Friday, August 22, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri 2014 (2)

This is a political post.

I don't really go to the movies, because a) I really don't want to go alone and b) I be broke. But I do take a few minutes every few weeks to read up on the reviews, so that eighteen months from now when it ends up on cable, I'll know what I'm getting into. By the way, why hasn't the Avengers made it to cable yet? Even FX which is where Thor ended up for some reason. But I digress, this isn't about those movies, it's about a movie I read the review for, or rather a premise from that movie that I think could have been used...and still might be used...for something other than YA romance...stuff. 

The film is If I Stay, which is based on the novel of the same name and is about a young shy cellist who has been in car accident, falls into a coma and has a series out of body experience/flashbacks. She reviews her life where she's found the perfect teenage boyfriend who just gets her and listens to  pleas for her to just wake up.

My idea is to adopt the premise, the flashback/out of body experience part to the story of a young black man who has just been in an incident with the police and now is in the hospital or dying. To me, and I say this without having read the original story or seen the movie, but to me I think that properly used by another filmmaker this premise has the opportunity to show a conflicted character on all sides and tell a much more socially relevant piece of fiction.

Here is my idea. Open with the scene of the incident. It's all flashing blue lights, bodies moving in the dark, before we focus on the body of the black man in the street. Then the title comes up.

At the hospital, we get the cliche race through to ER, and we see the main character's face, and the camera then pans up to the same face, as the character's spirit watches the activity surrounding his body. We see him flashback to his first day of high school then to maybe to Sunday morning with his parents at church.

His "spirit" visits his mother and father who have gotten the news, and their expressions of rage and anguish. We flashback to see him arguing with mother. His father making suggestions at odds with his own plans for the future. The flashback continues to show him doing silly, possibly illegal things with friends - smoking, underage drinking. His "spirit" listens to his mother tell his grandmother what has happened.

He flashes back goes to his childhood, where you see him interact with grandmother and extended family, children at play, adults socializing. This leads into a seen of him socializing with friends now, then plays back to him at the playground as a child.

His "spirit" visits his friends, some of whom lament his situation, others who feel he deserved it. He visits the neighborhood, hearing how people he didn't even know thought of him. He flashbacks again, but this time to the start of this day. To moments with his girlfriend, with his friends. We see him basically living the life of an ordinary teenager. 

I don't have the whole thing fleshed out, there would be a lot more flashbacks, his spirit hearing the police officer describe the scene, hearing his friend talk about the same scene, etc. The idea just struck me earlier today as how to expand the original premise, but give both sides of the story in a generally palatable dramatic format. The whole idea of the film is to show the main character, a young black male, not as a thug nor as a choir boy, but as a whole person. And to show that one person's version of events can differ from another person's version, and that those differences are important when a life hangs in the balance.

And yes, this idea was prompted by my thoughts on Ferguson, which I'm having trouble expressing. Next week, I'm going with light stuff, not because this isn't relevant, but because my mind needs to be somewhere else for a minute.

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