Jeff watches John Carter – 4
A look at the dialogue shows the scene shooting in 3 directions at once. Or – are they reading the same script ?
I’m warning you, this is going to be rough. Yes I wrote out all the dialogue, I can’t tear it apart unless I have in front of me. I’m using color to make the reading easier. And no pretty pictures this time, this took me long enough to do. So here we go.
J – War is a shameful thing
D – Not when the noble causes taken up by those who can make a difference. You make a difference today Virginia.
J- Okay, see my name is John Carter. Virginia is where I’m from
D – Where did you learn to jump that way This puzzles me, shouldn’t it be ‘how’ ?
J – I don’t know, how did you learn to fly
I find this a strange, if echoing an idea, response. It’s taken me a while to find the words for what I’ve known all along, that their questions about jumping and flying aren’t equivalent. John should see airships as wonderful machines, but machines non-the-less. He comes from a world in an industrial revolution, where anything is possible. But super human jumping ? That’s a completely different category. For both Dejah and John it’s like breaking the laws of physics. Or put this way –
Dejah -Where did you learn to dance that way ?
John – I don’t know, how did you learn to like onions ?
Dejah -Your ships cannot sail on light in Virginia ?
John – No professor, see our ships sail the seas ‘Professor’ jogged me out too.
Dejah gives him a cool look. I suspect that an earlier version had Dejah challenging him about oceans at this point.
J- Endless water everywhere ? I find this both unnecessary and clumsy. Then Dejah starts walking around him.
D- Skeletal structure normal –
J – What are you doing ?
D- It must be the density of your bones, jumped for me !
Which just made me go – huh ? But the swat in the butt is brilliant. All I could think of while actually watching the movie was “ he’d have light bones so he’d weigh less and could jump ? I think it’s just something for Dejah to say so she sounds scientific. Maybe she should have said something atomic structure repelling him from the gravitational field or something. I don’t know.
Sola – Enough ! There’ll be time for playfulness was later !
D- I want no playfulness from him ! We use this phrase in the house now. I want his help. Explain to me how you do you do it. If it’s a skill, teach it to Helium. Name your price.
J- I’m not for hire ! I’ve got a cave of gold of my own, somewhere.
The gold comments almost never work, they’re often too far out of context. He needed some other way of saying “I have a different goal, a different life somewhere else. Or, no thanks, I have plans already….. “ From the storyboard – “ I’m not for hire, I have plenty of gold of my own, and I’m going back to it”. Much better.
D – Only a madman would rave about the time of oceans.
J – Is that your expert view professor, that I’m mad ?
D – Or a liar.
Dejah is suspicious of John, but wants his help. I have hard time with her response to John saying he’s from Earth ( she looks like she believes him ) and not seeing his jumping and strength as proof of that. There are response shots of her cocking her head while her brain goes – “maybe… “ or “ how curious… “ She seems to be giving cues that she is accepting what he says, despite her suspicions. This is the third direction interaction that seems at at odds at times with what’s being said. If the cast and Stanton said this scene made them cry at nights, I wouldn’t have been surprised. I’d love to see the original script ( I’d love to have a script period ) but I suspect too many rewrites on the go just buggled it up.
Of course all of this, who is Carter, does Dejah believe him, stems script wise from the key moment of her finally excepting him as Jasoomian when they are in the Thern temple. And that’s a lovely scene, but as I write this and put these ideas together I realize that the later scene dictates this first encounter between Dejah and John. It probably explains why it seems so clumsy and pieced together.
Sola – she is a good match for you Dotar Sojat.
J – don’t call me that.
D- There are no seas on the planet.
J – You said planet…
And Dejah gets all curious again.
I loved them using all of the Barsoomian names for the planets.
D – That is Jasoom, you are on Barsoom John Carter .
Which makes it sound like she believes he’s from Jasoom.
J – Mars, I’m on Mars.
Now he notices the 2 moons in the sky. Granted, it’s only his second night there with Dejah right there I wouldn’t see anything else anyways.
J – Good god, I’m on Mars…
D- So your home is Jasoom and you came on one of your sailing ships across millions of and karads of empty space ?
J – No, not like that.
D- Go on Shock me – how ? What ? What !? What the hell is this ? ‘Shock me ?’ This is as bad as Cave of Gold. No it’s worse . The sentiment may be right, but but but but – aarghh !!!
J- That brought me here.
D- Oh that explains everything then.
J- It does ?
D- You’re a Thern. Now she sounds like Carrie Fisher and she goes all sarcastic. Of course those are the same two things. In hind sight, I don’t know why she takes him to the temple or what she expects to happen there since she doesn’t believe him…
Okay, enough – I really do love the movie, but this sequence is probably what made reviewers roll their eyes up and roll over. I can’t imagine why this scene wasn’t nailed before they were shooting. It probably was, but the organic process of working with actors and having ideas in the middle of night may well have been it’s undoing. Perhaps a ‘great new idea’ was added while shooting and the whole thing went jiggity after that. It’s a real shame, as I’ve said, the confrontation between Dejah and her father is so bloody excellent and genre breaking, and this scene ( well into the movie ) is a rats-nest of ideas tossed like pick-up-stix. If there was ever a director’s cut this scene could use a heavy work over. I know that part of this was a scene was added to later, I think talk of the planets was part of that. I’ll say again, as a creative, I do not view reshoots or add-in’s as evidence of some being horribly wrong. As for that wished for director’s cut, perhaps the only thing to do to this scene is trim it down, keep it tight and avoid the firing off into multiple directions at once. You may loose some ideas in the process, but as it stands so many ideas are brought up that are never followed up on. Okay, I’m done now. Time for breakfast. Leave your scathing comments below – Jeff