Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Secretary (screenplay book)

I apologize for the bad picture quality
The screenplay book for the 2002 film Secretary is a book that features the actual screenplay used for the film that was written by Erin Cressida Wilson plus additional text relating to the film along with an excerpt of the original short story Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill. The book also includes photos and an interview with its director Steven Shainberg about the film. The result is a must-have book for fans of the film.

The screenplay itself does following along with what the story appears in the final version of the film. The major differences is that there’s more scenes, a few more key characters, and different presentation of certain scenes. Among them is the way the film opens which is presented in the way the film has ended. There’s more scenes of cutting early in the story along with more moments such a montage of job interviews where the Lee Holloway character states her famed line “I want to be bored”. It’s among one of several things that don’t work which got changed in the final version of the film.

Certain characters such as Lee’s sister, a friend of Lee’s sister in the arty Allison, and Lee’s brother-in-law are given more exposure although it often strays too much from the main narrative. Particularly late in the story as the marriage of Lee’s sister and her husband unravels which was unnecessary as it was wisely cut from the final version. The character of Allison, which was only shown briefly in the final film, represents a character who befriends Lee though it suggests that Allison wants to be more than just Lee’s friend. It’s an interesting character but it feels out of place with the rest of the film itself. Then there’s Mr. E. Edward Grey where the script doesn’t reveal anything new about him that was already known in the final film. While the actual script is an interesting read, it does pale in comparison to what is shown in its final inception for the film.

The additional material in the book includes a foreword from Molly Haskel about the film’s approach to feminism and exploring the psychological aspects of the film in relation to its main characters. Screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson’s introduction has talking about her own sexual experiences as well as her love for sadomasochism. Notably as she recalls meeting people who do have secret fetishes as she hoped that the film will get people to come out on their sexual fetishes. Steven Shainberg’s interview has him talking about some of the cinematic influences he used for the film as well as his approach to telling the emotional portions of the story. Shainberg also revealed that he made a short based on the film back in 1990.

The book also features shooting maps on the film where the camera is placed and such along with ideas for compositions. These diagrams give a great insight for aspiring filmmakers about how to present a scene such as Lee’s first meeting with Mr. Grey. The book features various photos presented in the script including a few making of shots and glossy colored photos in the book. Finally, there’s the excerpt of Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior where it reveals the key scene of a secretary’s angry boss becoming frustrated with her as he spanks her next day. Though the original story was more downbeat than the final film presented, the excerpt is still an interesting read of where Shainberg and Wilson got their idea to create the film.

The screenplay book for Secretary is a definite buy for fans of the film as well as those who aspire to be in the world of film. While the actual script does have its flaws that were fixed for its final product. It does show insight of how that script was shaped and how it involved to the final version that is presented on film. In the end, the screenplay book for Secretary is a superb book from the film’s creator.

Related Reviews: Secretary - (Secretary OST) - (Favorite Films #5: Secretary)

© thevoid99 2012

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