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IndustryCentral ScreenWriters Exchange: Drama: I AM THE WALRUS
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By Chris Roland (Croland) on Wednesday, May 17, 2000 - 03:54 pm:



“I am the Walrus” follows the chaotic lives of five friends, Craig, Dave, Ted, Mark and Christian, from 1969 to the early 90’s. The five survivors fight their way out of the Valley’s lower class to the shallow trappings of LA’s Westside in the only way they know how. Along the way, their friendship deteriorates and Christian ends up dead. On the surface, the story subtly deals with the question, “Which friend killed Christian, and why?” The underlying theme is that we are all reflections of what we were given in life, until we realize we have a choice. For all, but Ted, the choice comes too late.

The five friends are all victims of a turbulent 60’s culture ripped apart by alcohol, drugs, Viet Nam, family secrets, and rapidly changing values. Their parents are stuck in limbo between the disillusionment of their own youth and the realities of the present, unequipped to pass on the tools needed for a so called “normal” life. Consequently, the five are left to fend for themselves by the limited and dysfunctional means they inherit. What is redeeming about these forgotten lower class youths is that they manage to survive, at least until its time to pay the piper.

One thing is imminently clear for the five – they want to move up. Like so many others, they buy into money and materialism, adopting the credo, “He who dies with the most wins”. What follows is a series of outrageous, and often clever get rich quick schemes, from buying and selling used cars and houses in the 70’s and 80’s, to starting the “Realization of the Self Center”, a spiritual retreat in the heart of LA, backed by “Italian” money. The center becomes an instant hit with the spiritual egos of LA’s early 90’s, who are dubiously making amends for the excess of the 80’s. The Center also becomes the beginning of the end when Christian has a sudden revelation, during an orgy with four spiritual groupies, and realizes who and what he has become. For the first time since they were street kids, the five fall apart.

The story is told in succession by each of the five characters as adults in the present. As they relive their memories, we flash back to the past. In the first act, shortly after the five have fallen apart, and just before Christian is pushed through a plate glass window from the sixth floor of his Westside condo, Christian takes us back to the earliest days just after dropping out of high school, “When the guys were tight. So tight we didn’t have to think about it.” Through Christian’s eyes we are introduced to Craig, the controlling and cynical leader of the five; Dave, the slick looking stud who is following in the footsteps of his shallow womanizing father; Mark, the alcoholic who epitomizes the failure he fears, and Ted; the acid head obsessed with Paul McCartney. One by one, Craig, Dave, and Mark take us through the history of the five, and the circumstances surrounding Christian’s death. In the final act, Ted reveals the tragic truth.

“I am the Walrus” employs a unique and fresh structure by bouncing back and forth between the past and present, integrating voice over from the present with moments from the past to tell much of the story. This hectic journey is harsh, cool, hip, humorous, chaotic, assaulting and insane. It is also a reflection of what life is like growing up in a culture that expects much, and provides little.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By Alan A. Armer (Alana) on Friday, May 19, 2000 - 11:24 am:


Chris Roland . . .

An excellent concept, nicely summarized.

I wonder if you really need FIVE central characters. Consider telling your story with three - or four. I know from experience that the more central characters in a story, the more difficult it becomes to tell that story well. Your characters are nicely defined but by trying to define so many protagonists, usually you end up just skimming over the surface, without really getting beneath that surface.

Please give the above suggestion serious thought. I once worked on a script with multiple protagonists and we went through three different writers and about six rewrites before we got it to a point where we could film it.

My second thought. Some areas of the story, especially the backgrounds of your characters, seem a little dreary and downbeat. Consider making one of your characters lighter, something of a clown, irreverent, so that we can add a thread of lightness to this good story. Audiences love humor but the humor must grow out of a character.

I like this story very much. It's obvious that you have given it a great deal of serious creative thought.

Much good luck!

Critique by
Alan A. Armer

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