Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 21: You Can Leave Your Hat On

As you can see from the photograph, hats and I have an uncomfortable relationship. It seems to me that people fall into one of two camps: those that suit a hat and those that do not. Despite many efforts to break out of the latter group, over the years, I have always failed stupendously. As My father was wont to say: “act like a twat, wear a funny hat”. You can see where I got my penmanship skills from, eh?

Note: the dictionary offers two definitions under “twat”: I am calling on the one that reads “a person regarded as stupid or obnoxious.”

Who can forget the delicious, climactic hats moment from that great film The Full Monty? Gazza, Lomper, Gerald and the others, naked as the day they were Yorkshire-born apart from fake security guard hats covering their modesty? In front of them, an audience of baying women that includes their girlfriends, wives and neighbours. Swaying to Tom Jones’s version of the song, whose lyric captions this piece, it's the final moment of the film, when they have to summon up the courage to cast off those hats and reveal the most intimate parts of themselves to the whooping throng. Glory be!! Who could forget it?

Writer Simon Beaufoy was the architect of that moment ( I will talk another day about the Masterclass that I had with him) and it is not just a moment of laughter, hilarity and the like, it is a moment that encapsulates, in one visual bite, what the story, the film, The Full Monty is all about.

My copy of The Full Monty screenplay is dated March 1996, so you can bet that Simon Beaufoy would have conceived this story back in the early 90’s, before Baroness Thatcher had departed the governmental scene, having laid waste to much of England’s industrial North, just like the steel city of Sheffield where this story is set.

A group of unemployed men, feeling emasculated by their inability to earn money, set about becoming strippers for one night only à la The Chipperfields. Each of the men has a problem sharing intimacies with someone close to them: Gaz (Robert Carlyle) has difficulties with his young son Nathan, who is living with his mum and the new man in her life. Gaz’s overweight best mate Dave, would rather his wife think that he were having an affair than confess that he’s embarrassed about his weight. Middle-aged Gerald, pretends to his wife that he has a job to go to everyday, preferring the ruse over the confession that he has been made redundant. Their are others too, but you get the point.

What the film is about, is these men recovering their sense of self-worth by going ahead with the plan, to strip, as a group, for money. What the film is really about is how, in the process of shedding their clothes and their inhibitions, putting together this show, they each get to reveal the most personal, private and hidden emotional parts of themselves to those most important to them: the wives, sons and significant others.

The Full Monty is a triumph and that final hip-swaying, arse-baring scene is the triumph of all triumphs in this film. With one flick of the wrist, the hats go flying and their freedom to reveal the most physically intimate parts of themselves - the most appropriate of metaphors - is now complete, for the hard yards, the literal revelations, and the courage required to uncloak those has already been done.

Day #21 Tip: A Value And A Cause
The VALUE that comes into the world of Gazza, Gerald, Dave and Lomper at the Climax of The Full Monty is arguably self-worth or self-esteem. The CAUSE or reason for this coming into their lives (because it wasn’t there at the start of the story) is the courage to share the most intimate parts of themselves with those closest to them, come what may.

This is an idea that resonates throughout the film, vibrating through every scene and every moment: characters revealing or hiding the most private and personal parts of themselves. Don’t believe me? Then get the film out on DVD, download the script and do the homework.

This governing body of a “value” and a “cause”, I have to stress again, is not my creation. I’m just interpreting the how and the why of what Robert Mckee came up with and trying to show you how I see it at work in films I know and scripts of my own.

The Controlling Idea is a litmus test for every scene in my film. I must dip this “litmus paper” of a governing or controlling idea into every potential scene in my script and see whether that moment has something to do with the idea or not. If not, why not...maybe it’s script puffery, “frothy, emotional appeal”, pretty pictures or film fat. If so, I need to get to work on it, cut it, scalpel it out, it’s dole-bludging on my scenes of storytelling muscle and sinew that are working their arses off.

If the guys in The Full Monty can earn their keep, so can every word and every moment in my screenplay.

1 comment:

  1. greatly enjoying the many faces and unfolding revelations of rog... love the silly hat fxx