Stories about Stories

Joseph Campbell and the well-known psychologist Carl Jung, both posited that stories were a way for human beings to ascribe meaning to the infinite chaos of creation around them. These stories provide a framework for the experience of being alive, and establish patterns that make processing an incredible amount of information easier, by giving the illusion of cause and effect. Films are a particularly effective method for creating a reality because that’s exactly what the crew of a film does on some level. When an audience sees rundown buildings overgrown with vines besieged by zombies, what they are actually seeing is the painstaking work of teams of artists who transform locations into the fantastic sets used in movies. Some films take this alternate reality even further and incorporate the idea of story telling into their own narrative. These meta stories are some of the most interesting and powerful stories, because they point out the assumptions an audience carries with them from other viewing experiences and uses them not only to comment on and interpret the human experience, but also to comment on stories themselves.

Big Fish written by John August and directed by Tim Burton, is a fantastic example of a script that discusses the power of stories, in this case, the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is a meta narrative that Joseph Campbell believed to be the backbone of nearly every story ever written. To illustrate the prominence of this structure, consider the similarities between the characters of Luke Skywalker, Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, Hercules, and Iron Man. All of these characters are told they have the capacity for greatness, are forced to act on that possibility, and subsequently rise to the challenge, becoming heroes and experiencing some sort of catharsis. Big Fish not only features an on-the-nose hero’s journey, it features a character actually commenting on the tropes and the reason for them as he recounts the story. Not all stories about stories are as somber as Big Fish though. 

Joss Whedon is an incredibly prolific writer, and a devout fan of story craft in general. The Avengers features multiple mini hero’s journeys throughout. There are however, other meta narratives besides hero’s journey. The Cabin in the Woods is a fan boy’s salute to the horror genre, but the horror genre is really a medieval story form repackaged and twisted slightly. In Shakespeare’s England the most common form of entertainment was a fantastically depressing genre called the morality play. These morality plays were basically stories like the boy who cried wolf, or the frog and the scorpion. The basic idea is that the sins and faults of a character early on in the narrative will be responsible for their undoing later on. The Cabin in the Woods gleefully embraces, not only its monster movie heritage, but rather brilliantly, its morality play ancestors, and  features a wonderful Richard Jenkins character explaining the significance of each story beat as it happens. 

There are dozens of examples of this kind of thing. Before Cabin in the Woods there was  Scream. The Princess Bride comments on two kinds of stories: romance and fantasy and again features a narrator within the story. Tropic Thunder is a send-up of Hollywood in general, but especially Vietnam era war movies, and the list goes on and on all they way to The Producers. These stories serve as mile markers for genre, and for the film medium, but they also function as challenges to filmmakers to transcend traditional story structure and tropes and try to make something new. Any filmmaker or writer who seeks to educate themselves about the finer points of movie making would do well to add these to his or her collection.

(2003) Big Fish

(1987) The Princess Bride

(2012) The Cabin in the Woods

(1996) Scream

(2008) Tropic Thunder

(2008) Be Kind Rewind

(2002) Adaptation

Meryl Streep Scripts

merylstreep-oscarMeryl Streep has a career of over 40 years and is considered by many one of the greats. She has been nominated for an oscar 17 times and won 3 times. The following is her filmography and links to scripts when available

 

 

 

  1. (1977) Julia Script
  2. (1978) The Deer Hunter Script
  3. (1979) Manhattan Script
  4. (1979) The Seduction of Joe Tynan
  5. (1979) Kramer vs. Kramer Script
  6. (1981) The French Lieutenant’s Woman Script
  7. (1982) Still of the Night
  8. (1982) Sophie’s Choice
  9. (1983) Silkwood Script
  10. (1984) Falling in Love
  11. (1985) Plenty
  12. (1985) Out of Africa Script
  13. (1986) Heartburn Script
  14. (1987) Ironweed
  15. (1988) A Cry in the Dark
  16. (1989) She-Devil
  17. (1990) Postcards from the Edge
  18. (1991) Defending Your Life
  19. (1991) Age 7 in America
  20. (1992) Death Becomes Her Script
  21. (1993) The House of the Spirits
  22. (1994) The River Wild
  23. (1995) The Bridges of Madison County Script
  24. (1996) Before and After
  25. (1996) Marvin’s Room
  26. (1998) Dancing at Lughnasa
  27. (1998) One True Thing
  28. (1999) Music of the Heart Script
  29. (2001) A.I. Artificial Intelligence Script
  30. (2002) Adaptation Script
  31. (2002) The Hours Script
  32. (2003) Stuck on You
  33. (2004) The Manchurian Candidate Script
  34. (2004) Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
  35. (2005) Prime
  36. (2006) A Prairie Home Companion
  37. (2006) The Music of Regret
  38. (2006) The Devil Wears Prada Script
  39. (2006) The Ant Bully Script
  40. (2007) Dark Matter
  41. (2007) Evening
  42. (2007) Rendition
  43. (2007) Lions for Lambs
  44. (2008) Mamma Mia!
  45. (2008) Doubt Script
  46. (2009) Julie & Julia Script
  47. (2009) Fantastic Mr. Fox Script
  48. (2009) It’s Complicated Script
  49. (2010) Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life
  50. (2011) The Iron Lady Script
  51. (2012) Hope Springs
  52. (2013) August: Osage County

 

Adaptation

Year:2002
Director:Spike Jonze
Written by:Charlie Kaufman (Screenplay), Susan Orlean (Novel), Donald Kaufman (Screenplay)

Script Synopsis:A love-lorn script writer grows increasingly desperate in his quest to adapt the book 'The Orchid Thief'.
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Spike Jonze Movie Scripts

Despite the modest collection of feature-length movies under his belt, Spike Jonze may very well be one of the most exciting directors working in the film industry today. Having made his career out of a handful of out-of-the-box music videos, he managed to make a name for himself after teaming up with critically acclaimed screenwriter Charlie Kaufman.

With news of a new film from Jonze and Kaufman recently hitting the internet, it looks like Spike Jonze is far from done with his feature film making career.

Check out a compiled list of the feature length directorial efforts to see just how well he translates them unto the screen:

1. Where the Wild Things Are Script (PDF Download) (2009)
https://scripts-onscreen.com/amazon?q=spike Jonze