No one will take away from Scott Frank the happiness of having been one of the big winners on Emmy night. Last Sunday he was one of the few who challenged the organizers of the greatest global TV party and ignored the unsubtle musical message that told him to finish as soon as possible with his words of thanks after winning the award for best director for Lady’s gambit, miniseries of which he is also one of its creators.
He continued there without stopping talking, impervious to the increasingly loud volume of the instrumental version of “Con te partó” put on to convince him that he had to get off the stage as quickly as possible. It had, like all winners, the indication not to exceed 45 seconds. But he felt so entitled to be in that place that his speech exceeded two minutes.
How can we not justify Frank even though he also won on Sunday, in the opinion of many, the “award” for the worst speech of the Emmy night? After a few unsuccessful nominations, it was the first time that recognition of this caliber had been received after accumulating enough merits as a screenwriter, producer and director for 25 years, and today being valued as one of the most talented creators of fiction. in the most powerful entertainment industry in the world.
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With the great success of Lady’s gambitFrank stopped playing underdog at the Hollywood Grand Prix. He had reached the 2018 Emmy with three nominations for the excellent Godless, his first big television project of his own (available on Netflix, like the miniseries that saw him succeed on Sunday). The same thing happened to him twice with the Oscar, a prize to which he aspired for the first time in 1998 for the screenplay of A dangerous romanceby Steven Soderbergh. The second nomination came in 2017 for Logan, also by adapted script. Two magnificent jobs.
Between the two, it undoubtedly deserved in 2002 to add a third Oscar nomination. That year, Frank signed with Jon Cohen the script for Minority report: previous sentence. It was from that job to Steven Spielberg that his name began to be considered more and more as a skilled author and creator of fictions, his own or adapted from different literary sources.
At that time, Frank had been collaborating with Spielberg for some time, for whom he had worked for the first time adjusting and enriching in 1998 some details of the script for Saving Private Ryan, although without appearing in the credits. And it was Spielberg who made her feel strong enough to step into a world that until then was completely unknown to her.
Minority Report: previous sentence is based on a story (just 31 pages) by Philip K. Dick, the same author of Blade Runner and The future Avenger, and one of the most important names in the great universal canon of science fiction literature. Dick envisioned in this short text written in 1956 a future in which preventing insecurity is possible in the broadest sense of the word.
We are in 2054. Through an experimental program applied in Washington, the government manages to anticipate the criminal acts (especially murders) that are about to take place through the arrest of those who are going to commit them. This is possible thanks to the visions of three human beings, two men and one woman, with extraordinary powers to capture the thoughts of other people’s minds.
These three people are known as “precogs” and they live almost in a situation of slavery, subordinating the totality of their respective stocks to the need for the authorities to reduce insecurity situations as much as possible and, incidentally, increase social control. about citizens. The person in charge of executing the preventive operations that anticipate the criminal act is a policeman named John Anderton, a character with whom he Tom Cruise would initiate its collaboration with Spielberg. Two years later, actor and director would meet again in another futuristic episode, War of the Worlds.
In the film, Anderton expresses through Cruise Spielberg’s classic attention to the themes of family rupture, tearing, and reconstitution. The policeman suffers the loss of his young son (who drowned in a public pool) and the divorce of his wife, pains that he tries to mitigate through designer drugs. Until at one point he himself is identified as the author of one of the murders glimpsed by the “precogs” and forced to escape, now pursued by a government official named Witwer (played by Colin Farrell), someone who also strongly questions the “preventive” program.
As the critic Leonardo D’Esposito points out in his book on Spielberg (A life in the cinema, published in 2018 by Paidós), the film has a lot of action, includes a police mystery in its plot and is essentially cinephile. The strongest influence is that of Alfred Hitchcock, that more than once he narrated stories about the flight of innocent people mistakenly accused of having committed terrible deeds.
On Minority Report: previous sentence, Scott Frank was responsible for the final stroke of the script, which will finally be brought to the screen, while Cohen took care of developing the first versions of that writing. “It was the hardest script I ever had to write, especially since science fiction was always a foreign world for me,” Frank acknowledged.
But at the same time, Frank recognized that Spielberg’s searches (which he was undertaking with this film and the one immediately before it, AI Artificial intelligence, the most experimental and pessimistic stage of his entire filmography) coincided in this case with his. “All my films have been about someone trying to find a true identity. These are people looking at themselves from a new perspective: who they are versus who they thought they were. In that sense, Anderton is a man blinded by his own pain, “said Frank in conversation with the site Creative Screenwriter. Lady’s gambit It is the last stage, so far, of that journey.
He also observed with interest another of the film’s keys: the reflection on a world in which social control increases in the same proportion that the space for the exercise of privacy among human beings decreases. “That notion of privacy is what we are losing more and more, especially because of the Internet,” noted Frank. Before filming, together with Spielberg, the screenwriter agreed to discuss the possible portrait of a future with these characteristics together with a group of experts: architects, urban planners, MIT scientists and even journalists.
“There was something very interesting in Jon Cohen’s script – Frank observes: the idea of reading a person’s eyes to identify them. That is the big theme of the movie. At one point, Anderton has his eyes surgically removed so he can maneuver without being tracked. It’s about being seen, seeing only what you want to see and being blind to certain things. Anderton has a blind spot and that is why he embraced for all the wrong reasons a system that is going to haunt him later. He needs the system to chase him so he can really see what’s going on. “
Traces of Frank’s later works (Lady’s gambit, among them) appear clearly in Minority Report: previous sentence, a film that not only draws on Hitchcock’s work. It also draws on highly recognizable elements from crime stories from the black series and from modern classics of the genre such as Contact in France. “There is a bit of Popeye Doyle in John Anderton. Popeye, Gene Hackman’s character in Contact in France, is a hero who has as many flaws as the people they are after. I like to write about those kinds of characters. On the other hand, superheroes bore me a lot, because there is no conflict that forces them to stick together in terms of their internal needs ”, he adds.
Frank could return to that world in one of his next projects. He wants to get back one of the great noir detectives, Sam Spade, and take him to live his mature years in Paris. The detective in his sixties Mr. Spade (tentative title of a future film project) could be played by Clive Owen. He also plans to adapt and direct a new version for the big screen of Laughter in the dark (Laughter in the Dark), the novel by Vladimir Nabokov which was released in theaters in Argentina in 1969 as An infamous woman, directed by Tony Richardson, with Nicol Williamson and Anna Karina.
Minority Report: previous sentence is available on Amazon Prime Video and Movistar Play