MEET JOE BLACK Analysis Scene

For Class #3

 Instructor: Norman Hollyn T.A.: Robert Abilez
 Office: 323-275-1869 Phone: 213-220-0213-220-0408408

 E-Mail: hollyn [at] usc.edu

E-Mail: rnabilez [at] gmail.com





This evening we will be looking at a scene from MEET JOE BLACK. As I mentioned, I will usually not show something that I don't like because a) it's a cheap shot, and b) I'd rather you learn from well-edited scenes than badly edited ones. However, this scene has much to teach us in terms of trusting an audience.

We examine the build of the two characters' emotions as they clearly relate to each other. If Susan wasn't engaged she might leap at this chance. But fate is forcing them not to be together at this point (very soon we will find out that fate is bringing them together, but that is outside of this class -- go watch the film if you want to see how it works out).

One of my points about "When Should I Cut" in the first class was to cut when there is nothing new to be gleaned from the shot. The same is true for a series of shots. How do you know when to finish a scene (or a moment in a scene)? I'd answer the same way: when there is nothing new to be gleaned from them. As you watch the scene below ask yourself where we stop making our point and where we begin to repeat it.

I've highlighted in yellow the area where you should pay particular attention.


MEET JOE BLACK

EXT. CORINTH COFFEE SHOP, YORK AVENUE - DAY

The Young Man holds the door for Susan as they step out onto the street. Susan is staring at him now, he smiles, all open and vulnerable.


SUSAN

I've got to go --


YOUNG MAN
Did I say something wrong?


SUSAN
No, it was so right it scares me.


YOUNG MAN
I've been thinking... I don't want you to be my doctor. Because I don't want you to examine me.


SUSAN
Why?


YOUNG MAN
Because I like you so much.
(a moment)
You have coffee here every morning, don't you? If I came by, could you give me the name of a doctor?


Another moment.


SUSAN
Sure, I'll give you the name of a doctor.
(a moment)
...And I don't want to examine you.


YOUNG MAN
Why not?


SUSAN
Because I like you so much. Now I've got to go.


She hurries away down the sidewalk, the Young Man watching her. Now he turns and starts off in the opposite direction.


ANOTHER ANGLE - SUSAN

She looks back at the Young Man, then turns and walks on.


ANOTHER ANGLE - THE YOUNG MAN

He looks back at Susan as the distance between them widens, now he turns and walks on.


ON SUSAN

She looks around once more but the Young Man is still headed in the opposite direction, his back to her. She turns the corner and continues on.

ON THE YOUNG MAN

Approaching the corner, he looks back for Susan yet again, but she is gone,
still turned he steps off into the street and a hospital supplies truck, speeding down the curb lane, HITS HIM BROADSIDE, a horrific impact, the THUD echoes as his body arcs through the air.

Another sickening THUD as it lands, the Young Man lies crumpled, still.




Though I've tried to accomodate other browsers THIS SITE IS DESIGNED FOR BEST USE WITH SAFARI for the Mac, and FIREFOX for both the PC and the Mac. It also looks reasonably good on the iPhone. Lucked out on that!

All material, except where noted, ©1999-2012 by Norman Hollyn. Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Send me an e-mail at my office
Last Modified - October 15, 2012