Posts Tagged ‘Michael Jackson’

“I am not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
                                  Woody Allen 

“It ought to be the business of every day to prepare for our last day.”
                                  Matthew Henry


There have been many high profile celebrity deaths in the last two weeks. It’s been kind of hard to miss that fact. A lot of people have been asking, “What’s going on?”

While the concentration of celebrity deaths in a short time is unusually high I don’t think anything is going on beyond what occurs 5,500 times everyday in the United States. That’s the number of people according to the New England Journal of Medicine who die everyday in this country. It’s just not something we tend to dwell on everyday.

Celebrity deaths from Marilyn Monroe, to James Dean, to Elvis, to Princess Diana, to Michael Jackson seem to grab our attention and provide never-ending discussions.  Death scenes in movies also grab our attention. Some of the all-time most memorable scenes in movie history are centered around death. Here are a few examples:

The shower scene in Psycho, the opening scene in Jaws, the closing scene in Braveheart, the vast number of bodies spread out on the field of battle in Gone with the Wind, and William Holden floating in a pool in Sunset Boulevard. The list goes on and on. (Tim Dirks’ filmsite.org has a whole list called Greatest Movie Death Scenes.) 

Since a major part of movies center around conflict then it’s natural that death would be at the center of some of our most memorable movie experiences.  Here’s some solid advise on how to write a death scene:

“In The Godfather, Don Corleone falls and has a fatal heart attack while entertaining his grandson. The physical life of the scene is superb: Brando slices an orange and places the peel against his teeth, pretending to be a monster. It not only adds an interesting texture but also breaks the stasis of the scene when the child bursts into tears and forces Corleone to comfort him. The physical life created a flow and opened the door for a very specific and interesting character revel. It is a very original way to write a death scene by juxtaposing play with death.” 
                              James Ryan  
                              Screenwriting from the Heart
                              page 150 


Scott W. Smith

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Farrah. Michael. They are part of the small, but elite club in pop culture that are known by one name. Before their deaths yesterday, both Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson had their share of time in the spot light as well as time getting lost in their own versions of never never land. Seems to often be the price of fame and fortune. 

Yes, I was one of the zillions of teenage boys in the 70s who had the Farrah poster. And my first 8mm film as a 20-year-old film student at the University of Miami used Michael Jackson’s song She’s Out of My Life. A fellow student told me afters seeing the film, “I’ll never forget your film.” (Heck, I’ve pretty much forgotten that film–but I haven’t forgotten that compliment.)

Jackson & Fawsett came from smaller cities in the interior of the United States. Jackson from Gary, Indiana and Fawsett in Corpus Christi, Texas. I always like to point those things out. But what sometimes gets lost in the media flurry of discussing their deaths is these were two talented people. Jackson sold 750 million records and Fawsett was a three time Emmy nominated actress. 

And just to keep this in line with screenwriting I have been thinking in the last year or so about a lesser known film that Fawsett was in back in 1977, Logan’s Run. It’s a Sci-Fi film that takes place in the 23rd century where due to population control and the economy, people are not allowed to have a 30th birthday. And since the main character Logan is 29 he decides to run. Good concept and a fitting topic today as aging and the economy are hot topics. 

I did a little searching and found out that an updated version of Logan’s Run is in pre-production with a script being written by Oscar-nominated Timothy Sexton. (Though talks of a remake have probably been going on for a decade.) It would be a timely film that would probably address issues we’ll be debating long before the 23 century.

For what it’s worth, Farrah was 29 when her famous poster came out and Michael was 31 when he recorded “She’s Out of My Life”–their best work was years down the line. Let’s hope Logan’s Run is always considered to be Sci-Fi.


Scott W. Smith

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