Diana single-handedly takes on the German Army in the breathtaking No Man’s Land scene from the movie Wonder Woman.
Let’s face it: In a fundamental way, screenwriting is scene-writing, so the more we learn about this aspect of the craft, the better.
Today: The 2017 movie Wonder Woman, screenplay by Allan Heinberg, story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs, Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston.
Setup: The Allied forces are stuck in their advance against the German army. In between, what is referred to as No Man’s Land. An excerpt from the script leading up to the action:
EXT. ALLIED TRENCH (BELGIUM) - CONTINUOUS ACTION
-- the ALLIED TRENCH at the BELGIAN FRONT.
The team moves into the muddy trench, occupied by TOMMIES
-- BRITISH SOLDIERS. Diana and the others get to their
feet, bullets and shells whistling and EXPLODING
Where are we?
You wanted me to take you to the
war. This is it. The front
But where are Ares' men -- the
Charlie motions past the shelling and flying bullets.
Couple hundred yards that way. In
a trench like this one.
Diana's dismay grows. She looks at the faces of the
frightened, worn-down soldiers as they move through a
seemingly endless, narrow passage carved deep into the
earth, walled on either side by SANDBAGS and DIRT, which
is quickly pooling into MUD at their feet.
(shouting down the
Oi! Chief's back!
TRENCH OFFICERS (O.S.)
Chief!/Welcome back!/Nick of time!
The Chief tosses out PACKS OF CIGARETTES, MATCHES, and
other goods to grateful soldiers. Diana watches the
MONEY exchange hands, then she hears the sound of
A YOUNG MOTHER, MARIE (25), holds her DAUGHTER, NINA (6),
sobbing to The Chief. Diana listens, though Steve can't
[The Germans took everything --
homes, food... the ones who
couldn't escape... they took as
[Where did this happen?]
Marie points: beyond the trench.
We need to help these people.
Steve looks across no man's land, shakes his head.
We need to stay on mission.
(nods to Steve)
And there's no safe crossing for
at least a day ahead.
Charlie takes a swig from his well-worn FLASK.
Then what are we waitin' for?
But these people are dying,
they've nothing to eat. And in
the village... Enslaved, she said.
There's nothing we can do about
How can you say that? What is the
matter with you?
This is no man's land, Diana. It
means no man can cross it. This
is the worst point on the entire
front. This battalion has been
here for nearly a year and they've
barely gained an inch because on
the other side are Germany's
deadliest soldiers. Pointing
machine guns at every square inch
of this place. This is not
something you can cross. It's not
So we do nothing?
We are doing something. We can't
save every person in this war.
Besides, it's not what we came
here to do.
She steps away from the group, turning away from them.
Steve thinks she's upset.
But when Diana turns back to Steve, he sees her face of
determination, wearing --
ANTIOPE'S TIARA --
AND FOR THE FIRST TIME -- WE REALLY SEE WONDER WOMAN!
No, but it's what I'm going to do.
Diana moves past the team, stepping over the top of the
And now, the action!
Notice the build-up to the action:
Beginning: Diana learns of the locals’ troubles. Something must be done.
Middle: Against all odds, Diana charges into No Man’s Land.
End: With Diana in the lead, the Allies attack and send the Germans running.
When this scene hit the screen at the theater where I watched the movie with a packed house, there was a palpable and collective rush in the crowd. I was especially struck by the reaction of women and girls, some of them cheering through tears as Diana forged into No Man’s Land taking the brunt of the German’s assault, enabling the Allied forces to move forward.
It is most definitely a Great Scene!
To read all of the entries in the Great Scene series, go here.