Sunday, March 29, 2009

Subplot - A Key to An Inner Door

We end Irish month with the delightfully funny Waking Ned Devine. When an elderly man wins the lottery, he dies from shock, and the entire town covers up the death and schemes to claim his winnings. You'd think this was a movie about greed, but not so, and the key to this fact is in the subplot.

First, here's what goes on in the main thread of the story. In the tiny coastal village of Tullymore, someone has won the lottery. It's announced on the telly that one person holds the ticket, and the townspeople set out to guess who it is. Jackie and Michael are old men who act like young boys and are best friends. They ask around town and suspect it may be Pig Finn because he's driving a fancy sportscar, but discover it's only borrowed. Finally, the pair, along with Jackie's wife Annie throw a chicken dinner party where they plan to ask each guest what they would do if they won the money, hoping someone will tip their hand. At the end of the evening, it appears that no one has won. Annie notices, however, that one plate of chicken was never eaten. Someone missed the party.

After a quick run-through in their heads of the guests, they realize it was Ned Devine that didn't make it. Jackie goes to check on the man, and finds him dead in his chair, the winning lotto ticket clutched in his fingers, and a big grin on his face. Ned, it seems, lives alone and has no family. Jackie goes back home without calling the authorities as he thinks about how he should approach this new development. That night, he has a dream where Ned is eating his chicken dinner while they both drift in a boat toward "the light." Ned is at peace and in a celebratory mood. Jackie wakes up and believes Ned is telling him to claim the money.

Jackie convinces Michael to pretend to be Ned when the lottery official comes, and they hide the body. When the man, Jim Kelly, shows up, he sees Jackie on the beach and asks where Tullymore is. He hasn't seen Michael as he is behind a large boulder. It seems the two friends were skinny dipping in the ocean, and Jackie has gotten dressed while Michael lingers with his towel on. When Jackie realizes this is the lottery official, he hops into Jim's car to direct him to Ned's house, the...uh...long way. Meanwhile, Michael, who is having trouble getting his pants on, hops on his motorcycle stark naked except for his helmet (safety first, you know,) and races to Ned's before the car can get there. (I'll talk about this brief nude scene at the end of the article.) Michael changes into Ned's clothes, and after a few more Laverne and Shirley moments, Jim is dupped into believing that Michael is his man. He leaves satisfied and says he'll have to visit the village in a few days to make some inquiries to be sure that he is Ned Devine.

Now they have to convince the town to go along with the scheme. Annie doesn't want a part of it, telling them they'll both go to prison.

Jackie calls the town together to explain what he and Michael have done. He apologizes for thinking he could claim the money by himself. He had no idea the winnings would be so large--seven million pounds. It's all or none of us, he says. The money will be claimed and divided equally among the fifty-two of them. He tells them to think about it, and later they will sign a paper saying they agree. Either all sign, or they don't claim the money, and he and Michael will take what's coming to them. Annie comes around, saying Jackie is no good to her in prison, but you get the idea that the amount of money also swayed her.

The next day, everyone signs except the town sourpuss, a bitter old woman in an electric wheelchair. Everyone shows up at her door bearing gifts to bribe her into signing. With Jackie, Annie, and Michael sitting in her parlor, she asks them, "Did you know if you report a fraud, you get ten percent of the winnings?" That sum would be more than they're offering her to sign their paper. She assures them she won't call the Lotto, but she wants her share bumped up to the amount of money she would have gotten if she had.

They hold Ned's funeral, and the official shows up unexpectedly. He listens as Jackie gives the eulogy, quickly revising it to bury his old friend Michael. Michael listens to his own funeral, thoroughly enjoying all the great things Jackie is saying about their friendship. Afterward, Jim Kelly tells Michael/Ned that he's satisfied and that he'll get his check.

The wake becomes a true celebration. And as Ned's friends party, Jim drives away.

Meanwhile, Lizzie, knowing they'll never give her the exorbitant amount she'd asked for, makes her way to the nearest phone booth, (some miles out of town,) in her motorized wheelchair. They'd had a storm earlier and it knocked down all the phone lines in town. She shows her true colors when the wheelchair runs out of juice, and she gets out and walks. Lizzie apparently only uses the thing to get sympathy. She finally makes it to the phone booth and begins her call to the Lotto. At the same time, Jim Kelly, who has dreadful allergies in the country, sneezes and loses control of his car. We think he's going to hit the phone booth, but he swerves in time, nearly hits a vicar in his van, and causes the vicar to hit the booth, knocking it off the cliff and to the sandy beach below. Lizzie has had her come-uppance, and it seems by a divine hand as it was a man of God who had finished her off.

That is the main story line. It seems complete. What could the writer have added to it in a subplot?

Briefly, here's the subplot. A young single mother loves Pig Finn, but can't stand his smell. He get's his name by working a pig farm. Finn loves her back, but can't quit because he needs the money. A wealthy outsider also loves Maggie, and she'd do well to marry him, but she doesn't love him. She knows Finn would be a great dad to Maurice. Both men think they could be the boy's father. She finally tells Finn that he's the father, but confesses to Jackie during the wake that Ned Devine is really the boy's dad. Maurice is Ned's heir, and therefore could have the entire seven million pounds. But, she tells him he'd be spoiled from the money. Besides, Finn would never understand, and Maurice would grow up without a dad.

Yowza! What a message! Our movie about greed has become a movie about sacrifice. Ned sacrifices his life for his community, (okay, he had a little help.) Jackie and Michael sacrifice going to prison to bring in the other townspeople. And Maggie sacrifices the whole Shepherds Pie to give her son what he really needs.

The subplot opens the door to this theme of sacrifice, making it even more clear, and giving it a satisfying punch.

Now, a word about the nudity and other less moral issues in this film. At first, I wondered why they would have a scene showing naked wrinkled old men. (It's all from the back except the motorcycle ride, that that's so far away, and possibly blurred that you can't see anything you shouldn't.) Then, I realized that it shows these guys as the little boys they are. It's symbolic. It's also European. They don't have the same mindset that we have here. Nothing was dirty, but rather innocent contrasted with the fact that they were about to break the law. Another issue you may have as a Christian is Lizzie's demise. If this had been written from a Christian perspective, I'm sure she would have seen the error of her ways. And finally Maggie's problem--a son who doesn't know who his father is. Throughout the film, young Maurice confides in the vicar, (not the one who delivered judgement on Lizzie's phone booth.) We see him as a kid seeking answers, and seeking them in the right places.

So, if you watch this movie, please just enjoy the story. Like God's people, it's not perfect, but it sure is entertaining to watch!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Conflicts of Epic Proportions

Couldn't do Irish Month without mentioning Far and Away, written by Bob Dolman, co-written and directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman -- none of whom are Irish, by the way. However, they manage to capture that excitement when America was new and immigrants flocked here to make their dreams come true.

I have heard that to have good conflict in your stories you should put your character up a tree and throw rocks at them. This movie pummels Cruise's character, Joseph Donelly, until he is bloody and bruised, often literally. After a tiff with a landlord, (in this case one who owns the land that the Donelly's live on and work,) Joseph's father is hurt. He dies in his son's arms, but comes back to tell him something. "You're an especially odd boy." Once Joseph gets over that, his father speaks the theme of the story. "Without land, a man is nothing. . .Land is a man's very own soul."

With his father gone, Joseph is faced with eviction, and he takes revenge on the landlord. After several failed attempts at killing him, he ends up getting hurt by his own weapon. The landlord nurses him back to health with the intention of hanging him when he's well enough. He escapes and is caught by Stephen Chase played by Thomas Gibson. Stephen is the arrogant manager of the property and is in love with Shannon, the landlord's daughter. Joseph spits on Stephen who in turn challenges him to a duel.Shannon is a rebel and has learned that they're giving away free land in America. She helps Joseph escape and together they board a ship bound for the new world.

Joseph pretends to be her servant on the journey, a job thrust upon him unwillingly. But he keeps up the pretense until they port in Boston because Shannon has paid his way. They find out from a kindly gentleman that to claim the free land, they must race for it in Oklahoma. Worried about the expense, Shannon tells the man she has silver spoons and can sell them. He helps her find a place, but then steals them from her. He is shot by someone with a similar complaint against him. The spoons scatter and a crowd gathers. Shannon's spoons are gone, picked up by other hungry vultures. Joseph rescues her bag from being the next victim and gets Shannon out of the street. Now, poor Shannon and Joseph are homeless.

He finds an Irish community and is given a room. He tells the landlord that Shannon is his sister, hiding the fact that she is from money to keep her from being tossed out. This particular group looks with disdain on the wealthy, regardless of whether they just lost their fortune in a mad spoon frenzy. They get jobs at a chicken processing plant, which I'm sure is way beneath Shannon's social status.

Back in Ireland, Shannon's parents' home is burned to the ground. They, too, decide to try their hand in America and look for Shannon.

While living together, they pretend to hate each other, but in truth are becoming attracted to each other. One night Joseph leaves, frustrated at his feelings and stumbles upon a barehanded boxing match in a bar. He does some pummeling of his own and wins the match, which thrusts him into a new social status. He becomes a celebrity overnight as he wins match after match and instead of saving the money, buys suits and hats.

Shannon becomes frustrated with his buying habits, knowing they could be well on their way to Oklahoma. He brags that he's making the most money and she vows to out-do him at earning cash.

He heads out to the biggest match of his boxing career, and while there sees Shannon dancing in the bar. This doesn't settle well. The men in the club urge him to fight and offer $200 to back him. Shannon encourages him to fight one more time so they can have enough money to go to Oklahoma. He agrees, but during the match, sees Shannon being pawed. He leaves the match to protect her from the roving hands of one of the backers who happens to be a city council member. He attempts to leave the fight and save her, but the other man thinks he's still in and throws a sucker punch. Joseph loses the match and he is thrown out of the club and onto the street. When he wakes up, he sees Stephen asking people if they'd seen Shannon.

He runs to the room he shares with Shannon. There, he finds the councilmen who had backed him rummaging through his personal belongings in his apartment. They want their $200. They steal it from the savings and toss both Joseph and Shannon onto the streets, bullying the landlord by telling him not to let them back in or the place would be shut down.

Joseph and Shannon are homeless -- again.

Up until now, these characters have been beaten again and again with various sized rocks. Did I, as the audience want it to stop? No! It kept the action moving. If they had gone to Boston, hopped on the first train heading west and fulfilled their dream, I would have been disappointed. Conflict equals action, and action equals page-turners. Keep them turning pages, and you have acheived the ultimate goal of a writer.

Having said that, an entire movie or book of rock-throwing can get tedious. It's best to craft in some downtime, just don't make it too long. The next scene gives the audience a brief breather.

Joseph and Shannon are cold and hungry. They find a seemingly empty house of affluence and break in to stay warm and find food. Shannon warms to Joseph, realizing what he sacrificed to protect her. He continues to sacrifice when they pretend they belong there and he takes on the servant's role once again. She tells him she'd rather pretend they are married, letting him know that she feels they are equals now. This is the turning point in their relationship. As they "play house," the real owners show up. When the couple flees, Shannon is shot. Knowing she'll die without help, Joseph makes the ultimate sacrifice and takes her to where her parents are staying in Boston.

Knowing her family will never let her near him again, he heads west and works on the Trans-Continental Railroad. After many months, it seems he's abandoned the thought of owning land. But he has a dream where his dying father reminds him of his desire -- a scene that echoes the beginning of the movie. He joins a wagon train and finally makes it Oklahoma days before the Land Run of 1893.

He chances upon Shannon and her family, who are getting ready to claim their own land. Shannon appears cold toward him, leaving Joseph disappointed. Stephen sees the encounter and threatens Joseph with death if he sees him near her again. It appears Shannon has chosen Stephen.

Our rock beaten Joseph now has no girl to share his land and, unfortunately, no horse for the race. His only options at this late date include a horse ready for the glue factory and one with the spirit of his Shannon -- wild and unattainable. He opts for the aging horse, but alas, the poor thing doesn't make it through the night. This leaves him with the spunky horse, who clearly resents being told what to do.

The race is on, and Joseph chases after Stephen and Shannon, knowing that Stephen has broken the law. They had been told not to search for land before the race, but he has found out that Stephen had done just that. Shannon falls off her horse and Joseph is the first to get to her. Stephen is torn between getting to the land before anyone else or following through on his threat to kill Joseph. He decides to go back for Shannon, not wanting to be bested by the common man. They fight a couple of times as Joseph breaks away to claim his land at Shannon's encouragement. But, Joseph falls, hitting his head on a rock. Shannon rushes to his side, sacrificing her dream (just as Joseph had for her during the boxing match.) She rejects Stephen and stays by Joseph's side as his life slips away.

This would be the ultimate rock, wouldn't you say? After all Joseph has been through, must he now die without any satisfaction? Thankfully, the writer manages a happily ever after despite Joseph dying. He had set it up in that very first scene where his father slipped away, came back to deliver a message, and then slipped away for good. Joseph goes through a similar process, coming back to tell her that the land means nothing to him without her. He dies, and as Shannon mourns, professing her love for him, he is revived, (a scene that would seem contrived if it weren't for the opening scene with his father.)

Together, they grab his flag and plunge it into the ground claiming the land that has taken two and half cinema hours to obtain.

Whew! Throwing rocks is exhausting, but so worth it if it means your readers will keep the book in their hands and lose sleep...possibly their jobs. We can only hope.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

James Scott Bell's Q-Factor

An excellent article on what James Scott Bell calls the Q-Factor (alluding to the James Bond character Q) was just posted today on Novel Journey. Great craft article! Important nugget for any writer. Check it out!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Simple Storyline With Depth

To continue Irish Movie Month, I viewed Once, a simple story about a guy named Guy and a girl with no name. If you watch this movie, beware. It's about a street musician in Dublin and the language reflects that. The opening scene, although funny, uses the f-word in every sentence as two people interact. That is the worse of it, though. I think they did that to set the scene and maybe create a shock factor. The rest of the movie sprinkles in the foul language like dollops of cow patties over an otherwise beautiful field.

The writer/director, John Carney, said in the extras on the DVD, this story was something "you could write on the back of a postage stamp." And it was, literally. Here is what the movie was about. Two people suffering from similar broken relationships help each other heal by encouraging their music interests. This is the elevator pitch. It's also the entire plot.

But the plot, sparse as it is, has a surprising depth. It's actually a musical, with Guy singing in at least 60% of the movie. But with just a few well placed snatches of dialogue, we feel the couple's pain.

Guy is a singer/guitar player/song writer living on tips as he sings on the streets. He also works in his father's vacuum repair shop. Girl is a Czech immigrant who plays the piano in a music store because she doesn't have one of her own. When Girl meets Guy, she immediately recognizes his songs as ones written for a lost love. Guy, a definite loner, doesn't know what to think of this straight-forward woman who speaks her mind.

Girl draws Guy out by letting him see her world. She brings him to the music shop where she plays a classical piece. He immediately sees a kindred soul, and teaches her one of his songs. They play and sing together, bonding a friendship that will last.

Girl finally gets Guy to tell him about his lost love. He tells her in song, and thus "Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy" is written in the back of a bus. He tells her his girl slept with someone else (although, remember the cow patties--he didn't say "slept") and is now living in London.

Girl invites Guy to her flat, where he meets her baby daughter and her mother. Now we know that our Czech girl has a past.

Guy invites Girl to his place where she meets his Da, and Guy, being a...well...a guy, misinterprets Girl's attention asking her to stay the night. Highly offended, she leaves. (You go girl!) It takes some fancy talking the next day to convince her how sorry he is, and the friendship continues.

He tells her he's going to take her advice and go to London to find the woman who still has his heart. Girl is thrilled. But before he goes, he wants to make a music demo to take with him. She helps him rent a studio and agrees to play piano and sing on the CD. They gather a small band of street musicians for backup, and proceed to rehearse.

Girl tells Guy that she's married. No divorce. It didn't work out and she left with her daughter, but she doesn't want her to grow up without a dad. The romantic in me wants these two to get together in a happily ever after, but I don't think it's to be.

The band is finally ready to record and they lay down several tracts. During a break, Girl finds a piano in another room and plays a classical tune. Guy joins her and encourages her to sing something she's written. She starts, but breaks down before it's over. She cries on Guy's shoulder as he makes the observation that the song is about her child's father. She affirms this, but never says what happened between them. This simple act gives her character depth, and confirms that Guy and Girl are on the same path.

A day after the recording is done, Girl tells Guy that she's spoken to her husband. They're going to make it work. Guy calls his lost love in London letting her know he's coming. She sounds happy to hear that. Before he goes, he buys a piano in the music shop and has it delivered to Girl.

The end.

The theme of this story is "healing." And even though it's a simple story about Guy and a girl, their lost loves and their music, it's a story with depth. They both have real pain. They both hide that pain in their music. They both resolve that pain through each other's encouragement.

Can you write a simple story with depth? Sometimes we get so bogged down in the "rules" that we miss the simple story. I encourage you to write that story with heart, make it simple, give it truth.

If you want to hear "Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy" here is a link. Caution: There are a couple of cow patties in this cute stick-figure video that's also included on the DVD.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Man With a Past

What better way to start Irish Month than with the John Ford classic, The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara? Set in Innisfree, Ireland, Sean Thornton, played by the Duke, arrives from America. But Ireland is his birth place, and he wishes to buy the little cottage where he was born.

We learn this in the first few minutes of the movie as Sean tells Michaleen Oge Flynn, a little man with a big job, that they knew each other when Sean was a child. After a few more introductions of the tall stranger, we learn through Father Lonergan that Sean’s grandfather died in a penal colony in Australia, his father was a good man who apparently died in a bad accident, and Sean’s mother died in America when he was twelve. Later, when he talks to the patron of the town -- an old gentleman with a long, white beard -- we find out that he knew the grandfather, and that he was a good man.

Quite a past, but we’re not through yet.

We see Sean in the church, a pensive look on his face, as if he’s reflecting on his past. Afterward, he meets a fiery redhead, Mary Kate Danaher played by O’Hara, and becomes enamored with her. Ah, romance, but that’s not what this article is about. Strange coming from me, but true.

Sean visits the Widow Tillane to buy the land that is now in her possession. He tells her when he was a kid living in a shack near the slag heaps, his mother told him about Innisfree and their home. We get that life was probably rough for the little Irish immigrant and his widowed mother. He further tells her, “When I quit the r…, when I decided to come here…” What was he about to say? What did he quit?

Questions! The author’s best friend. Yes, Sean has a past, but the writer is very careful not to tell everything in the first scene. Watch how Sean’s back story is skillfully woven in.

As we get to know Sean, it becomes very clear that he wants to live in peace, but Squire Will Danaher, Mary Kate’s brother, is a scrapper and angry that Sean has bought the land he’s been wanting. In the pub, Will challenges Sean, who tells him, “I’m not going to fight you, Danaher.” The other men in the pub stop Will from punching him and make the two shake hands. It becomes a power war, however, both men crushing the other’s palm, showing their strength. They’re an even match. Will storms out and two members of the currently nonviolent IRA tag Sean as a “quiet, peace-loving man.”

But is he?

He meets the Reverend and Mrs. Playfair. Upon hearing the name Thornton, the vicar appears to recognize him, but can’t place him. “Thornton. Has a familiar ring to it… Ring to it.”

More questions.

When Sean calls on Mary Kate to ask her brother permission to court her, Will refuses to allow it. Sean has been civil, but through his Yankee ignorance, insults the ritual. Will yells at him to get out of the house by the time he counts to three. Sean, with a dangerously quiet voice, tells him, “If you say three, mister, you’ll never hear the man count ten.”

Ah, is it becoming clearer, now?

Through this sprinkling of dialogue, Sean’s past unrolls like the fog over an emerald meadow. Piece by piece, bit by bit, a theme begins to emerge.

Let’s continue. The priest, the vicar, and his wife, plot to trick Will into giving his blessing for the courting. They tell him the Widow Tillane is interested in him, but wouldn’t think of marrying him with another woman in the house.

It works, and Michaleen chaperones Sean and Mary Kate in his carriage on their first outing together. The couple gets out to walk in front of the carriage, and as they talk, he compliments her bonnet. This reminds her of a few days prior, when he had left her bonnet sitting on the post during a race. This race on horses, I’m thinkin’, was a fun way for couples to get together. A twist on the decorated box lunch in American culture. Mary Kate’s temper flares and she rears back her hand to slap him. Micheleen stops her with a cluck of the tongue. “Is this a courtin’ or a donney brook? Have the good manners not to hit the man until he’s your husband -- and he can hit ya back.” She apologizes and informs Sean that she has a fearful temper. “We Danahers are a fighting people.”

So far, our clues are “ring,” “hear the man count ten,” and “fighting.”

During the wedding reception, Will announces his intentions concerning the Widow Tillane. She embarrasses him by rebuffing him in public. He blows up as a result saying he’d agreed to the marriage under false pretenses. Sean steps into his tirade and Will punches him, knocking him flat. We hear a bell. As Sean lay unconscious, we get inside his head. He’s in a boxing ring, and punches the opposing fighter who goes down hard. The man dies. And now we know why Sean has fled back to his roots, the peaceful Ireland his mother had painted for him. As he comes to, he jumps up as if still in the ring, but Rev. Playfair stops him saying, “Steady, Trooper. Steady.” The vicar knows that Sean is Trooper Thornton, a boxer with a painful past.

From here, we follow Sean’s motives in light of this revelation. His past has dictated his actions thus far, and continues to do so.

The couple move into the cottage, but Mary Kate doesn’t have her furniture that’s been promised to her. Her brother is withholding it in an act of spite. She wants her things about her in her new home, and she wants her fortune, money she’s inherited plus some she’s earned for herself. Sean, in typical male fashion, doesn’t understand this. Can’t he provide for her? They spend their wedding night in separate rooms.

The next day, he presents his gift to her, a small, one horse carriage, and they ride to town. While there, she sees her brother who is in a good mood because he’s just sold some sheep. She demands Sean go get her money while her brother still has it in his pockets. Sean refuses and she calls him a coward. Obviously, she hasn’t been paying attention to the clues. Sean gets out of the carriage, and Mary Kate swings the small whip as if she’s going to hit him. But she takes off instead, leaving him in town with only his feet to get him home.

Sean finds Will in the pub and wants to talk in private. Pig-headed Will refuses, then sneers. “You’re among friends. They’ve done your fighting once, maybe they’ll fight for you again.

Sean says, still controlling his anger, “I’m not asking anyone to do my fighting for me.”

“Oh,” Will continues to taunt him. “So you’re willing to do your own are ya?” He challenges Sean to ask for the dowry, and if he does, he’ll be chewing his teeth for a week. “I’ll fight you with one of my fists in my pocket.”

Sean slaps his hand away and walks out while Will mocks him. “The Fighting Thornton!”

The last thing we see in this scene is Micheleen, sitting on a stoop, thoroughly disappointed in Sean.

Sean retreats to the vicar’s house. He needs to talk to someone who knows about his past. Sean tells him that the man he killed in the ring was a good man with a family. But Sean went into that ring to pound him into the mat -- to murder him. All for a purse, a piece of the gate, and lousy money. The vicar nods. “And now money is behind your troubles with Danaher.” The vicar shares that he knows a little about boxing. He shows Sean a picture of himself, skinny with boxing gloves on. He was the lightweight champion once. Sean now has a broad grin on his face, as if knowing that he has something in common with such a peaceful man has taken the burden of guilt off of his shoulders. The vicar offers him a drink, but then thinks better of it. “You’ll be in training again, of course.”

So now we know all about Sean’s past, and it’s taken three-quarters of the movie to learn it. It’s important as we go into the final act why Sean was afraid to fight Will. Not only did he fear killing him, but the circumstance is similar to why he fled America. Money is the root.

Mary Kate has left Sean, telling Micheleen that she can’t stay with a man she’s ashamed of. This is the final straw. Sean finds her at the train station (where she, by the way, totally believes he’ll come after her and is disappointed when he’s not there right away.) He drags her out of the train and ushers her home, half dragging, half pushing. The entire town follow them, knowing that the long hoped for fight between Sean and Will is about to happen.

Sean finds Will working in his field and pushes Mary Kate to the ground in front of him. He asks for the money. Will refuses. Sean says, “You can take your sister back. Your custom, not mine. No fortune, no marriage.” Will finally comes to his senses and flings the money at Sean. He picks it up, and Mary Kate runs to a large furnace where the men were working, opens the door and allows Sean to toss the money into the incinerator.

This completes her character arc. The money was the only thing driving her, and now, she realizes that her husband means more to her than the money ever did.

The two start to stroll away, but Will isn’t finished yet. He swings at Sean, who ducks and lands a fist into Will’s stomach. Mary Kate looks at her husband with pride and says she’s going home, and she’ll have supper ready for him. Then she walks into the crowd, head held high.

Will attacks Sean again. And now, it’s on! The two men begin to pummel each other, sparking an all out brawl with the surrounding townspeople. Micheleen stops it by shooting his starter pistol into the air. “This is a private fight. The Marquis of Queensbury rules will apply.” All agree civilly, and the two men continue to beat each other to a pulp.

Delightful symbolic scenes follow while the two are fighting. The police, who should break up the fight, have called their commissioner to get advice. He tells them to put money on Danaher. Father Lanergan’s protégé comes to him while he’s fishing, fighting the big one that always gets away. The younger man tells him there’s a big fight in town. Father Lanergan tells him he must stop it, it’s his duty. But when the priest finds out it’s Sean and Will who are fighting, he throws down his pole and the two watch from around a rock wall. Meanwhile, the vicar and his boss, who has arrived to see if the vicar’s congregation is big enough to keep him on there, watch the fight through binoculars.

Sean and Will battle their differences and become best drinking buddies. Sean has conquered his past.

In a final symbolic scene, the vicar (Protestant) drives his boss through town and the Catholics cheer, pretending to be protestants so he won’t lose his job there. In the typical Irish village, Catholics far outweigh Protestants.

A word about the symbolism. The running theme of this piece is “fighting.“ The writer used the following to get that point across, thus deepening Sean Thornton’s angst against it.


  • The IRA, not exactly known for its peace talks.
  • Catholics and Protestants, not only getting along, but helping each other in need.
  • The Vicar’s name, Playfair. I didn’t get that until I looked over my notes. Cool.
  • A scene where bickering friends at the train station start rolling their sleeves, but it’s done so civilly, it’s comical.
  • Father Lonergan fighting the fish. If you watch the movie, there are a couple of scenes where he is obsessed with this fish. When the younger priest goes to him about the fight, he says he's in a fight himself, with the fish.
  • Marquis of Queesbury rules (a civilized way to fight.)

And now we all know how to weave in back story. We create questions, leaving clues in the dialogue and in symbolism. Now, stop playin’ patty fingers and get to it!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

So, What Happened to Romance?

Or, more specifically, what happened to romance month? My main computer crashed, and while I have a laptop, it runs reeeaaaallll slow. Besides the fact that our local group didn't get to watch the main feature presentation due to everyone being busy. Our groups usually host 4-10 people, so for EVERYONE to cancel, I felt maybe the Lord was trying to tell me something. For whatever reason, it just wasn't to be. We will do Ever After at a later time. Everyone I've talked to either said they love the movie or they haven't seen it but always wanted to. So I'd still love to do that one in a group. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, please read the Coming Attractions above. In honor of my Irish/Hungarian hubby, and the fact that I have some Emerald Isle in my blood, we will be doing Irish movies this month.

Okay, is anyone else singing in their head "I'll Go Home With Bonnie Jean" from Brigadoon?