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Screenplays of '12. Page 12. "Zero Dark Thirty"

New daily! I'll be sharing page 12 of every screenplay I've received for 2012 Films. With commentary!

The following scene stars Jason Clarke as "bad news" Daniel who has surprisingly not been getting much Supporting Actor buzz despite shooting off unmissable 'next big thing' vibes and Reda Kateb* as his tortured prisoner Ammar. I've drawn a little storyboard for you since the studio hasn't released any stills from this particular scene.  


The loud WAILING of the early morning call to prayer from the loudspeakers of a nearby mosque wakes Maya on the couch.



Daniel and the guards enter Ammar's cel with Maya. Daniel switches on the floodlights, awakening Ammar.

Let's take it easy today, huh?

Daniel hands Ammar a bottle of orange juice and a bag of falalfel.

                    DANIEL (CONT'D)
Hungry? The food in here sucks so I
got you some of this.

more scene and commentary after the jump...

Ammar grabs the lunch sack and scarfs down the falafels.

                     DANIEL (CONT'D)
Richard Reid, wow. I was thinking
about him. The guy gets a bomb in
his shoe on a plane. Unbelievable.
You know him, don't you?

Slowly, Ammar nods.


I'm glad you said that.  


• Regarding Reda Kateb...  Some of you will remember from a key supporting role in Un Prophète and he gives a barb wire painful take here on physical waste, defiant exhaustion and reduction to childlike impulses -- a shot of him clutching a plastic bottle of juice is heartbreaking. In case you missed my earlier rebuke of SAG and their grotesque rules about Outstanding Cast which always punish the lesser famous (and, inadvertently perhaps, often then results in all-white nominated casts even if the movie is multi-ethnic) -- the same would apply here. We must note again that SAG rules indicate that you have to have a solo title card to be nominated for Outstanding Cast. Had Zero Dark Thirty won the nomination it deserved (few movies had stronger ensemble work this year), the nominee list would have been eight names long: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle, Mark Strong, Kyle Chandler, Edgar Ramirez... "and James Gandolfini".

Reda and Fares, who both have multiple scenes, share a title card

Those denied this imagined honor -- allow me to be pissed in theory! -- despite significant contributions to the film would have been Reda Kateb and Fares Fares (both indispensable), Harold Perrineau, Stephane Dillane, Callan Mulvey, and Chris Pratt. And doesn't Pratt deserve prizes just for his new body alone?

• Watching this scene again, I marvel at the incredibly specific power of the cinematography by Greig Frasier (and Bigelow's guiding hand of course). Just this one excerpt from the screenplay when visualized has multiple lighting techniques and derives great compositional power from the use of natural light and the way a room changes when doors are opened and closed or artificial lights when spotlights are moved about. If Frasier is not nominated for this particular picture, there's something amiss in the cinematography branch.

• Jessica Chastain, who we were just discussing, is also in this scene. For a lead character Maya has surprisingly little dialogue. She's often in the background (or foreground) observing and processing the film's constant dense and maze-like barrage of information.


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Reader Comments (8)

This is a cool post. And yes, I am super excited to see this!

For those who watch TV, Jason Clarke was absolutely terrific as the lead, along with Jason Issacs, on Showtime's "Brotherhood". He was also pretty good as the lead on the short-lived, flawed, but very promising Fox show "The Chicago Code."

So for those TV lovers out there, we already knew he was great. Happy to see things happen for him though, because it is too often that brilliant small screen performers (no matter how brilliant - Katee Sackhoff anyone?), don't continue to get strong roles on the small screen, much less on the big screen. Best of luck to him!

December 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnnony

Why can't Supporting Actors ever garner traction for Bigelow's movies? Clarke will just have to join Mackie in an esteemed also-ran group.

And why did Edgerton get billing without Pratt? I feel like the two were joined at the hip throughout.

December 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

Ryan -- right? I can't quite make sense of that.

December 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

He was genuinely heartbreaking in this. I feel like most of the people in the audience, including myself, had to keep reminding ourselves: "He's a terrorist!" to assuage our sympathy for him. One lady sitting near me murmured a soft "Oh," when a single tear escaped from him while he drank the juice. I had heard a lot beforehand about how "brutal" the torture scenes for, but I guess I was expecting a visceral, emotionless, Nolan-like "brutality." These scenes were truly difficult to watch.

December 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

Couldn't agree more about Jason Clarke. Dan is a fascinating character and Clarke was so good. The character was more interesting to me than Maya because it was multi faceted.

December 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermurtada

The storyboard still is sick.

December 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVince Smetana

@murtada. Tbh, I think Dan is just... a better written character than Maya. I was thinking about people's comments about Maya being a cipher and it made me wonder whether it was deliberate or if Boal simply didn't know (or care) about writing a nuanced female character. I feel like there are a couple of moments that reveal Dan's internal life a little more, like his brief but easy banter with Kyle Chandler's character and the scenes with the monkeys. I cherished Chastain's bechdel-test-passing conversations with Jennifer Ehle but even those felt kind of awkward. Or is it just the sheer charisma of Clarke that makes Dan interesting? I'd be interested to hear others' thoughts on this.

December 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCici

Jason was great as the lead. The story was quite horrific.This article is good.

December 18, 2018 | Unregistered Commentershanaya

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