A memorable scene from the 2012 movie Lincoln, written by Tony Kushner.
Plot Summary: As the Civil War continues to rage, America’s president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.
INT. ODD FELLOWS’ HALL, WASHINGTON - NIGHTOnstage, Gounod’s Faust, Act Three, scene eight, the garden
outside Marguerite’s cottage, a gorgeously romantic night.
MARGUERITE and FAUST are alone singing. The Lincolns, in
their box, watch quietly. Elizabeth Keckley sits next to Mary.Mary turns to Lincoln. They speak in whispers. Mrs. Keckley
tries not to listen but she can’t help hearing what they say.MARY
You think I’m ignorant of what
you’re up to because you haven’t
discussed this scheme with me as
you ought to have done. When have I
ever been so easily bamboozled?
I believe you when you insist that
amending the constitution and
abolishing slavery will end this
war. And since you are sending my
son into the war, woe unto you if
you fail to pass the amendment.LINCOLN
Seward doesn’t want me leaving big
muddy footprints all over town.MARY
No one ever lived who knows better
than you the proper placement of
footfalls on treacherous paths.
Seward can’t do it. You must.
Because if you fail to secure the
necessary votes, woe unto you, sir.
You will answer to me.
Here is the movie version of the scene:
This is a dialogue-driven scene and at the hands of such a talent as Kushner, probably a good idea to stick to the text which is what the actors Sally Field and Daniel Day-Lewis do.
One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.
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