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Posts Tagged ‘Casablanca’

According to Syd Field’s book Screenplay, it is on page 25 that the first Plot Point should occur. And he’s right. It works. Here’s a few examples of page 25 moments through movie history…

CASABLANCA, min. 25: Ilsa and Victor Laszlo enter Rick’s bar for the first time. Up until this point, Rick has continually pointed out to others that he sticks his neck out for no one — his goal is to merely stay out of trouble. He seems unfazed by others, be they Nazi Majors, Police Captains or beautiful women. But when Ilsa and Rick’s eyes lock at min 25, we know the stakes have been raised — he might stick his neck out for this one. This Plot Point ushers us into ACT II, where he will cease merely existing and CHOOSE to seduce Ilsa away from Victor — he’ll stick his neck out now, but only to pursue selfish desires. The second Plot Point, at the start of ACT III, will be the moment Rick springs his plan to get Ilsa and Victor onto a plane into action and he becomes the opposite of what he was at the beginning. Not only has he been reborn as a man who will stick his neck out, he’ll stick it out for a cause bigger than himself or Ilsa.

Minute 25
Minute 25

SOME LIKE IT HOT, min 25:  We learn of Joe and Jerry’s choice to flee town with the all-women band by cutting to them, in drag, on the train platform. Up to that point, they’d been exhausting every other option to avoid being rubbed-out by the mob.  With nothing left to lose, they CHOOSE to leave Chicago, and their dignity, behind. It’s also at minute 25 that we first see Marilyn Monroe as she boards the train, and the camera gives her a head-to-toe goings-over that lets us know, in the language of cinema, that her intellect is respected above all else.

SomeLikeItHot2
Minute 25

THE GRADUATE, min 25:  Ben calls Mrs. Robinson and invites her to a hotel. Back at minute 12, she had tried to seduce him (in a scene you may have seen referenced several thousand times). But he resists her smokey, smokey charms because…well…it would turn future, family dinners into etiquette nightmares. But then her gin-soaked husband lectures Ben about making the most of his youth — playing the field, and so on — and his parents throw him the world’s lamest, birthday, pool-party. Seeing the adults around him trapped in a lifestyle he’s not eager to embrace, he CHOOSES to call Mrs. Robinson at minute 25 as a way of procrastinating his own perceived decent into his parent’s stolid existence (see: dictionary definition of “passive-aggressive”).

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MORE EXAMPLES…

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, min 25:  Indiana Jones walks into Marion’s bar, gaining the world’s worst sidekick and the bronze medallion that leads him to the Ark. But first they have a Casablanca moment with the genders reversed — he left her and now she’s the drunk with a bar — “Of all the Mongolian gin joints in the world, he had to walk into mine.”Raiders_of_the_Lost_Ark_1

GROUNDHOG DAY, min 25: Phil wakes-up to “I Got You Babe” for the third time. He’s already lived the same day over again once, but at minute 25, he realizes this problem isn’t going away. He CHOOSES to stop going through the motions and actively changes his behavior. He refuses to cover Punxsuntawney Phil and begins his journey of…doing stuff without consequences…

groundhogday-d

On page 25, your character should make a CHOICE that changes the direction of the story and sends it on an irreversible journey towards the film’s climax. Some films have this moment happen at minute 27 or 29, and that’s fine. But in your script, discipline yourself and make Readers, Agents and Producers know you’ve got a handle on your story by sticking Plot Point One on good ol’ 25.

Thanks for reading. Tune in tomorrow for another tip from Screenplay that I’ll be discussing. And feel free to leave your own thoughts in the “Comments” section!

— Benjamin

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