Monday, August 27, 2007

Exposition with Pat, Part 2

(A continuation of our series on Exposition. Thanks again, Pat.)

Terminator 2
(James Cameron and William Wisher Jr., final script, 1991)

Bad exposition – this is so bad, Cameron had the good sense to cut it from the film. All it does it rehash stuff everyone knows already.


CLOSE ON SARAH. She is shackled, hands and feet, to the bed. Sunlight falls across her pale face. A hand enter frame, gently stroking her cheek. She wakes up to see --

KYLE REESE. Sitting on the edge of her bed, looking exactly the same as we last saw him in 1984. Scruffy blonde hair and a long raincoat.

Kyle..? You're dead.

He gives her a gentle smile.

I know. This is a dream, Sarah.

Oh. Yeah. They... make me take this stuff...

He puts a finger to her lips. Then silently unfastens her restraints. They gaze into each other's eyes. And in the look that his death and the horror she has been through since hasn't touched their love at all.

Hold me.

She melts into Reese's arms. Pulls him to her.

I love you. I always will.

Oh, God... Kyle. I need you so much.

She kisses him passionately. They are locked together in a timeless moment. PUSH IN TIGHT on Sarah as she buries her face in his shoulder. She shuts her eyes tight. Stay on Sarah as Reese speaks. He voice is strangely cold.

Where's John, Sarah?

Sarah opens her eyes and he is no longer in her arms. He is standing across the room. Pinning her with an accusing gaze.

They took him from me.

It's John who's the target now. You have to
protect him. He's wide open.

I know!

Don't quit, Sarah. Our son needs you.

(struggling not to cry)
I know, but I'm not as strong as I'm supposed
to be. I can't do it. I'm screwing up the

Remember the message... the future is not set.
There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.

Good verbal and visual exposition (combined) – John Conner and his buddy have ditched John’s foster parents. They’re gonna have some fun. These two short scenes give us about 10 years of background info on why Sarah’s where she is now and how she readied John for his future. The subtext is good, too, for it reveals John’s ambivalence about his mother. On the one hand, he’s embarrassed and ashamed. On the other, he loves her and admires what she’s done.


John furtively hunches before a Ready-Teller machine at the rear of a local bank while his friend Tim stands lookout. John slips a stolen ATM card into the machine slot. It is something he's rigged up, because trailing from the card is ribbon-wire which goes to some kind of black-box electronics unit he's got in his ever-present knapsack. He holds the pack between his knees and pulls out a little lap-top keyboard, which is also connected to the black-box.

John enters a few commands and the plasma-screen displays the PIN number for that account. He quickly enters the number on the Ready-Teller's keypad and asks it for 300 bucks. The machine whirs then begins dispensing twenty-dollar bills. Tim looks back over his shoulder amazed.

Easy money!

Where'd you learn all this stuff?

John collects the twenties as the machine kicks them out. A cool and professional electronic-age thief at ten years old.

From my mom. My real mom, I mean. Come on
(he grabs the last bills)
Let's go!

They sprint around the corner to an --


They huddle behind the building as John counts out Tim's share. He folds five twenties and palms them to the other kid. When John opens his wallet to put in his money, Tim notices a picture in a plastic sleeve.

That her?

John reluctantly shows his friend the Polaroid. It is a shot of Sarah. Pregnant, in a jeep near the Mexican border. John doesn't know it now, but he will carry the photo with him for over 30 years, and give it to a young man named Kyle Reese, who will travel back in time to become his father. Yes, that photo.

So she's pretty cool, huh?

Actually, no, she's a complete psycho. That's
why she's up at Pescedero. She tries to blow up
a computer factory, but she got shot and arrested.

No shit?

Yeah, she's a total loser. C'mon, let's check
out the 7-Eleven, whatya say?

John has tried to sound casual, but we see in his eyes that it really hurts. He slaps Tim on the shoulder and they jump onto his Honda. John fires up and they whine off down the alley.


Mim said...

Yeah, I watched that dream scene in the extras on the DVD when I rented it. I almost gagged. "This is a dream, Sarah."

No shit?

crossword said...

That's pretty funny. lol

It makes me wonder though whether it isn't a good idea to simply write whatever you feel and then mop-up afterwards... that seems to be what I'm seeing whenever I read early drafts.

Good example of John at the teller machine; very well done!

Mim said...

There was a lot of emotional impact in that scene at the ATM, at least for me, the first time I saw it. It says so much about how her vision of the future broke down.

Kyle told her what he heard from John later, so it's pretty tough to go from that to "she's a total loser."

crossword said...

I never get tired of watching T2 or Aliens.

PS. I can't wait to see what Cameron has next up his proverbial sleeve; in all this time away, he's now written Battle Angel, Avatar and Sanctum plus is producing The Dive and Fantastic Voyage.

And we'll get to see all of THAT over the next three years. So much to look forward to. :)