What I’m about to explain is going to be a bit weird. Weird in that sense where someone who's been hanging around too many literary theorists (both in real life and over the internet, both recently and over several years) sits you down and starts talking to you about . . . ideas.
I won’t start going through Blakean allusions here, or anything like that. Not really my style.
|Yes, Alice's last name comes from this Marvin.|
The main difference between my two Alice film scripts is perspective. The storyline of the film has always revolved around the relationship between Herman Klein and his android life partner Alice Marvin.* The original short story where this narrative began was told entirely from Herman's perspective: he tells you how lonely he was, how Alice made him feel happy and loved (because she was designed for that purpose), and how he decided to live openly with her once he realized that android intelligence was superior to humanity’s. Alice decided to respond to her liberation from literal slavery by slowly pushing humanity, one person at a time, beyond our current, wretched condition.
* Easter eggs for the projects. I've thrown little references to androids in popular science-fiction and the history of cybernetics all over the project. One character’s last name is Spiner, a coffeeshop where one scene takes place is called Café Capek, for example. I still haven’t come up with a title for the film itself, though. Maybe a good phrase will appear somewhere in the dialogue as I write it.
Last Fall, I was developing a storyline whose perspective was Herman’s. And right now, it hit a limit of my skills as a writer: Herman’s story was so interior that I had a lot of trouble dramatizing it. I could depict it as memory and thought in a literary form, but I couldn’t bring it across in dramatic, dialogical form.
I don't like to describe the difference between the media as between the interior and the exterior; that's a little too dualist for me, ignores the integration of self and world. Narrative prose is about building a complex, intricate perspective on the world. Drama, whether on stage but especially in cinema, is about building a world.
|Not every android is depressed.|
Andrei Tarkovsky could make strange films that depicted interiority and twisted emotional states with imagery alone. I'm not Andrei Tarkovsky. I don't think I can say I'm anything near his level without seeming like a twat.
So I changed the storyline to push the Herman-Alice story into the background. Discovering the truth of this relationship, after they’ve established themselves as equal partners and not owner and property, is now the endpoint of the film. It instead concentrates on Alice’s first act of helping push humanity to a better ethical stance beyond Herman.
Elias is a colleague of Herman who dates women the same age as his adult daughter, treats both his girlfriends and his daughter with either possessiveness or condescension, and his response to meeting Alice is to become obsessed with her and try to break her off from her relationship with Herman.
The weird, meta-fictional thing is, Elias already existed in my fiction. He exists in my old novel (which at some point, I'll turn into a short story collection) A Small Man’s Town. There, he’s a sex-obsessed professor, just like in the new Alice script. But he's a very marginal character in that novel. He appears only once, to talk the girlfriend of the book's protagonist, both university undergrads, to join himself and his wife for a threesome. He eventually convinces another student after she turns him down.
Well, Laurie doesn’t turn him down as much as she tells Elias to go fuck himself while running away.
Across both the media that I’ve used him in, Elias expresses a very pure and important aspect of humanity: our inherent sleaze. When I need to express this in the best way for a narrative, I'll come to him. The climax of the film will be when this embodiment of human greasiness sees himself for the wretch that he is.
I just have to get his fall right.