Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Giving Super Mario Bros. The Movie Another Look--No, Seriously! Part 1

So a little while ago, I wrote this short news bit for covering the Super Mario Bros. The Movie Archive site's acquisition of 4 early drafts of the unfortunate screenplay. Soon after I was very unexpectedly, very graciously emailed by Steven Applebaum, one of the site's curators, who asked me to re-post the brief article on their forum. What's more, I was also asked to provide extra commentary on the film and its 4 early scripts. It took me awhile. I sifted through production notes, story pitches, read 2 vastly different scripts and one revision (and I will be reading the rest). I studied for this how I should have studied for every test I've ever had.

It was a matter of priority.

I now present Part 1 of this (hopefully) ongoing discussion. My observations and analysis derive mainly from the drafts, but I also took the time out to re-watch the movie. The wall of text I totally left in the discussion thread attempts to contextualize the film in the scripts from which it originated, looking at some of the over-arching themes, similarities, disparities, plot-holes, etc. The discussion aims to look at what the film could have been, what it became, and why.

By the end of this first post, I actually felt a kind of sympathy for the film. It's a little bit unsettling...In the meantime, here's a excerpt of my analysis of the second draft and its revision:

After reading both Bennett/Runté drafts, I admit I came away with a new appreciation for the screenwriting of this film. It goes without saying that there are darker, more adult streaks pervading these scripts, which I suppose helps if one is trying to appeal to teenagers. But the thing which really struck me was the political commentary and satire. The reinforcement of neo-constructivist Koopa propaganda and the conception of a dystopian, parallel Manhattan smacks of anti-Soviet and anti-totalitarian sentiment. This script was written in a very recent post-Gulf War era, and I suppose the biggest villains in recent Western history would have been Stalin...and Hitler, who I believe gets name-dropped in the revised draft. It's a clever way to steer the audience's emotions against Koopa by contextualizing his dictatorship in something most Westerners recognize as evil.

But seriously, so far this has been a great experience--and there will be more! And be sure to check out the SMB The Movie Archive site (linked above); they've got some really neat artifacts over there! Even if the Super Mario Bros. movie's not up your alley, you may end up seeing it from a new perspective. That's exactly what happened to me.


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