Monday, March 13, 2006

Looking for le mot juste

So, a screenplay? One that allegorizes the desire to be 'in' the world but not 'of' it? Perhaps one that challenges the validity of that idiom? Regardless, that was the assignment, so here we go...

For those of you in my Christianity & Culture class this will actually be new to you since I never ended up reading my pitch (nor did two others, but its ok). Well, just as well. Mine was quite possibly the darkest of all the ideas. You see, my idea was steeped in symbolism and metaphorical value, but on the surface could be hard to interpret (like when people insist that Signs was about aliens). But enough of this, on to the movie film!

It is mid-afternoon on Labour Day, 1837. Henry de La Poer Beresford and his foolhardy companions head out on a fox hunt near Melton Mowbray, England. After much success they happened upon a shed which they entered searching for more liquor but found only copious amounts of red paint for farm use. Known for doing anything for a bet, Henry and his chums splatter the paint on buildings up and down High Street giving birth to a new idiom.

So began (or continued) the revelry and daredevil antics of Henry and his 'friends' into London. Not long after their 'artistic venture' one of the group dared him to don a 'devil mask' and spook some random fool. So, hiding in a cemetery they waited for their 'prey.' Conveniently an older businessman was returning late from work along their path. As he passed the group hoisted Henry on the wall from which he leaped on the man. Full of adrenaline from the ambush and satisfied with the effect of terror, Henry sprinted off into the night only to meet up with his friends at a club. And so we have the first documented encounter with the strange leaping 'terror' nick-named "Springheel Jack" by the London Times.

Well, a successful prank, eh? Oh, but it was more than that. You see, the terror imbibed and dispensed that night had thrilled Henry beyond what he thought possible. Sure he was a reveler and a playboy, but these were attached to his title (Marquess of Waterford) as were his fairweather friends and romantic successes. Inside Henry hated and despised his crowd. Indeed, he felt perhaps he hated everyone. Maybe he was abused as a child, rejected by a love, putdown for his personality, or all of the above. But he harboured resentment against society even though it was his livelihood.
But "Jack"... in "Jack" he had discovered power. The power to terrorize gave vehicle for his upset.

From here we see the escalation of depravity as Henry becomes more debauch and Jack more licentious and terrifying (a veritable 'Jekyl' and 'Hyde'). Indeed, like a deprave Bruce Wayne and cruel Caped Crusader he created a dark creature with impish features, tall muscular stature, and the ability to leap inhuman distances and heights and even spit blue flame.
Besides the allusions I've already made, this one should be noted.

So, there it is. I think I would go for Robert Rodriguez as director and Daniel Day Lewis for "Jack" if he would be willing to do it (and if the casting agent didn't think he was too old to play 26 year-old Henry).


Anonymous said...

Springheel Jcak eh? I think that you are right about yours being the darkest even though I'm not in you class and didn't hear the others. However, I think that you could probably pull it off. With the genre of movies that are popular right now it would probably be a big hit - as long as you had the right cast. And yet, I am hesitant if I would watch it - scary movies scare me (ironic, isn't it).

Jon said...

In the opening scene, before the foxhunt, Henry is reading The Private Memoirs & Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg and on the table nearby is a novella titled Famous Scots: Deacon William Brodie (or perhaps at some point they visit the pub of the same name in Edinburgh).

Jon said...

I'm thinking maybe M. Night Shyamalan for a director too, especially if I can make the story more enigmatic. And on that topic, try this on:
The story starts with a Dr. Louis Utterson being called upon for his insight into the mystery of 'Jack' while having tea at Deacon Brodie's Tavern. (If not everybody immediately catches the allusion here then the subtlety is to my liking). He could be the narrative voice. For more allusion I could even have Art Bell or John Keel cameo as the attacked businessman or something.