Writing a Screenplay: Constant Gardener (2005) Deconstructed

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From our deconstruction of hundreds of Hollywood blockbusters at www.clickok.co.uk/

The Hero’s Journey is the template upon which the vast majority of successful stories and Hollywood blockbusters are based upon. In fact, ALL of the Hollywood movies we have deconstructed are based on this template.

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Understanding this template is a priority for story or screenwriters.

The Hero’s Journey:

a) Attempts to tap into unconscious expectations the audience has regarding what a story is and how it should be told.

b) Gives the writer more structural elements than simply three or four acts, plot points, mid point and so on.

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c) Interpreted metaphorically, laterally and symbolically, allows an infinite number of varied stories to be created.

and more…

Sample Movie Deconstructed: Constant Gardener (2005)

[complex structure: lots of repetitions of Hero's Journey elements and many antagonists to deal with].

FADE IN: the antagonism: Tessa and Arnold are murdered.

Meeting the Shape Shifter: Sandy.

Herald (Shape Shifter) brings Call to Adventure to the Hero: Sandy tells Justin Tessa and Arnold are dead.

Flashback: Polarization of Hero and Romantic Challenge: Tessa heckling Justin.

Resisting the First Threshold: Justin hesitant to go into Tessa’s apartment.

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First Threshold: Justin and Tessa in bed.

Inner Cave: Justin identifies Tessa’s body.

Physical Separation: Tessa asks to be taken to Africa.

The Creatures of the World of the Transformation: Africa and the performance.

Magical Gift: Tessa gets the baby present.

Meeting the Supernatural Aid / Mentor: Arnold.

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Mentor leads deeper into the Journey: Arnold leads Tessa and gives the sick lady some medicine. Aids referenced.

Mentor guides: Arnold fusses over Tessa.

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Trial 1: Tessa gets the email message; Justin tests her about Nairobi Hotel.

Meeting the Antagonist: Bernard Pellegrin, Dr Joshua Ngaba and Kenneth Curtis et al at the party.

Warnings: Justin wants Tessa to stay at home, at least until the bay is born.

Trial 2: Tessa argues with Dr Joshua Ngaba et al.

Warnings: Sandy tells Justin to control Tessa.

Shape Shifter attempts to conquer Hero’s Romantic Challenge: Sandy hits on Tessa.

Trial 3: Arnold tells Tess that the Africans are only given medicines if they agree to be guinea pigs.

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Establishing the Journey to the Sword: Tessa loses the baby; asks Sandy if he will push the information she and Arnold will retrieve.

Foreshadow of ACT III: Justin and Tessa see Lorbeer.

Pulled Back: Justin has to think of Tess first; they go back to England.

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Reminder of the Inner Challenge: Tessa erupts over the pesticide; Arnold tells Justin he has to trust Tessa.

Inner Challenge: Justin checking up on Tessa (who’s she conversing with on the video link).

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Romantic Challenge: Justin wants Tessa and Arnold to stop whatever they’re doing.

Shape Shifter in league with the Antagonist: Sandy talking to Kenny over the phone.

Seizing the Sword: Tessa gets the letter off Sandy.

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Rebirth through Death: Tessa murdered at Loki; the police and news reports.

Reward: Justin finds Sandy’s letter to Tessa.

Resistance to Losing the Old Self: Justin doesn’t allow them to pour concrete; nothing can grow in concrete.

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Pulled toward the Apotheosis: the child leaves a card at Tessa’s grave.

Atonement with the Father; conquering the Romantic Challenge: Ghita tells Justin that Arnold was gay.

Resistance to the Apotheosis: no records in the hospital.

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Apotheosis: Justin discovers that the Africans are being used as guinea pigs.

Refusal of the Return: Justin refuses to not get involved now;; knows Sandy is lying; asks Ghita what is going on.

Developing the Antagonist: we meet Kenny Curtiss playing golf.

Hero’s character change: Justin confronts Kenny.

Magic Flight: Justin forced home.

Obstacle to the Rescue: Justin’s passport taken away.

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Threshold Guardian: the doorman at the club.

Rescue from Without: we meet Bernard Pellegrin in London; Justin realises there is another letter; meeting Tess’ cousin, breaking into her files; memories.

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Crossing the Return Threshold: Justin travels to Germany to meet Birgit; he has to finish what she started; “welcome to my World;” Justin in changed clothing. Conquering his Inner Challenge: admitting that he lost his faith in her.

Shape Shifter turns: Sandy against Justin now that he has escaped with a false passport.

Pushed towards the Final Conflict: Meeting with Birgit; she tells him to go back to Africa.

Foreshadow of the Freedom to Live: Sandy goes over how the Dr was tortured; Allies challenge overcome: Ghita stands up to Sandy.

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Travelling to the Final Conflict: beginning in Kenya.

Master of Two Worlds: Confronting the Shape Shifter (Sandy); Shape Shifter reveals himself.

Confronting the Antagonist 1: Kenny:’s bankrupt. Foreshadow of the Freedom to Live: Kenny shows Justin Tessa’s grave. Foreshadow of the downfall of antagonist 3: Kenny wants Pellegrin’s head.

Confronting Antagonist 2: confronting Donahue. Warnings about the Final Confrontation: Donahue tells Justin how the Dr was crucified.

Danger travelling to the Place of the Final Confrontation: Justin goes to see Lorbeer.

Time Pressure: the hunters arrive.

Inner Challenge overcome: “but this is one we can save?”

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Freedom to Live: Justin allows himself to be butchered.

Learn more?

The Complete 188 stage Hero’s Journey and other story structure templates can be found at http://www.clickok.co.uk/

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Kal Bishop, MBA


You are free to reproduce this article as long as no changes are made and the author’s name and site URL are retained.

Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. His specialities include Knowledge Management and Creativity and Innovation Management. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached at http://www.clickok.co.uk/

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