2007 Monterey Screenwriting Competition: Top Three Placement in Location Category.
Script Consultant: Heather Hale
Scott Slovic, Head of the Literature and Environment Graduate Program, University of Nevada, Reno:
Robinson Jeffers is one of the most intriguing and surprising figures in American literature, and this new screenplay does an outstanding job of portraying Jeffers' life and ideas, from his infatuation with Una to his philosophy of nature. But the special focus of this screenplay is Jeffers' outspokenness against World War II and how his pacifism hurt his public reputation, despite the fact that he was America's leading poet of the mid-twentieth century, even featured on the cover of Time magazine. This is an extremely timely story to present to today's movie viewers, as we become more deeply mired in the current Middle Eastern conflict. This is a powerful screenplay and a genuinely meaningful story.
Robert Kafka, Managing Editor, Jeffers Studies, Treasurer, Robinson Jeffers Association:
“Jeffer’s Ghost: The Life of Robinson Jeffers” is a screenplay that is re-orienting in a couple of ways. First, as a cultural corrective, it brings into focus a poet whose artistic work, once regarded as among the most important of its time, has been ill-served by more recent critical dogmas. But more importantly, it serves to re-introduce a voice to the public that is in urgent need of being heard, reminding us, in some of the most memorable language penned in this country, of the folly of foreign military engagements, the chronic mendacity of our elected leaders, even the dangers of global warming. Jeffers’ astringent view of American popular and political cultures is more necessary to us today than at any time since his death in 1962. This is a screenplay that places Jeffers’ searing castigations – as well as his proffered redemptions – before a new audience who may now be ready to attend to his prophecies.
Blue Cat Screenplay Competition. Top 10% Finalist. Reader’s Review:
Dr. Jeffers' salient advice to his young son on how to become a poet on page 10 really keys in on how young Jeffers' personality might take shape later in life. "You just need more of life's experiences. Pain, sorrow, suffering. Believe me, they will all come.” This explicit direction imparts tremendous gravity upon the development of Jeffers' character-- He begins to command the sort of cautious, protective attention from the reader not unlike that of a parent-child relationship. We, as a consequence, anticipate the brunt of heartache and mourning. This advice is immediately challenged by his mother, Anne, detailing, "...you will be ready to write when you find your voice. And the best way to find that is to find the love of your life." You also create wonderful parallel constructs throughout the script such as the conflicting parental advice previously referenced as well as a very thoughtful purging of Jeffers' infidelity to Una via the Medea/Jason dialogue written for Judith Anderson on page 119.
Your script is carefully wrought with a seemingly endless array of thoughtful, historically significant detail. This is all interwoven without the feeling of enduring a parade of self-indulging grandeur. Robinson Jeffers offsets any risk of such a display, and consequently, we glean solely from Jeffers, the scholar, and not that of you, the author. We root for him to sate his desire to learn—From his beginnings as a neophyte poet, to finding the strength to write once again later in his life, it becomes abundantly clear that his intellectual pursuits are essential to his physical existence. The script doesn’t rely solely on facts and references, both obtuse and well-known, for ornamentation as even incidental detail is created with great care: "He clasps her to keep his balance on the scaffolding..." (page 68).
As the script progresses, you effectively use Jeffers' voice-overs as an effective narrative device. The reader is left, however, speculating if that voice is tinged with regret, sorrow, or perhaps, a quiet joy over having reunited with his muse, Una. Even as you indicate the actions of Jeffers' ghost maneuvering in the world of your script, ensure that even, he, as an omniscient narrator is worthy of empathy.
Grant greater insight to the ghost's perspective earlier in the script so you can effectively eschew the pitfalls of a strictly detached narrative-voice. You finally allow the ghost to deliver an impressive outpouring over his wife's ever-present love, beauty and devotion on pages 60/61. It's a considerably moving facet to the narration, and perhaps, a thoughtful payoff to encounter a little under half-way through the script. True to form, Jeffers shows that even in death, his wife maintains her position as his sole muse; for it took her inspiration to rouse that seemingly stifled narrative-voice. Page 84 is another good example of allowing us to see Jeffers' ghost negotiate charged spaces that held memories of his life. He perches himself near a window for an augmented view; something that is quite peculiar for a ghost, but serves to magnify the interest in that narrative-voice. As a result, the expectations surrounding Jeffers’ ghost provoke uncertainty rather than that of complete omniscience.
Site Content Copyright 2016-2018 Alan Stacy
Site Content Copyright 2016-2017 Alan Stacy