way to add these two figures. Further, if you cannot add then advanced operations such as multiplications and divisions are out of question.
The question is then why did Mayans invented the symbol for zero?
For Mayans (and rest of the world) the only way one could calculate was using Abacus. The number system was just to record the results of Abacus. Adding two figures on paper was just impossible.
All this changed with the invention of zero by Vedic Hindus. Now you will see why Hindu zero is so drastically different from Mayan zero.
Hindus formed the rules for zero. Add/subtract zero to any figure and it remains the same. Multiply anything by zero and you get a zero. Divide anything by zero and you get infinity. They created a numeric system to the base 10 and suddenly it was very easy to write any conceivable number using the system. Though Mayan system was an improvement over Greek and Roman system, they still had to invent new signs for large numbers. Compare this with Hindu system where all you need to know were the symbols from 0-9
Once Hindus defined the rules, adding numbers all of a sudden became plain and simple as 2524 + 1440 = 3964.
Now the question is what is it that allowed Hindus to invent zero? The answer lies in Hindu philosophy.
(Please do read my article http://www.systomatics.info/?p=854 that discusses development of mathematics and priest class among other things)
At that point, of time, Vedic Hindu philosophy was the only philosophy that had the concept of void or zero. The concept of nothingness was completely foreign to rest of the world. This theory of ‘nothingness’ had been practiced by Hindus for a long time.
Copying a random reference from web here:
nasadiya sukta – Rig Veda 10:129
Then there was neither existence nor non-existence.
There was no space(air?) nor sky beyond.
What covered everything? Where? In whose protection?
Was there water, deep and bottomless?
There was neither death nor immortality then,
There was no sign of night or day.
That One breathed all by self without any outside support,
Other than that there was nothing else beyond.
As you can see from the above sukta, the Hindu’s were well acquainted with nothingness for a long time.
(I am not claiming that Vedic Hindu’s were extra brilliant, there is always an historical accident behind every achievement. The skeptical should read a book called ‘Outliers’)
Coming back to the main discussion:
Let us consider two proven facts:
(a) The concept of nothingness can be seen in the earliest Veda’s
(b) This concept was foreign to all other contemporary philosophies.
What does (a) and (b) tell us?
They tell us that these philosophies originated in isolation of each other.
This is why ‘Invention of Zero’ disproves the ‘Aryan Invasion’ theory.