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Following the Flag

Step 3: Writing Your Logline

First draft for the logline (6/17):

A young man must face the many horrors of war after he enlists to fight for the honor of his nation's flag.

Step 2: Drafting Your Screenplay

Second draft! I changed one scene and removed a bit of dialogue that I thought the story could still make sense without. Feedback is always welcome! 

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxBqrpzXsMB7eDIwVF83Zy1nNlNRa1NMelFYSUphV001Njlz/edit

Note: second draft 6/17

First Draft. This is the first draft. Feeback is greatly appreciated! I'll give you some feedback on your script if you do the same for mine!

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxBqrpzXsMB7bXpMRzV6YXByT2NSRzU0QWRWcjlPNENtX3FR/edit

Note: first draft 6/14

Step 1: Selecting Your Text

I chose the poem "Harry Wilmans" from Spoon River Anthology:

I WAS just turned twenty-one, And Henry Phipps, the Sunday-school superintendent, Made a speech in Bindle’s Opera House. “The honor of the flag must be upheld,” he said, “Whether it be assailed by a barbarous tribe of Tagalogs Or the greatest power in Europe.” And we cheered and cheered the speech and the flag he waved As he spoke. And I went to the war in spite of my father, And followed the flag till I saw it raised By our camp in a rice field near Manila, And all of us cheered and cheered it. But there were flies and poisonous things; And there was the deadly water, And the cruel heat, And the sickening, putrid food; And the smell of the trench just back of the tents Where the soldiers went to empty themselves; And there were the whores who followed us, full of syphilis; And beastly acts between ourselves or alone, With bullying, hatred, degradation among us, And days of loathing and nights of fear To the hour of the charge through the steaming swamp, Till I fell with a scream, shot through the guts. Now there’s a flag over me in Spoon River. A flag! A flag!

This poem really intrigued me because it addresses the horrors of war through a young man's eyes. A man who was fed ideas of grandeur concerning battle, of the glory in following your flag into the fray, of fighting for your country and winning honor in doing so.

Specifically, I'd like to focus on what the war Harry describes is really like. The poem uses descriptions such as cruel, sickening, beastly and deadly. It's powerful imagery which I think can be used to create a contrasting montage between the false ideas Harry went into battle with and the actual terror of a real war.

I have also looked at two other poems from Spoon River Anthology to support and perhaps help flesh out Harry's story a bit more. The first is the poem "Many Soldiers" which follows shortly after "Harry Wilmans." "Many Soldiers" seems to go more in depth with the idea that young men were incited by false notions of the glory of war.

"Many Soldiers" starts with the line "THE IDEA danced before us as a flag;" Again this imagery of the flag comes into play, of a noble object which has been associated with honor and glory, even to the point where it is considered a dishonor for the striped fabric to brush the ground. This idea of the flag and what it represents is something that I would like to also incorporate into my adaption. I'd also like to note the cruel irony on which Harry's poem ends. He says "Now there's a flag over me in Spoon River! A flag! A flag!" A flag drapes his coffin, the very thing which sent him to the war in the first place, is what smothers him in death, and that is very interesting to me.

Finally, the other poem that I will be tying in with "Harry Wilmans" is the poem "Godwin James". This poem also speaks of the horrors of war. The speaker, Godwin, is someone who knows of Harry's fate, but says that his own fate was far worse. Godwin seems to be saying that Harry was just a mere soldier, who "fell in a swamp Near Manila, following the flag." However, both Harry and Godwin were "wounded by the greatness of a dream."

So, to bullet point a few main ideas for the adaptation:

  • imagery of the flag
  • contrasting horrors of war to the false ideals presented originally
  • how real the war is once Harry is in it
  • exactly what "horrors" he finds behind the battle lines

Feedback is greatly appreciated! I know I went a little long in fleshing out ideas, but I have a lot of them for this adaption.

 

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