By Trevor Pacelli
I wanted to share with you a story idea I wrote in one of my classes at Arizona State as I continue to learn about screenwriting and film studies. Enjoy!
In the late 19th century, an old town in Elko County, Nevada is suffering from lack of grain, game, and gold. Many of the inhabitants of the town have already moved on and attempted to travel to other towns, but have reached little to no luck. But then a young boy named Samuel, who’s far from old enough to work a knife, decides to go and find a place that has food to help his dying grandfather. His parents are reluctant to let him go off on his own where he could wind up eaten instead of eating. But the sheriff of the town sees value in this young boy’s dedication, and lets him go. Samuel travels out for a long time, living off the very little bread and water he was given. After several weeks, he finds a large field of wheat, right next to a ravine of fresh water. He’s finally found a place that could save his family, but he’s forgotten one thing: getting back.
Scared and alone, Samuel tries very hard for several hours to remember which way he came. But as he tries to remember, he gets ambushed by a herd of hungry wolves. He feels that he is ultimately doomed, until someone calls out a wolf’s howl, drawing the herd away. Turned out the person calling out the howl was Samuel’s friend at home, Abigail, who followed Samuel out into the wilderness because she didn’t want him to be alone. Neither one of them knew how to get back home, so they decided to wait and see if any grown-ups came around who knew the area. Weeks pass, the two have been living off the grain and water, but no adults came around. Months pass, years pass, still no sign of human life.
Now, the two have grown more fond of each other as time pass, talking about their likes and dislikes, their fears, their concerns about their families at home, and above all if they think they’ll ever get back home. As even more time passes and they grow from young children to pre-teens, they continue running from wolves and other wild animals. But then, Abigail complains that they aren’t getting enough protein, and that it’s time they learn how to hunt. So Samuel uses the old knife he picked up in the start, faces up to a pack of wolves, and kills one, which then gets roasted and eaten. The habit continues, and Samuel then teaches Abigail how to hunt the same way: wolves, reptiles, fish, birds, and even bears.
More time passes, and they grow from awkward pre-teens to adolescents. They decide to take some action against the harsh and freezing winters they’re faced to survive, so they spend a great deal of their time building a house, completely out of the wood from several surrounding trees, they construct a hut that can keep them a bit warmer in the wintertime. Winter then comes around, and this time a blizzard strikes. But Samuel and Abigail were prepared, and stored up food and water and kept it inside the hut. The snow kept them inside the hut for several weeks, but they didn’t mind it at all, since they already had all the food and warmth they needed. Then, while cuddled together for warmth, in the comforting atmosphere, Samuel and Abigail kiss- marking the turn of their relationship from friendship to romance.
More years pass, and the couple has now established a fine system out of their environment: a suitable house, a storage system for food, a reservoir for clean water, a stove to cook game, a shelter from the sun, and on top of all that: Abigail’s pregnant.
It has officially been fifteen years at this point since Samuel and Abigail left home, and by now they’ve completely forgotten that they were supposed to be searching for someone to help them get back home. So they reach a complete halt in their routine when they meet the first human they’ve contacted in years: the county sheriff of the town they once lived in. The sheriff realized that the man he sees is in fact Samuel, and he questions why he never came back home. Samuel and Abigail also learn that their families have been dead for twelve years and lost their lives to the famine in the town. But not
everyone in the town has died, there are still a couple out traveling through the wilderness, under the same circumstances the growing children had. So for the very first time, Samuel and Abigail leave their home and the sheriff takes them to see the couple: a husband and wife with their twin daughters. Samuel suggests to them that they stay with them in the hut, as winter is coming again.
Just as the routine has always gone, Abigail and Samuel store up food and water in their hut for the weeks they’ll spend possibly stranded in the house, but this time for the family as well. Then all of them spend their time in the snow-enclosed hut, and the time arrives where Abigail’s ready to give birth. The labor process initiates and hours later, they give birth to a boy, whom Samuel names Dale. The family and the sheriff then help Abigail and Samuel continue enhancing the area they’ve constructed, in hopes to make it a suitable living arrangement. Then the sheriff is reminded of the telegram he received from a friend to find a home for at least ten other people in need for a home. So he then makes a trail to and from the nearest town so he won’t lose his way, and eventually an entire community of people arrives to establish the new small
town that is right next to an endless supply of abundant grain, water, and gold: Dale Town.
By Trevor Pacelli
I have just seen the recent blockbuster event that has been exciting audiences across the globe, Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. The reason I say that this movie was an unreal experience was because this really was so unlike anything that has
ever been done on the big screen before. It's a subject completely different
from what we're already used to: an astronaut stranded in space who struggles on her own to get back to Earth.
The thing about this movie that truly stands out is the special effects. The CGI and the tactics used to create the space atmosphere all work so convincingly that you forget it's mostly done by
computers. Not only that, but the cinematography is completely spot on, setting that sense of disorientation, weightlessness, and confusion, leaving the audience walking out of the theater with a feeling of weightlessness and
stupefaction, as if walking out of a thrill ride. The main thing that truly caught my eye while watching this in the cinema was how the first ten minutes were filmed all in one continuous camera shot; no cuts, no transitions, the camera just moves all over the place, immediately making you feel like you're there in space with the characters. I haven't seen this movie in 3D, but I can tell just by watching the movie, that if I were to watch it in 3D, then the setup of the visuals along with the surround sound would honestly convince the audience that they're not in a movie theater.
As far as the acting, I find Sandra Bullock's performance to be quite memorable. She portrays her character as one who seems helpless and not quite used to her new setting, but gradually as the film goes along, she builds herself up single-handedly. George Clooney is not in the movie as much as Bullock is, and he did not stand out nearly as much. His performance was very much passable, but he continues playing the same type of character as in most of his movies. In Gravity, it's especially impressive because there are only two actors in the entire 90 minutes!
The story is well planned out, in forming the back-story of Bullock's character and why she is escaping to outer space, away from the busy, depressing world. But I felt that the overall message of the film of getting back on your own two feet after a halt in your life could have been executed much more powerfully. Okay, so her daughter back home has died, so
what? I didn't feel what she was feeling. And the ending scene didn't bring that theme back up as well as it should have, which really hurts the film as the ending scene is supposed to present why the director wanted the audience to sit through this feature.
One thing I noticed as I was watching Gravity was that there were many references to past Sci-fi films. One of the more
recognizable ones would be many mentions of the phrase, "I've got a bad feeling about this," which is well known as being mentioned in every single Star Wars film. Also, there is a moment where Bullock finally gets into one of the space shuttles, removes her space suit, and floats in the air while releasing a sigh of relief. She is curled into a ball and is positioned in front of a larger circle with a cord dangling over her, creating the image of a baby in a uterus, and ultimately referencing 2001: A Space Odyssey. I believe these references are made to make a tribute to films that created a landmark in
Hollywood and helped craft the Sci-fi genre into what it is today, and if it weren't for 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars, Gravity would not have been possible with today's CGI technology.
So, when Oscar season comes around, what awards is it likely to receive? Well, it's going to win best visual effects and best cinematography no question, making this the fifth year in a row where both of those awards went to the same movie. It's also likely to win for best Film Editing, best Sound Editing and best Sound Mixing, and possibly get nominated for best original score, best lead actress, maybe win best Director, and if it's lucky, win best motion picture of the year.
Overall, would I recommend this movie? I'd say yes. It's a phenomenal cinematic event that creates a spectacle that can only be enjoyed on the big screen, and is highly enjoyable for a large range of audiences. It's probably not for people who get sick easily from watching such disorienting images, but it's absolutely a movie that everyone needs to see while it's still here in theaters.
Inspiration for Life with Autism
This blog has a variety of articles about people living life with autism, and topics and ideas that can help in the journey. Guest bloggers are welcome. Inspired by Trevor, a young adult film critic, photographer and college graduate on the autism spectrum.