Suspense in Terminator script

Suspense in Terminator



The story structure creates the backbone of the suspense in this film because the stakes are as high as possible. Not only are the protagonists unprepared and unbelieved, but they also have to kill an invincible killing machine. The Terminator is extremely well armed, inside and out, and the more damage he receives the more unstoppable he appears (p.54). This is a great man vs. machine film and the script emphasizes the animal nature of Reese. He is repeatedly described as feral and a lot of attention is paid to his instincts and quick reflexes (p.18). While Reese’s story gives us some hope, the existence of mankind is at stake and much of the suspense comes from this against-all-odds situation.

            The characters develop very slowly in the script and of course the Terminator does not experience any character growth. This creates suspense because until the very end of the film, Sarah is scared, confused, and weak.  Reese goes in the opposite direction, becoming more human in the end but then we question how that will affect his battle with the machine.

            The screen directions  written in the script are great and it is a shame the director did not get to use them all. The first directions that add to the suspense are the low angle dolly or handheld shots (starting p.5). This makes us feel small and scared particularly when cut with ECUs of the Terminator. Another shot that creates immediate suspense is the POV shot looking into the barrel of a gun.

            The suspense created by the production design comes mainly in the chase and fight sequences. One line sticks out in the chases because it seems all encompassing; “RELENTLESS FORWARD MOTION”. The audience is put right in the middle of everything with a lot of danger and confusion all around. We are in the normal world but the stakes are reiterated with the flash-forwards of the future. The images of a war torn future builds suspense around the Terminator because it shows what a terminator is made to do and what it could do in our normal world. The script also has the best apparent defeat ever as the smoking steel skeleton rises from the ashes.   


Indiana Jones 4 opening scene – as it should have been

              Indiana Jones IV



Int. desert cave—DAY


A figure resembling INDIANA JONES walks down a long hallway with two guides flanking him holding flashlights and looking nervous.  They have been walking for a while and the passage is becoming more dusty and full of cobwebs.


One of the guides ARI stops to take a rock out of his shoe.



Ouch! Why is this passage

so long? And why is it

getting colder?


The figure resembling Indiana stops and throws a level on the ground. He turns around to face the other two and is revealed to be JASON, a twenty-something kid with a cowboy pistol instead of a whip.


JASON (laughing)

We’re getting deeper guys,

so bundle up.



If you knew it was going to

be cold why didn’t we bring

torches instead of these things?



I’ll never understand this

obsession with torches people

have. You’re just like my dad,

living in the past.



Archaeologists are supposed

to live in the past. Where

is your father anyway? I would

feel much safer with him here.


Jason is indignant and turns away without responding.




INDIANA JONES is sitting in bed drinking coffee and reading the paper. He has a sprained ankle. SALLAH enters and pours himself some coffee.



So Indy, do you know where

your son is this morning?



Probably sleeping one off.



Well Indy, you can be happy

young Jason isn’t quite the

drunk you think although in

this case you may wish he was.


Indiana get up and starts getting dressed in a hurry.



Alright Sallah what did he

do now? He hasn’t been

gambling again, has he?



No, no nothing like that.

He has simply stolen three

of my best camels and two

of my worst guides.


Indiana looks alarmed and starts looking through his luggage.



He headed southwest

apparently into the desert

so I thought-


INDIANA (holding up an empty briefcase)

The ruins of Bedua.





INT. Desert cave—DAY


Jason and guides have come to a stone wall blocking the passage and are examining everything nearby with flashlights.



Maybe this is a sign.


JASON (irritated)

A sign of what exactly?



We shouldn’t be here.




You should be more concerned

with what we can do not what

you think we should.


The two guides look at each other uneasily.



EXT. Entrance to ruins of Bedua—DAY


Five Arab men with rifles sit on camels in front of the entrance.



Do you think they will figure

out how to open the chamber door?


Arab #2

Perhaps not but he is American,

no? He will blow the door up to

get what he wants.


Arab #3

Now what makes you think

Americans are so destructive?


The group starts laughing loudly at the joke.





Indiana and Sallah are riding through the desert.


INDIANA (curious)

Sallah how do you know where

we’re going?


SALLAH (coughs)

Well Indy I’ve been keeping

copies of your maps because

you do have a rather strong

tendency to get captured.


They suddenly hear the sound of laughter and pull the horses to a stop. They crawl up to the top of a sand dune and see the five Arabs.


EXT. Cave entrance–Continuous


The Arab men sit under some ruins next to the cave entrance. Some of them start loading and cleaning their rifles.




INT. Blocked passage—DAY


ARI (shining his flash light down a hole)

I think I see a lever down

there but we’re going to need

a long stick to reach it.


JASON (rolling eyes)

Oh yes there are plenty of

long sticks in the desert.


Jason thinks for a moment and takes his pistol out and shoots into the hole. The door starts to rise.


EXT. Cave Entrance—DAY



See what I told you!


EXT. Top of sand dune—Continuous


INDIANA (muttering)

Any excuse to use his gun.



You know Indy I think they

will be shot at when they

leave the cave.



Yeah I get that same feeling.


Indiana sees the camels Jason has brought and decides to create a diversion.


INT. Cavern—DAY


Jason and guides have entered a large elaborate cavern and they stand there speechless shining flashlights up and down the wall. After a few seconds the door behind them starts to close. They all run for the door and make it out just in time.


                        ARI (looking at the broken lever)

              Well this has been a productive



EXT. Cave Entrance—DAY


Jason’s group emerges into bright sunlight and chaos. Camels are running around wildly, with Arabs chasing them. Bullets are also flying from the few Arabs not chasing camels. Indiana and Sallah ride in and grab Jason and the guides and escape through the mazelike ruins.


INDIANA (yelling over the noise)

You’re a real pain in the

ass kiddo!



At least I haven’t been gambling!





“Dead Man” Review


Dead Man


I chose this film because I am a big fan of westerns and this is one of my favorites because it is a unique and compelling interpretation of the genre. This is to say that while the film has many of the elements of a classic western, I see it as an anti western because at this point industry has moved in and for all intensive purposes the west has been won. I think it effectively portrays the end of the frontier way of life. I also particularly like the style and acting throughout, particularly with respect to the portrayal of Native Americans.

 Dead Man is not a western in the traditional sense and many would no doubt argue that it should not be classified in the western genre.  There are elements in the plot and narrative that make this a western film, but the main characters are in most ways the opposite of the western hero or antihero.  One way to examine the heroes of the early western films and the antiheros of the later films is to look at this film which turns these traditional characters on their respective heads.  We can define and understand the classic western genre better by looking at a purposefully made reversal.  The point of view of Johnny Depp’s character William Blake is also a polar perspective from the traditional western.  The director tries to establish an anti- western set in a western setting.  This is confusing until we realize that the reversal is meant to show a hero who is simply not possessed of the same chivalric qualities of the classic western heroes.

The film is written and directed by Jim Jarmusch who is known for his experimental style. He describes this film as a “Psychedelic western” and the surreal quality of the film supports this description well.

There are several elements that make the film work stylistically, the most prominent being the soundtrack. The film is scored by Neil Young and consists of an electric guitar played throughout. The sound serves as transitions as well as emphasis at key points. The other element that enforces the overall surreal quality is the use of high contrast black and white film. The frame is often off balance and the shot composition seems cluttered yet fascinating at times. This provides us with a very compelling visual narrative.

The theme of the film is that Blake is killed near the beginning of the film and is being led into the afterlife. We see imagery of death throughout the film, particularly during Blake’s peyote vision quest where he embraces a dead fawn and paints his face with blood. The most disturbing image of this kind is of a marshal Blake kills and lying on the ground, resembles a Christian saint. The disturbing part comes when the bounty hunter Cole crushes the dead marshal’s skull like an orange. This adds shock and defines the sadistic nature of the pursuer.

            The film begins on a train going from east to west and each time Blake falls asleep the landscape changes and his neighbors evolve from well-dressed ladies and gentlemen to fur clad trappers shooting buffalo out the windows for fun. The landscape and attire of most of the characters in the film are initially the same as they would be in any classic western. For example, in the first scene, looking out the train window we see the familiar massive desert rocks that are the backdrop to so many previous westerns.  This pretext is quickly dropped as Blake enters the town of Machine where the traditional small western town is covered in soot and beaten, suspicious characters.  The town does have a western feel to it and could be the result of the kind of industrialization that the heroes in The Wild Bunch are fighting against.

 Quickly, however, and for the rest of the film, Blake is moving through large forests that have no resemblance to the standard western frontier. The trees progress from thin white birch to giant redwoods as Blake nears the end of his journey.  Though the forests have the same qualities inherent in the classic frontier scene, such as isolation and primitiveness, the open impressive landscapes that are a staple of the western genre are gone.

            The central characteristics of the western hero are determination and toughness.  They know exactly what to do in every situation even if it is incorrect, and are immovable once set in motion.  The hero in westerns is a representative of good and comes to the aid of civilization while at heart still in his element in the wild untamed lands.  These characteristics and theme are very much lacking in the film as Blake is certainly not tough and blindly moves in the direction fates takes him.

  He starts out as an educated easterner, complete with plaid suit and top hat, moving out west because his parents died and his girlfriend left him.  He is lost even before he enters the wilderness and looks like an overweight ten year old would bully him around.  His trade is accounting, probably the most civilized and out of place occupation in the west at that time.  Blake is also extremely passive throughout the entire film, a characteristic that would never be seen in a western character.  This is seen in an almost comic light because at first he kills people with a surprised, confused look on his face. Blake’s initial embodiment of civilization makes for great irony later on because the bounty hunters tracking him are being paid by the steel mill and yet are the embodiment of the frontier.

 Although he eventually becomes quite good at killing people, he can not provide food or navigation for himself and must rely to a large extent on his Indian admirer: “Nobody”.  Nobody was kidnapped and taken to England where he studied poetry. As a result he was given the name “he who talks loud, says nothing” but prefers to be called Nobody. Blake does not in fact have a destination and is lead around by Nobody the entire film.  Blake is shot in the chest after being denied a job and meeting a woman who is spoken for. We first meet Nobody as Blake wakes up to find the obese Native American digging in his chest to get the bullet out. Nobody regards Blake as a dead man from this point on and moves to abandon the “stupid fucking white man” until he comes to the conclusion that William Blake is the spirit of the great poet William Blake. An ardent admirer of the poet, Nobody resolves to take the spirit to the place where “the sea meets the sky” so his spirit can return to the afterlife. Nobody also greatly admires Blake’s natural prowess with regard to killing white men.

As Blake progresses further into the wilderness, civilization is gradually stripped from him and it is his motives that remain distinct from the western hero.  In short, he has no motives or desires past food and survival, and the latter is debatable.  In fact the only expression of need is a complaint of hunger when Nobody eats all the peyote and leaves Blake hungry.  Even his reasons for killing people seem ambiguous at times.  He completely turns his back on civilization by killing marshals and anyone trying to collect the reward on his head. He also embraces nature to an extent that it seems as though all memory of the civilized east is lost.

            The roles of the Native Americans are very distinct from their traditional roles in that they are more than one dimensional characters.  The Indian in genre westerns is generally hostile though is also infrequently regarded as a child of nature.  In the film, Nobody is given depth of character and Blake himself picks up some customs from his admirer.  Nobody dresses Blake’s wounds and takes him to a village which is adorned with totem poles and other cultural items.  This village contrasts with the town of Machine as it is clean and well kept, not a soot covered mud pit. The Native American culture is given a central role in this film whereas in genre westerns are never given more than a cursory glance.

            The greatest similarity between Dead Man and the classic western is with respect to the villains.  They are representatives of the large smelly smokestacks we see when Blake first comes into town.  Mr. Dickinson, the owner of the steel mill, hires the “finest killers of men and injuns” to go after Blake for killing his son, but seems much more concerned with recovering his horse than avenging his son’s death.  The hunters; a boy, a loudmouth, and a cannibal set off and are soon shown to be much more evil than expected (except for the loudmouth, who is just stupid).  The director makes a point of showing gruesome acts by the hunters and other people on the trail, particularly the Cole the cannibal, to create the image of what a frontiersman is like in this version of the west. This can also be seen as a contrast to one of the classic depictions of Native Americans as savage cannibals.

            The film ends with the death of all the main characters which seems proper as we can’t imagine an epilogue. Blake is going on to the spirit world and Nobody and the remaining bounty hunter kill each other simultaneously.

            The director commented that westerns were a “Fantasy world that America has used to process its own history” and tries here to convey a sense of fairness if not realism. Looking at the film as an accurate version of a western is not correct because although we have to suspend reality, Dead Man does not magically capture what the west at that time was like.  Jarmusch instead creates almost the polar opposite of the genre western to show a radically different point of view. That view is certainly more modern and gruesome but not more or less accurate than the western films that preceded it.















The Red Balloon–review 2003

                                                                        Red Balloon                           


`The subject of the film is the trust and respect totaling the friendship between the boy and the red balloon.  The theme of the film is that however new and unexpected, a strong bond can be created quickly and meaningfully with lasting effects.  The character of the boy is at first simple and pleasant, the first impression we get of him is a love for all things.  He stops to pet a cat on the way to school and seems very content with his position in life.  Encountering a friend that is interested in a mutually enjoyable relationship excites the boy even more.  This newfound delight transforms into protectiveness of something special as the boy’s dramatic becomes closer and more attached to the balloon.  The balloon’s character is more of a static character because it attaches itself quickly and profoundly to the boy and the protection by the boy becomes a reciprocal relationship. The balloon also has its playful side. The game of hide and seek the two play on the way to school is a great example of this.  The main conflict of the story is the adversarial relationship between the two friends and the group of schoolboys whose jealousy increases as the friendship between the balloon and the boy becomes stronger.  The crisis in the film is when the schoolboys steal the balloon and tie it up, leading to a chase where the balloon is freed by the boy.

            The boy is walking calmly to school, stops to pet a cat and walks down the stairs.  Going down the stairs, the boy looks up and sees something of interest on the top of a lamppost.  He climbs the lamppost and frees a red balloon that was stuck.  The boy descends the pole and continues to a fruit stand and bus stop where the balloon attracts attention.  This attention leads to a bus driver refusing entrance for the balloon. The boy then runs to school because the bus has left without him.  Arriving at the school late, the door is locked and he must ring the buzzer for entrance. The boy brings the balloon into school, gives it to a teacher while the headmaster glares at him from a window.  Coming out of school, as it is raining, the boy seeks shelter for his balloon under various people’s umbrellas.  The boy runs home and there is a shot of the mother looking disapprovingly at the balloon.  The mother then lets the balloon out the window, only for it to return when the boy comes to the window.  In the morning the balloon is released out the window by the boy and meets him downstairs.  The balloon and the boy plays games on the way to school, adding another layer to their growing closeness.  When they arrive at the bus stop this time the boy gets on and the balloon follows the bus to school.  At this point it becomes evident that the balloon does not want to be held all the time. This is more like the relationship between friends than that of a master- pet relationship.  The balloon climbs over the wall and is a great distraction to the schoolchildren. Because of this the boy is locked in the headmaster’s office and the balloon is unhappy along with the boy.  The balloon responds by tormenting the headmaster as he walks down the Street.  The upset headmaster then lets out the boy.  Passing through a bazaar on the way home the boy looks mainly at a picture of a little girl and the balloon looks at mirrors.  Following from this, the boy and the red balloon cross paths with a girl and her blue balloon. The two balloons try to get close to each other.  The other schoolboys set up an ambush but the pair manage to escape while the schoolboys call “sallope!’ after them.  The schoolboys capture the balloon and they tie it up.  The boy once again rescues the balloon and a long chase results.  The boy is captured and the balloon is shot with a slingshot and begins to loose air before it is stomped.  Before the balloon dies he calls his balloon buddies to give back to the boy. As a result the boy gets a ride into the sky.

“Ray” and aestetics 2003


Ray                                                                                                   Directed by Taylor Hackford

Starring Jamie Foxx

New and original music by Ray Charles


            “Don’t let nothing or nobody turn you into a cripple”

In order to evaluate this film we must recognize that there were three distinct artists who created it.  Ray Charles is the inspiration and creator of the music that is not only an evolving theme in the film but also contributes to some of the most powerful moments in it.  Jamie Foxx plays Ray Charles wonderfully with the aid of the man himself, who worked with Foxx during the filming of the movie.  Through the director, a great work of art was created based on first hand experience from one of the artists.


 1.“Ray” as a dramatic film

a.    The arraignment of episodes in this film is an effort to show the plot in two time frames.  The first time frame, which encompasses the time between 1949 and 1979, is the development of his career as well as the actions and decisions accompanied this development.  The other time frame is much shorter and has more significance in the life of Ray as supposed to the development of his music.


a.    In the first, or currant, time frame the actions that show his life at the time are centered on the development of his music from imitation to an R&B Gospel sound to incorporating country sounds. Surrounding this subject of Ray Charles’ search for his own sound are the mistakes and successes of a human being.


b.    What this film does extremely well in terms of plot is showing the motivations and context of Ray’s professional career and adult life through flashbacks to his childhood. The flashbacks are a tool that provides essential background themes without disturbing the plot as a structurally unified sequence of episodes.


2. Ray as a character in conflict

a.    There are three main conflicts in the film and we see the ultimate value of the film in the resolution of these conflicts.  The conflict that is first introduced is the one pitting a talented blind man against those who want to cheat him.  The underlying conflict and theme is the guilt Ray feels over the death of his little brother and the physical hallucinations this creates.  The last conflict is the fight against addiction and it is only through conquering this addiction that he can resolve some of the guilt about his brother’s death.


a.    The crisis for the first conflict is set up in the scene where Ray rejects the people who were cheating him and he is sitting in his room at church and an honest man knocks on the door

b.    The crisis for the heroin addiction builds throughout the film and finally culminates when his wife threatens to leaves him and he is facing real jail time. Through the withdrawal and therapy we see the addiction die with the echoing of the first line in the film, “Don’t ever let anything make you a cripple again”.  This revisit from his mother also alleviates some of the guilt lingering from his bother’s death.


3.  Ray is a dynamic character because in the course of the film we see very clearly the effects the world has on him. He does not know who he is in the beginning, imitating blues musicians because at that point his life is like heroin, “null and void”.  He is also very naïve and spends several years being hustled until he learns to only trust himself in business. Ray evolves into creating unique music based on his own experience, rather that mimicking the sounds of others.  As his wife says when they first meet, “God gave you the gift to sound like anyone you want, even yourself”


1.Evaluating “Ray” as a work of art

a.    Along with the use of flashbacks as a dramatic technique and the values at the core, the use of striking visual transitions and Ray Charles’ own music gives tremendous value to the artwork.


a.    The most prominent recurring image in the film is of the multi colored bottles hanging from a tree in Ray’s childhood.  We begin with this image and when Ray is going blind, we can feel this more acutely both because of the image’s beauty as well as the loss we feel in not being able to see it any more.(this may be a sign that I need glasses but when I saw that tree slowly become blurry, my eyes started to water just like the boy’s.)  One of the other striking visual techniques is the transition using grainy views of the tour bus in different cities. These kinds of visual stimulants are there to help us better identify with Ray and his blindness.


b.    The music is the most significant aesthetic component used in this film.  What better way to show musical development than by having the musician, now at the end of his career, supervise the recreation?  There are many scenes in the recording studio or with the band practicing and these are effective in showing the process rather than the end result.  This gives the viewer a great feel as to how the music was made into the finished artwork as well as the challages facing the musicians.



2. “Ray” is an outstanding work of art because the techniques of plot and aesthetic elements were used imaginatively and intelligently to not only accurately tell an amazing story but also convey deeper meaning and understanding to the viewer.


1.”Ray” as great art

a.    This film is a great work of art because through the creators, we feel the pain of Ray Charles, we feel his joy, despair, and shame.  We feel these things because we identify with him, no matter how foreign his actions or appearance might be.  We see Ray Charles as a great artist, but the public has seen that ever since he started playing and so we have the real connection and symbiosis because we feel him as a man instead of an icon.


a.    The reason we identify with him is because among other common values, he is just looking for the same thing as everyone else, happiness.  This is the transcendent value that is present throughout the film.  We may not know what it is like to read the bible in Braille, but the search for meaning and enjoyment in life is a universal experience.


                                                  i.    Some of the values are personally specific, such as the boycott of segregated music halls, but most are brave efforts to overcome tremendous obstacles.  Most people at some point in their lives have difficult decisions to make and challenges to overcome and many of these times people make mistakes.  The deepest connection to the film comes when Ray makes mistakes, not when he succeeds.  We can respect and admire his revolution in the record industry but when he is in the spasms of withdrawal, we emphasize.  A better connection is thus created using empathy rather than respect and admiration.



b.  This film gives a great degree of aesthetic pleasure through its well-executed construction and to add to this symbiosis is the fact that I already had an appreciation for the man’s music.  This adds a whole other component to the value of the film because its raises an appreciation of the music as well as the film itself.