A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world. Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!
I know this makes me some kind of ignoramus, but reading Shakespeare feels like reading code, it’s English but not as we know it. Add my instinct that it’s been fetishised, weaponised to exclude all but the few, and I can’t help feeling outside, the way slang privileges a niche group.
This version was translated by Dominic Baker-Smith. To these eyes it reads like the preface for a dystopian fiction, certainly more satirical than I expected.
Feels like a Tory take on class conflict.
There’s a class conflict at the heart of the plot that reminds me a little of Terry Nation’s seventies virus thriller “Survivors”. Nation’s bad guys are all working class union leaders, imposing their collectivist ideas on the middle class survivors of the apocalypse.
Christofides takes a similar tack, as we follow his salt of the earth landowner, battling to protect his family against the ruthless socialists imposing their land reforms, and trying to steel his ancestral home.
I’m not entirely sure how any of this links to the Border Reivers, other than the location of the story. For me the reivers analogy stretches thin under the weight of contemporary political reality. When the riding families were active, raiding across the border lands of Northumberland and Cumbria, they fought and feuded, murdered and robbed, to survive harsh conditions. They were organised and ruthless, the mafia before the mafia was a thing, demanding protection from raiding, taking hostages and extorting ransoms. As likely to take up arms and fight for the King as against him. From the things I’ve read on the subject the reivers were less the lone wolf and more of a pack animal.
All of that aside, it’s a well written thriller that keeps you reading, and I liked it.
This screenplay feels like a transcript of the film. What’s on the page is so what’s on the screen, it feels like Sorkin made the movie before he wrote it. It’s clear, precise, and most of all readable, in a way some writers don’t manage, and some screenplays aren’t. It flows on the page the way people tell their stories. It jumps around. There are digressions but only to clarify something else. His use of voiceover is a marvel. Best of all it doesn’t feel at odds with the story. It is the story, Molly Bloom’s story, told in her voice. I have long considered voiceover a literary affectation. Screenwriters use it when they want to get the writing of a book, and the voice of the original author, into a film. It’s used as a framing device to make the film feel like a book. Sorkin goes beyond that. In his hands it’s a structural element that holds together the multiple strands of the story. A must read for anyone interested in screenwriting.