This was a very fascinating tale and I found myself engrossed from beginning to end. There was a resurgence of interest in Guy Fawkes thanks to the 2005 release of “V for Vendetta”, so I could see many people being interested in watching a movie on this topic.
Page 1: “MAIN TITLES BEGIN”: This is a spec script, so you can drop this.
Page 1: “…wiping his brow and looking around him with a contented air.” - It is acceptable to use the present progressive tense if it is the best way to demonstrate continuous action in a scene. In this case, the man is performing two brief actions so best to write it as ‘wipes his brow and looks around him…’ Another example of this is on page four: “Erupting, he kicks a chair into a table, scattering its contents. Grabbing a vase…”
Page 1: “…a handsome young man in smart clothing…” – Most people will not know what typifies late sixteenth century smart clothing. It would better to paint us a picture and detail a couple items (EX – a loose Mandilion pullover jacket, gathered hat and cloak).
Page 1: “…a generosity and kindness in his presence.” – This doesn’t really say anything about him and would be impossible to show on the big screen.
Page 7: RE: conversation between Catesby and Garnett: It would help if you made the dialogue more specific about what the actual crisis Catesby feels they are facing. There needs to be clarification about who Devereux and Cecil represent in this power struggle. Page 10: Dying man: “Cecil will seize the power we sought.” – Is this a religious or political rebellion or both? Catesby: “Do you think even half the men with the Earl are there for him?” – There are two Earls, so best to use either Devereux or Cecil’s last names when referencing them. Also, it would be more consistent to refer to Devereux by his proper name (as you do with Cecil) rather then by a portion of his title (i.e. Essex).
Page 8: INT. WALKWAY: This scene heading is confusing. It appears that Father Garnett, the guard and Cecil are together. A V.O. needs to be added to Garnett’s dialogue to indicate a segue into the new scene.
Page 10: Catesby: “Essex’s end is our beginning my friend.” - Depending on how this line were delivered, it could be taken several ways. It is clear that Catesby sides with Devereux, so this abrupt upswing in mood is not credible. He needs some time to process their defeat before moving forward with new plans.
Page 20: Wintour: “…you are but a ghost to those who would look for you…What better way to attack…” – This scene is very good, with strong dialogue between Wintour and Fawkes. Their goals are defined and now we have a clear indication of what is at stake and the means by which Catesby will attempt to achieve his goal.
Page 22: Catesby: “…this isn’t toleration, it’s smoke and mirrors.” – Catesby speaks much about the intolerance toward Catholics: Show examples of this so we can truly understand the significance of their situation and what they suffered through.
Page 27: Garnett: “…you’re using her memory as an excuse.” - Good job of tying Catesby’s wife’s death into the story and adding another dimension to his motivation for utilizing violence to achieve his goal.
Page 31: Nice transition from Act I - the hanging of Watson and Catesby’s decision to press on - and Act II - Fawkes’ ocean voyage home.
Page 48: Percy is appointed a Gentleman Pensioner, one of the King’s personal protectors. This is clearly a very advantageous position for carrying out Catesby’s plan, but there is no indication of why Percy was selected for this position, other than pure coincidence.
Page 114: The scenes of the conspirators’ executions needs to be turned into one short scene and tightened up – it’s not necessary for each of them to give a farewell address before being hung.
Page 119: This confessional scene between Catesby and Garnett is not needed and should be cut.
All in all, a well-written piece and with a few changes would make an entertaining movie.
Review of: By God or the Devil
reviewed by RJWIII on 01/09/2010
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