Deconstruction

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  • Deconstruction

    Am currently working a short film script to send into film school as part of my portfolio.

    It details a film major who is on winter break from college and is back in his hometown, where he confronted by his ex-girlfriend's best friend, who asks to help her in tracking down his ex. He decides to get involved, dragging his friend along with him.

    The main point of it all is to show how the protagonist idolizes the heroes of detective movies and film noir, yet ultimately learns that movies are movies for a reason. He thinks that it would be fun to investigate the disappearance his ex, but regrets doing so when he learns the awful truth.

    While the aforementioned paragraph is mainly what the script is about, it's also a deconstruction of the classic film noir, toying around with some of the archetypes and dialogue choices and relocating them to a modern setting, where they don't fit. I'm about halfway through writing it and starting to realize that it's turning into a farce.

    Question: roughly, what makes a deconstruction a deconstruction? I've seen The Long Goodbye and The Wild Bunch, so I have a pretty good idea, but I need some pointers.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: Deconstruction

    Originally posted by StefanoEarnest View Post
    Am currently working a short film script to send into film school as part of my portfolio.

    It details a film major who is on winter break from college and is back in his hometown, where he confronted by his ex-girlfriend's best friend, who asks to help her in tracking down his ex. He decides to get involved, dragging his friend along with him.

    The main point of it all is to show how the protagonist idolizes the heroes of detective movies and film noir, yet ultimately learns that movies are movies for a reason. He thinks that it would be fun to investigate the disappearance his ex, but regrets doing so when he learns the awful truth.

    While the aforementioned paragraph is mainly what the script is about, it's also a deconstruction of the classic film noir, toying around with some of the archetypes and dialogue choices and relocating them to a modern setting, where they don't fit. I'm about halfway through writing it and starting to realize that it's turning into a farce.

    Question: roughly, what makes a deconstruction a deconstruction? I've seen The Long Goodbye and The Wild Bunch, so I have a pretty good idea, but I need some pointers.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    (This is worth exactly what you're paying for it)

    My first question is that if you're being led to a farcical take on the story, then is there a way for you to accomplish the deconstruction in a light-hearted or farcical way? Why not go with the flow and see where it leads you? Comical or farcical may not be how you originally envisioned it, but it could be a welcome breath of fresh air for those reviewing all those 'serious' works of perspiring film school applicants.

    Given that humor is hard to accomplish, wouldn't this then make your achievement twofold? A comical deconstruction?
    Last edited by Clint Hill; 03-21-2014, 03:58 PM.
    "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Deconstruction

      "Adaptation" by Charlie Kaufman

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Deconstruction

        In the culinary arts, a "deconstructed" something-or-other is a euphemism for "open-faced sandwich I'll charge you $17 for".

        Generally, a deconstruction is when you have all the genre elements (the iconography, the themes, the tropes) made present and visible, but presented in such a way that the whole is no longer the sum of its parts. It's all on the plate, and it should add up to a burger, but it's a quail egg crostini, ground beef carpaccio, and a wedge salad with the whole thing drizzled with zigzags of tomato aioli.

        This is different from a farce or parody or spoof in that these generally preserve all the elements in the proper structure, but selectively either deflate or over-inflate each one for comic effect. The private dick is ludicrously intelligent, or ludicrously incompetent. The damsel is egregiously helpless, or over-the-top kung fu butt-kicking.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Deconstruction

          Once read that classic film noir is about a woman with no past, and a man with no future. And if you want to do a modern noir, look at Prisoners, by Aaron Guzikowski. Brick is a neo-noir classic, from Rian Johnson, and I think could be considered a "deconstruction," much like his The Brothers Bloom was a deconstruction of the con movie, and Inception is a deconstruction of the heist movie. Speaking of the Nolans, Following and Memento are a great one-two modern noir punch.

          By the way, the best way to do a deconstruction, IMO, is to think of it as a serious spoof, or satire. Look at The Cabin in the Woods. It's not a spoof, as some lesser critics might say: it's a self-aware genre analysis and a commentary on our cultural need for conventions.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Deconstruction

            Brick is definitely a movie the OP should watch. Love that film.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Deconstruction

              Originally posted by madworld View Post
              Brick is definitely a movie the OP should watch. Love that film.
              Brick in all its glory!

              Also Brothers Bloom, & Nolan's the Prestige, Black Dynamite (more of a spoof with deconstructive elements?), Zero Effect, Blazing Saddles & I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka, off the top.
              12 Angry Men is proof that all you need is a bunch of good actors, good characters, clear motivations and a table. -- Ben Odgren; Go into the Story

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              • #8
                Re: Deconstruction

                TVtropes has a good article on deconstruction, as well as several non-farce examples:

                http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...Deconstruction

                They have a really interesting analysis of how Wrath of Khan is a deconstruction of Captain Kirk. Everything we knew about Kirk from the original series (young, dashing, doesn't play by the rules, a new villain each week, a woman in every port, no long-standing consequences to his actions) essentially blows up in his face. It's a very subtle, non-self-indulgent, and non-farcical way to deconstruct the original series.

                If only Wrath of Khan had been the franchise finale that it was meant to be...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Deconstruction

                  "Watchmen" is a deconstruction of the superhero film.
                  "A screenwriter is much like being a fire hydrant with a bunch of dogs lined up around it.- -Frank Miller

                  "A real writer doesn't just want to write; a real writer has to write." -Alan Moore

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Deconstruction

                    Originally posted by Bunker View Post
                    TVtropes has a good article on deconstruction, as well as several non-farce examples:

                    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...Deconstruction

                    They have a really interesting analysis of how Wrath of Khan is a deconstruction of Captain Kirk. Everything we knew about Kirk from the original series (young, dashing, doesn't play by the rules, a new villain each week, a woman in every port, no long-standing consequences to his actions) essentially blows up in his face. It's a very subtle, non-self-indulgent, and non-farcical way to deconstruct the original series.

                    If only Wrath of Khan had been the franchise finale that it was meant to be...
                    It did its job all too well.
                    "A screenwriter is much like being a fire hydrant with a bunch of dogs lined up around it.- -Frank Miller

                    "A real writer doesn't just want to write; a real writer has to write." -Alan Moore

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Deconstruction

                      Originally posted by StefanoEarnest View Post
                      Am currently working a short film script to send into film school as part of my portfolio.

                      It details a film major who is on winter break from college and is back in his hometown, where he confronted by his ex-girlfriend's best friend, who asks to help her in tracking down his ex. He decides to get involved, dragging his friend along with him.

                      The main point of it all is to show how the protagonist idolizes the heroes of detective movies and film noir, yet ultimately learns that movies are movies for a reason. He thinks that it would be fun to investigate the disappearance his ex, but regrets doing so when he learns the awful truth.

                      While the aforementioned paragraph is mainly what the script is about, it's also a deconstruction of the classic film noir, toying around with some of the archetypes and dialogue choices and relocating them to a modern setting, where they don't fit. I'm about halfway through writing it and starting to realize that it's turning into a farce.

                      Question: roughly, what makes a deconstruction a deconstruction? I've seen The Long Goodbye and The Wild Bunch, so I have a pretty good idea, but I need some pointers.

                      Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
                      Deconstruction comes from both an awareness of a particular form and a desire to make that form evident to the viewer by disassembling it and putting it back together in a way that makes its pieces visible to the audience in a way that the original form was not visible to those who originally experienced it.

                      For instance the basic form and tropes of the old western were just there. Audiences who went to see them weren't particularly conscious of those forms, although if you asked a viewer about them, they might have acknowledged them -- and certainly would have noticed if something were missing or out of place.

                      But generally, the forms and conventions were established. The audiences expected them and when they went to a western, they got what they expected.

                      But as you moved into the sixties and seventies a new generation of theatrical westerns were being made by filmmakers that intentionally challenged those expectations. Those who had previously embodied the forces of order and justice -- the marshals and sheriffs and settlers and the cavalry were no longer necessarily the good guys. Indians and convicts and banditos and bounty hunters were no longer necessarily the bad guys.

                      Or maybe you couldn't even be sure who the good guys and the bad guys were. The moral landscape had become one of grays instead of black hats and white hats.

                      That is a classic example of the deconstruction of an established genre.

                      I think that your problem may come because even though you're trying to deconstruct the detective genre, you've made your character a screenwriter, and that's given him a kind of self-awareness, not only of the cliches of the detective genre, but of the entire idea of deconstruction.

                      It's one thing to be a character in a movie that is an example of genre deconstruction. It's another to be a character in movie that is an example of genre deconstruction that happens to know all about genre deconstruction.

                      Suddenly, you end feeding your whole idea through a kind of weird feedback loop that almost guarantees a plunge into absurdity. It almost begs for that moment when your character starts to become aware of the camera that's actually pointing at him, or starts to jump every time there's a cut.

                      If you want an example of how this has been done, I refer you to Brick, which is an example of a deconstruction of Film Noir placed in the setting of a contemporary high school, complete with the search for a missing ex-girl friend.

                      But definitely not a farce -- and no screenwriters. That is, the *movie* is self-referential -- it refers to the genre of Film Noir all the time. But the characters are blissfully unaware of the fact that they are part of deconstruction of film noir. They simply go about their business.

                      And I think that may be the difference.

                      NMS

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Deconstruction

                        Originally posted by nmstevens View Post
                        Deconstruction comes from both an awareness of a particular form and a desire to make that form evident to the viewer by disassembling it and putting it back together in a way that makes its pieces visible to the audience in a way that the original form was not visible to those who originally experienced it.

                        For instance the basic form and tropes of the old western were just there. Audiences who went to see them weren't particularly conscious of those forms, although if you asked a viewer about them, they might have acknowledged them -- and certainly would have noticed if something were missing or out of place.

                        But generally, the forms and conventions were established. The audiences expected them and when they went to a western, they got what they expected.

                        But as you moved into the sixties and seventies a new generation of theatrical westerns were being made by filmmakers that intentionally challenged those expectations. Those who had previously embodied the forces of order and justice -- the marshals and sheriffs and settlers and the cavalry were no longer necessarily the good guys. Indians and convicts and banditos and bounty hunters were no longer necessarily the bad guys.

                        Or maybe you couldn't even be sure who the good guys and the bad guys were. The moral landscape had become one of grays instead of black hats and white hats.

                        That is a classic example of the deconstruction of an established genre.

                        I think that your problem may come because even though you're trying to deconstruct the detective genre, you've made your character a screenwriter, and that's given him a kind of self-awareness, not only of the cliches of the detective genre, but of the entire idea of deconstruction.

                        It's one thing to be a character in a movie that is an example of genre deconstruction. It's another to be a character in movie that is an example of genre deconstruction that happens to know all about genre deconstruction.

                        Suddenly, you end feeding your whole idea through a kind of weird feedback loop that almost guarantees a plunge into absurdity. It almost begs for that moment when your character starts to become aware of the camera that's actually pointing at him, or starts to jump every time there's a cut.

                        If you want an example of how this has been done, I refer you to Brick, which is an example of a deconstruction of Film Noir placed in the setting of a contemporary high school, complete with the search for a missing ex-girl friend.

                        But definitely not a farce -- and no screenwriters. That is, the *movie* is self-referential -- it refers to the genre of Film Noir all the time. But the characters are blissfully unaware of the fact that they are part of deconstruction of film noir. They simply go about their business.

                        And I think that may be the difference.

                        NMS
                        This right here was entirely helpful. I'm a big fan The Wild Bunch fan, so I completely get what you're talking about.

                        The main character in my script is a big fan of film noir, so he tries incorporating aspects of that genre into the investigation by imitating film noir heroes and basing most of his conclusions on what happens in film noir, only to have it backfire on him most of the time.

                        I guess it's less of a deconstruction in that case because a lot of the gags I employ revolve him realizing that film noir exists only in the movies, and they are mainly farcical. For instance, he constantly tries striking his matches anywhere before his friend tells him it doesn't work like that; the trench coat he wears is his dad's and is oversized; he has a Miles Davis CD in the car that he uses to imagine that he's actually in a film noir; and etc.

                        I'm only 19, so a lot of this might sound idiotic, but I think it blends quite nicely into making everything seem incredibly surreal.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Deconstruction

                          Originally posted by StefanoEarnest View Post
                          .

                          I'm only 19, so a lot of this might sound idiotic, but I think it blends quite nicely into making everything seem incredibly surreal.
                          Actually, it sounds pretty cool.

                          So ... in the end does he change majors?
                          wry

                          The rule is the first fifteen pages should enthrall me, but truth is, I'm only giving you about 3-5 pages. ~ Hollywood Script Reader

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Deconstruction

                            There are many noir spinoffs...

                            Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
                            Brazil
                            The Naked Lunch
                            eXistenZ
                            Blade Runner

                            And those are just a few of the good ones. This has been done, a lot.

                            PS
                            The X-Files???
                            Dark City
                            Hell of a Deal -- Political Film Blog

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Deconstruction

                              Originally posted by StefanoEarnest View Post
                              This right here was entirely helpful. I'm a big fan The Wild Bunch fan, so [NMS]I completely get what you're talking about.

                              The main character in my script is a big fan of film noir, so he tries incorporating aspects of that genre into the investigation by imitating film noir heroes and basing most of his conclusions on what happens in film noir, only to have it backfire on him most of the time.

                              I guess it’s less of a deconstruction in that case because a lot of the gags I employ revolve him realizing that film noir exists only in the movies, and they are mainly farcical. For instance, he constantly tries striking his matches anywhere before his friend tells him it doesn’t work like that; the trench coat he wears is his dad’s and is oversized; he has a Miles Davis CD in the car that he uses to imagine that he’s actually in a film noir; and etc.

                              I’m only 19, so a lot of this might sound idiotic, but I think it blends quite nicely into making everything seem incredibly surreal.
                              It sounds like your protag is a normal guy who must help his ex-girlfriend's best friend find his ex-girlfriend. The world of your story starts off as the real world, not a noir world.

                              Because your protag has no real detective experience, he trys to emulate his movie hero, a noir movie detective, as they search for the missing girl. At that point you can go in at least two directions.

                              The world of the story changes to a noir world or the world remains the present normal world. In either case your protag takes on the persona of a noir detective, using noir techniques. Of course, the results will differ.

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