Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Decided the Script Wasn't Quite Pretentious Enough

Reasons Why I Should Write the Sailor Moon Movie #13: Yet Another Rewrites

"A man of genius makes no mistakes; his errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery."

- James Joyce, pictured above with his trademark badass eyepatch

Don't get me wrong, I'm not calling myself a genius or anything. I just thought this quote from Joyce was particularly appropriate for my latest list of re-writes and revisions to the Sailor Moon screenplay.

For those who might not know about him, James Joyce was an early 20th century Irish writer whose his controversial experimental novels (Ulysses especially) have cast an immense shadow over English literature. Because of this, many writers (like Salman Rushdie, Samuel Beckett, Jorge Luis Borges, and John Updike, to name just four) have looked to Joyce as the ideal to which they must aspire-- or the hurdle they must overcome. As an aspiring writer, I too developed an brief infatuation with Joyce as well. It was back in the early 2000's, when I was attending the University of Victoria that I bought a copy of Ulysses. Reading the novel at the time, I found it to be alternately beautiful, intimidating, boring, and infuriating. I managed to read up to chapter 14 (out of 18), but "paused" (really "gave up") at that point, as the particular method of narrative experimentation Joyce decided to implement in that chapter resulted in prose that wasn't so much read as slogged through. I do want to finish reading the novel, but the prospects of that happening aren't good.

For the purposes of this post, though, what I really want to talk about is Joyce's first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, in particular one episode from the novel which I've found to be informative to how I want to treat Ami Mizuno (there's actually another episode which also intrigued me, but I'll leave that for later). The Portrait is a fictionalized autobiography that tells of the Irish-Catholic upbringing of Stephen Dedalus-- Joyce's alter-ego-- and the philosophical and artistic development he underwent as a result.

The first chapter describes Stephen's early childhood at a private college for boys. The episode in question occurs after a pair of older boys are caught "smugging." This discovery prompts the already strict school to institute a harsh disciplinary program, and naturally, Stephen is one of the first to feel its wrath. Stephen broke his glasses, and while he waits for a new pair, he is excused from work. However, when Stephen tries to explain this to the prefect of studies (who entered the class to performing a surprise inspection of sorts), the prefect accuses him of breaking the glasses deliberately in order to get out of doing work. The prefect then summarily pandys Stephen-- that is, the prefect hits Stephen's hands with a stick. The experience is both painful and humiliating, and Stephen is angered by what he knows was an unjust punishment. So he summons up his courage and decides to report to the the prefect's actions to school's rector, even though he knows that this might get him into even more trouble. Fortunately, the rector sides with Stephen, and the small, fearful boy returns to his classmates greeted as a hero.

You might already see some similarities between this story and the last segment of the script. In thinking about how I would tighten up this portion of the script, I kept this story from the Portrait in mind. I thought of having Ami go through something similar, but with a twist-- she decides not to report what Sakurada has done to the principal (though she does, gently, confront Sakurada herself), and feels guilty as a result. The remainder of the movie will see Ami gradually working up her courage, the way Stephen did-- only here, her enemy is not an abusive prefect of studies, but evil monsters who steal human energy.

Of course, that's not the only difference between Ami and Stephen. I've also considered turning Ami into a sort of team detective, like Sherlock Holmes or, if you really want your head to explode, Roland Pryzbylewski (Did I just made an allusion to The Wire to describe a Sailor Moon character? Hell yes I did!). But, that'll come later. For now, re-writes:

- As I mentioned, I'll try to put something in showing that Ami knows Sakurada's discipline is wrong, but will lack the courage to do anything about it.

- Also, I decided to remove the scene where Usagi talks to Ami after the end of detention. On top of the scene feeling a little too forced, I thought that I made Ami a little too rude and unnecessarily unlikeable. It'll make more sense for Usagi to bump into Ami later in the day; that'll come in the next segment.

- Speaking of forced. . . I wanna see if there's a way to get Rei into detention that makes more sense than what actually happened. Maybe she'll report to the principal. . . come to think of it, maybe Makoto might consider doing such a thing herself, deciding instead to bide her time and not get into more trouble with Sakurada, lest she get kicked out of another school.

- The part where Mamoru talks about how he started writing hiragana backward might be better served with a flashback instead. I'm worried about the script getting bogged down with flashbacks, which is why I didn't do it that way in the first place. Looking back, though, I realized that a flashback might be better than the sorta dull monologue that I wrote.

Until next time!

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