Being an adaption of a book, and even more than that a classic, and even more than that a classic book that has been successfully adapted for the screen more than once; there is added pressure on the writer to both be faithful to the original material and to craft a good screenplay.
Parasite, written by director Bong Joon Ho with Han Jin Won, instantly sets up the social standing of the lead characters by setting the opening scene of the film in their “semi-basement home”. In Korea this is an immediate indication that they are poor, although there is some hope because they are not totally underground.
By the time JOKER reached the screen, director Todd Phillips had rearranged the opening scenes and they were no longer in the same sequence as they were in his original screenplay. He also interestingly added an opening scene that is not in the screenplay at all.
This is the second in a series where I look at the opening sequences of Oscar nominated screenplays and point out some of the tools used by the writers, and highlight why they are considered to be exceptional. Oscar Wilde said; “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and so when something works it works… and is worth …
We’ve all heard that the first ten pages of a script are crucial in terms of persuading the reader to keep reading. Each one of these screenplays achieve that in different ways, but they all have a very important point in common; they introduce us to the main character and they set up the world (and genre) in which that character lives. Each one also manages to introduce additional information that will be important going forward.