A screenplay writer and his deadline | Daily News

A screenplay writer and his deadline

Since the epic film ‘Schindler’s List’ was made by Steven Spielberg in 1993 there had been a lust from the viewers’ perspective for another quality black and white arthouse film from Hollywood. The 2020 film ‘MANK’ directed by David Fincher caters to that need to a great extent.

Expert filmmakers, scholars and viewers from all over the world are of the opinion, black and white frames could bestow the right treatment to aesthetics of an art film. ‘MANK’ proves that point.

MANK character is played in the film by Gary Oldman of ‘Dracula’ fame. (In the 1992 Dracula film he portrayed Count Dracula who time-travels for the sake of his undying love for Elizabeth / Mina in the guise of a vampire)

‘MANK’ plot revolves around the screenplay being written by Herman Mankiewicz aka Mank for Orson Welles’s 1940 film, ‘Citizen Kane’. Mank wouldn’t know he is writing the screenplay of a film that is going to be a masterpiece in the history of world cinema. Welles too wants to share the credit of writing the screenplay of his first feature film with Mank. The alcoholic Mank who is also bedridden after a car accident learns there are sinister realities in this glorified showbiz. Mank’s alcoholism hampers his progress in writing the screenplay and the deadline is nearing. Finally, he meets the deadline with a somewhat lengthy screenplay and Welles prunes it for his film. They both are jointly recognized at the Academy awards afterwards.

Portraying the real-life character of the writer/journalist Mank, Oldman magically endows it with much value and credibility. These are the type of actors who absorb a particular character to their soul before unleashing it in front of a cine camera. Their individuality never pops up when portraying a particular character since they basically become that character. Such performance of an actor on wide screen (or in small screen for that matter in this pandemic struck era) is treat for the viewers’ eyes. There are actors who have learned this art of ‘living within a character’ at actors’ studios such as Stanislavski or Lee Strasberg. Also there are actors (Like our own Joe Abeywickrama) who have the natural inclination for method acting.

Mank is an admirer of the actress Marian Davis. The character of Marian Davis (Amanda Seyfried) in the film would make someone time-travel to 1940s. She amazingly adapts to that setting.

There are captivating dialogues in the movie;

Once Welles asks from Mank, “Why are you doing this Mank…?”, and the latter replies, “Posterity”.

Mank would often utter, “You can make the world swear, King Kong is ten stories tall and Mary Pickford a virgin at 40”, with a sporadic smile.

He often calls his wife, “Poor Sara” which she doesn’t like at all. “Why did you put up with me…? he asks from Sara and she replies, “I don’t know”.

The sets, vehicles, attires and the physical evidence of every tiny part of the film perfectly blends with 1940s context. One would think whether the film was actually made in that era. Even the music scores and the sound of the instruments used are authentic to the period. Paramount studios and MGM studios in 1940s come into life again to showcase old Hollywood. Gangster flicks and cowboy films are being shot in the sets with saloons, sheriff’s offices, old bank buildings and ranches. Heavy smoking producers talk of ‘Frankenstein’, ’Wolf man’ or King Kong.

‘MANK’ garnered 10 Oscar nominations including best picture, best actor and best supporting actress. It won two Oscars for the best production design and cinematography.


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