Dirty Cuts Analysis

An analysis for the screenplay I included in my previous post.

While the Hero’s Journey in most stories is that of a character who is clearly positively represented in society, the main character, or hero of Dirty Cuts is a criminal.  Gideon van Deventer is a rhino poacher, considered one of the foremost in the world.  Previously to this scene, he has been shown both during a hunt, and being arrested and sent to prison.  This scene represents the fifth stage of the Hero’s Journey: Crossing the Threshold.  Van Deventer’s Ordinary World is one where he is a free hunter who hunts legally, but is drawn into the industry of poaching rhinos for their immensely valuable horns.  His transition to the Special World begins with his arrest.  He begins to be incorporated into an entirely separate society.  However, the Crossing of the Threshold doesn’t actually occur until what he had built his previous life off of, rhino poaching, comes back to threaten and haunt him.  The men from Gert Saaiman offer him a deal to return to big game hunting, and most likely poaching, complete with a large amount of funding and supplies, in exchange for his silence in court against them.  However, more than this, they threaten him to accept the offer.  Their past with him also acts as a pressure for him to follow their lead, as it is proof that they will stop at nothing to make sure everything goes in their favor.  This past includes murder and rape of people close to van Deventer.  The first action the men take in van Deventer’s presence in this scene is to kill the warden of the prison who questions their presence in his prison, specifically talking to van Deventer.  This is their lead-in to their argument that forces van Deventer to cross into this new, special world where he is forced to make the decision between continuing life as a criminal with extended resources and a higher place on the government’s blacklist, or admitting his wrongs, testifying against his accomplices in poaching, but living the rest of life in danger of being killed or harmed by these very accomplices, specifically Saaiman’s men.

The initial shot that I want used is an extreme long shot in the form of a birds-eye view of Kroonstad, South Africa from the upper atmosphere.  This won’t be high enough to place the scene on a map, but it will be enough to show the desolation and isolation of the area where the prison is located.  Its purpose, like many of its kind, is to put the main character, van Deventer, and the supporting characters in this scene, Saaiman’s Accomplices, in a state of being very small in the eyes of the audience compared to the entire world around them.  This shot will zoom in to a long shot of the prison from the front.  Once again, this will place the scene by introducing the setting, but will also further enhance and justify van Deventer’s relative sense of desperation that he feels throughout the scene.  A third type of shot I have included in my screenplay is the two-shot.  This type of a medium shot is created to show interaction or dialogue between two people.  The best use of it in Dirty Cuts is in the moment when Saaiman’s Accomplice 1 is facing off with the warden of the prison.  They are both holding their handguns up to each other, both prepared in their own limited capacity to shoot the other.  The dialogue leading up to it has already occurred, making this shot solely for showing this interaction that serves as a warning for what is to come for van Deventer should he refuse to follow Saaiman’s demands.  Finally, in the moment before he shoots, a close-up shot is shown of this Accomplice’s upper body, specifically from his upper chest up.  It is a display of the insensitivity that defines the next action this Accomplice takes: shooting the warden.  While the scenes preceding this showed criminals shooting animals, van Deventer later notes that this is very different from shooting people.

There are two instances of music I have noted in the screenplay for this scene.  The first is a haunting type of music featuring stringed instruments such as violin, viola and cello.  This isn’t haunting in the same style as horror movies, which are scary, but rather in the style of action movies, where haunting music signifies the unknown or suspense.  The speed and intensity of the music match the actions that accompany it.  For example, as the guards carrying assault rifles come into view, the both of these factors increase.  Or, when Saaiman’s accomplices first come into view, the music stops entirely, matching the feelings of the warden, who is presumably behind the camera.  This music continues throughout the conversation that follows, but it eventually fades out.  The second track is of a brass or woodwind instrument rather than strings.  This is more straightforward and less complex, as there is only one unique sound, rather than those of all the strings of a stringed instrument.  This time, rather than acting so much as a filler that hides the silence accompanying the introductory movement of the camera, the music acts like an omen for what is to come.  Especially ominous instruments in this category include flute and trombone.

The myth that is illustrated by this scene and this idea in general, is that criminals are intrinsically bad, and that the bad things they do are entirely their fault.  The difference in the case of van Deventer is that he agreed to help his brother, who worked for Gert Saaiman, to kill a rhino, and almost got pulled into the industry after that.  The idea that this scene starts is that he is now, rather than being hunted by the government (he is already in jail), being hunted by his very accomplices, who now seem much more powerful.  The abrupt ending of the scene indicates that the Accomplices are somewhat like prophets of what may be to come for van Deventer, though they do threaten him.  It gives the scene the kick it needs to appear a part of a movie rather than an individual scene, and allows for a different side of the Accomplices, and potentially Saaiman, to show.

Finally, the purpose behind producing a movie like this would be to raise awareness about this issue of poaching rhinos for their horns.  While this is an issue many people recognize, there is a myth that significant action is succeeding against it.  While, to an extent, this is true, the fact is that the industry is growing, especially due to the growing demand in Southeast Asia, specifically in Vietnam, is causing this poaching to grow synchronously.  The organizations fighting it need support, as does the changing industry.  If I were to continue writing the screenplay, this would be one of the main reasons I would do so.


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