Another article today following up on yesterday. This one regarding The Coen Brothers and one of their masterpieces, Barton Fink. THE writer’s movie.
Sure, other films have the writer as the protagonist but this one not only delved into the world of the screenwriter. It delved into the mind of a writer. How we deal with the blank page, our imagination, our writer’s block, distractions and more. And it touches on all types of writers. Turturro’s Fink is basically playwright Clifford Odets and Mahoney’s Mayhew is a thinly veiled impersonation of legendary novelist, William Faulkner. Both lured to the luster of Hollywood.
This particular article is worth reading to gauge the variances directors take from a script when putting it on screen. And in this particular example, the very directors are the writers! No script, even one’s own, is totally seen the same way on film.
I wish the sample of script was a better gauge of The Coen Brothers voices but in this scene it’s more about the creation of the voice of the writer within the film being set here with the highfalutin dialogue as opposed to the dialogue the Coens are memorable for. I’d suggest you pick up one of their scripts for the read because all the little ticks, huhs, ums, etc…. are in the script! Yes, they hire great actors. But if you read any interview with those actors they will lay all the credit on the Coens because it’s all in the script. What you think is improvisation by the actors is all from the mind of the Coens.
Here’s a great example. Notice how they use ellipses’, repeated letters, commas, broken words, dashes and more to direct the actors and give their characters true voices like in real life conversation (language edited for mass audiences):
DUDE Walter, the Chinaman who peed on my rug, I can't go give him a bill, so what the f#@* are you talking about? WALTER What the f#@* are you talking about?! The Chinaman is not the issue here dude! I'm talking about drawing a line in the sand, Dude. Across this line you do not,-- also, Dude, Chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature, uh, Asian-American, Please. DUDE Walter, this isn't a guy who built the rail- roads, here, this is a guy -- WALTER What the f#@* are you talk-- DUDE Walter, he peed on my rug. DONNY He peed on the Dude's rug. WALTER DONNIE YOU'RE OUT OF YOUR ELEMENT! Dude the Chinaman is not the issue here. DUDE So who, who-- WALTER Jeff Lebowski. The other Jeffrey Lebowski. The millionaire. DUDE That's f#@*ing interesting man, that's f#@*ing interesting... WALTER Plus, he has the wealth, obviously, and the resources, uh, so that there is no reason, there's no F#@*ING reason, why his wife should go out and owe money all over town, and then they come and they pee on your f#@*ing rug! Am I wrong? DUDE No... WALTER Am I wrong! DUDE Yeah, but-- WALTER Okay then. uh, He elaborately clears his throat. WALTER That rug really tied the room together, did it not? DUDE F#@*in' A. DONNY And this guy peed on it. WALTER Donny, Please. DUDE You know, this is the f#@*in' guy... I could find this Lebowski guy. DONNY His name is Lebowski? That's your name, Dude! DUDE This is the guy, who should compensate me for the f#@*ing rug. His wife goes out and owes money all over town, and they pee on my rug? WALTER They pee on your f#@*ing Rug? DUDE They peed on my f#@*ing rug. WALTER Thaaat's right Dude; they peed on your f#@*ing Rug.