The last two weeks, I have been consumed by the task of writing a screenplay for a short film that has been percolating/eating at me/distracting me since the late fall. ( You do the math.) I’m thinking of posting either an in-process or a finished version of the script here soon; we’ll see. Shooting should take only about three days.
The format a short film takes–as dictated by various film festival submission requirements and a group called The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences— is proving to be at once constraining and liberating, maybe like writing a sonnet or something. There’s enough structure to give ready shape to the ideas and story I’ve got in my mind.
The movie is set in France (thus my last post about rental cars in France), and explores the lives and views of people living in the aftermath of World War I. It specifically looks at the Battle of the Somme, which was one of the most devastating, prolonged, and–in some ways–pointless acts of violence in the century.
At the time (starting in 1916), it was extremely difficult for people to adequately comprehend the scale of the killing that took place, and it was supposed that nothing could surpass it. Such views were, of course, proven wrong in WWII and since.
While The Somme lives on in metaphor and has specifically been invoked to describe Ground Zero and the killings of September 11, I think the contemporary view is quite removed from the experiences and perspectives that prevailed “in the wake” of 1916.
Hellfire Corner is a tremendous source of current and historical information about The Great War, which still seems to resonate in the UK far more than in the US (as far as I’ve seen, anyway). When I was visiting the UK for some friends’ art opening last October, I saw many Londoners wearing the Flanders Poppy on their lapels, a sign of remembrance for those lost in battle that seems to proliferate in the Armistice Day/Veteran’s Day season.
It’s odd and unexpected how this writing and pre-prod process is having such a cathartic, mind-clearing effect on my other, “main” project. Like gauging and mapping out a boulder that has been blocking the (clear, I thought) path.