“Something’s way off, all over the country…” Netflix has revealed a trailer for the documentary Saving Capitalism, based on Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich’s book of the same name. His book attempts to provide a more focused concept of how America save itself, fix its economy, and maintain capitalism as the financial system of the country. “As income and wealth go to the top, more Americans are left behind. Now it’s up to those ordinary Americans to change the rules.” This seems like one of those nice economics documentaries, kind of like Freakonomics, that attempts to take the big ideas and present them in a way that’s understandable and digestible. I’m honestly not fully supportive of the idea of “saving capitalism”, but I do support Netflix docs, so I’m featuring this anyway. It’s always good to hear all the different arguments. ›››
Every time Trump deletes a typo-filled tweet, a kitten dies.
But at least the White House is keeping a record of those deleted tweets.
David S. Ferriero, head of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), sent a letter to Democratic senators Tom Carper (DE) and Claire McCaskill (MO) last week in response to a note that the pair had sent to Defense Secretary James Mattis in February about the security of President Trump’s phone and the proper archiving of Trump’s many, many tweets.
According to this video, these are the real unsung heroes of cinema.
There are so many individuals that contribute immensely to the art and craft of filmmaking, from makeup artists to producers. However, there are those that work behind the scenes to ensure that films, both new and old, last long after the celluloid on which they were captured fades and decays, those that The Royal Ocean Film Society call the true unsung heroes of cinema. In this video, learn about the vital work that has been done and continues to be done to restore and preserve some of the most important films in cinematic history.
Film restoration may not be the sexiest topic when it comes to cinema, but it is an important one. Could you imagine films like The Shawshank Redemption, The Red Shoes, Pulp Fiction, or The Godfather being lost to posterity, never to ever be seen in its original quality or, even worse, at all because someone improperly stored the original copy? It may seem unimaginable, but this has happened countless times before to other films.
It’s not the beach scene. Or the “Earn this” scene. It’s another one.
Let’s face it: In a fundamental way, screenwriting is scene-writing, so the more we learn about this aspect of the craft, the better.
Today’s Great Scene comes from Saving Private Ryan, the 1998 movie written by Robert Rodat. Via IMDb:
Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.
I could have chosen some big action scenes like the assault on Omaha Beach or the final battle. Instead I selected a scene dominated by a monologue by one character: Captain Miller (Tom Hanks). An unlikely candidate for a great scene, especially since the monologue is comprised mostly of exposition, not the most cinematic of narrative elements. But watch this scene and tell me it isn’t a powerful moment.
Background: No one in Miller’s squadron knows what Miller’s personal story is, specifically what he does for a living as a civilian. Indeed, the men have been making bets on various possibilities. Here in the midst of the war, another ‘war’ has broken out between the men, guns drawn, violence threatening. Then Miller speaks:
Here is the dialogue:
I’m a schoolteacher. I teach English composition… in this little town called Adley, Pennsylvania. The last eleven years, I’ve been at Thomas Alva Edison High School. I was a coach of the baseball team in the springtime. Back home, I tell people what I do for a living and they think well, now that figures. But over here, it’s a big, a big mystery. So, I guess I’ve changed some. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve changed so much my wife is even going to recognize me, whenever it is that I get back to her. And how I’ll ever be able to tell her about days like today. Ah, Ryan. I don’t know anything about Ryan. I don’t care. The man means nothing to me. It’s just a name. But if… if going to Rumelle and finding him so that he can go home. If that earns me the right to get back to my wife, then that’s my mission.
Why is this such an effective moment? In the External World, Miller finally answers the mystery of his job by revealing he is a schoolteacher. But that’s just the text. The subtext works on multiple levels:
* The contrast between schoolteacher and leader of a squadron in this hellhole of a war surprises, even stuns the men. How could an English teacher have survived this long and led his men through battle after battle?
* The revelation personalizes Miller to the others and in doing so reminds the men that each of them is an individual with their own unique personal history, each of them is a human being, not just a warrior.
* Finally, Miller alters their goal — saving Private Ryan — a task none of the men really understands or wants to do into something they can embrace: Do it, then go back home.
In a visual medium like film, we are told to “show it, don’t say it.” And that is by and large true. However, sometimes the power of words trumps image. What we learn here is that dialogue becomes imbued with such power when the words are grounded in character, how a revelation emerging from the most basic and honest aspects of an individual’s humanity can have a transformational effect on others.
What do you think of this scene? What is your interpretation of how it works? Why is it a Great Scene? Head to comments and let me know what you think.
To read all of the entries in the Great Scene archive, go here.
If you have an idea for this Great Scene series, check out the responses people have made so far here. If you have a different scene in mind you think would be worthy of analysis, please post it there or in comments for this post. Thanks!