I also had the chance to read the screenplay for the film Awakenings written by Steven Zaillian.
Throughout the screenplay I grew more and more frustrated with the formatting. I think someone needs to check out the Hollywood Standard
In addition to the formatting some scenes were omitted which made reading somewhat challenging. However, the description of locations, characters, and actions I particularly liked. Here are some examples.
Pg. 11 – “Distant music of children’s laughter. Perhaps real, emanating from outside; perhaps imagined, remembered, playing in a remote region of the woman’s damaged mind. Arrested of all movement, she stares, transfixed at the blades of a fan.”
I think this description although not exact and detail oriented, such as what color she is wearing gives a lot of information and definitely creates an image in the mind of the reader.
Pg. 11 – “No change of expression on her mask of a face. She is elsewhere (or nowhere), cut adrift by her illness, living in a private world. (or hell)”
Description sets the tone and the situation for scene.
Another aspect of this screenplay I really enjoyed were the eccentric characters. The patients gave energy to a mundane location.
Pg. 47 – “She ponders that and the enormity of the whole situation, all the while staring at the consent form.”
Explains that this is a big decision, without saying…this is a huge decision.
Pg. 100 – Kaufman to Leonard, “You’re free to go for a walk.” Leonard’s response, “I am?”
This dialog really struck me, and is coupled with a powerful line farther down the page. Leonard to Sayer, “You didn’t wake a thing, you woke a person. I’m a person.”
This dialog really made me think about the rights these patients have. I loved this screenplay and enjoyed it far more than the movie. I don’t think Robin Williams was a good pick for the role, because I think he is too comedic. While reading the screenplay I got the impression that Sayer was less comedic and more serious and tentative.
Overall, what I loved about this screenplay was its message of compassion for others. Perhaps, we should do as the age old saying suggests, “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” in order to truly understand them.