Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Studio Stories XV - MONTY PYTHON & the Secrecy Clause

For the unfamiliar, a "reveal" in screenwriting parlance is the placement of key, revelatory information in a story. Most times, the last reveal is the most important revelation of all.

FADE IN:

EXT. STREETS

He looks round for final reassurance from them but they have gone. He can just see their figures disappearing in the distance. BRIAN makes for the wall.

When he reaches the wall he starts writing on it in pathetically small letters.

We SEE it reads "Romanes Eunt Domus", As he finishes writing a CENTURION comes round the corner and catches him at it. A couple of SOLDIERS are with him but stay in the background throughout the scene.

               ROMAN
     What's this then! "Romanes
     Eunt Domus" People called
     Romanes, they went, House in
     the nominative.

               BRIAN
          (defiantly)
     It says "Romans go home."

               ROMAN
     No it doesn't. What's La-
     tin for Roman?
          (slaps him)
     Come on ... come on ...

               BRIAN
     Romanus!

               ROMAN
     Goes like?

               BRIAN
     Er ... annus.

               ROMAN
     Vocative plural of annus is
     ... is ...
          (tweaking hair)

               BRIAN
     Anni.

               ROMAN
     Romani ...
          (crossing out Es and
          substituting I, slaps
          Brian)
     Now what's this "eunt"?

               BRIAN
     Go ...
          (he is shaken)
     ... Er ...

               ROMAN
     Conjugate the verb to go.

               BRIAN
     Ire ... eo is it ... imus, it is
     Eunt ...

               ROMAN
     So eunt is ...

               BRIAN
     Third person plural pre-
     sent indicative. They go.


               ROMAN
     And you are ordering ...
     so you must use ...

               BRIAN
     The imperative!!

               ROMAN
     Which is ... is ...

               BRIAN
     Aaah ... i ...

               ROMAN
     How many Romans?

               BRIAN
     Plural! Plural! Ite!!
     Ite!!

               ROMAN
     Ite ...
          (changes it)
     Domus ... what is domus?

               BRIAN
     Er ...

               ROMAN
     Romans go home. This is
     motion towards, isn't it
     boy?

               BRIAN
     Dative, sir.


               ROMAN
     Dative ...
          (draws sword)

               BRIAN
     No, not dative ...

               ROMAN
     ... What?

               BRIAN
     Er ... accusative ... er
     ... domus, domum ... domura
     ... ad domum sir.

               ROMAN
     Except that domus takes the
     ...?
          (sword to throat)

               BRIAN
     ... Oh, the locative ... the
     locative sir!

               ROMAN
     Which is ...

               BRIAN
     Domum?

               ROMAN
     So we have ... Romani, ite
     domum. Do you understand?

               BRIAN
     Yes sir,

               ROMAN
     Now write it out a hundred
     times.

               BRIAN
     Yes sir.


               ROMAN
     And if it isn't done by sun-
     set, I'll cut your balls
     off.

               BRIAN
     Yes sir. Thank you, sir.

               ROMAN
     Hail Caesar!

               BRIAN
     Hail Caesar, sir and every-
     thing. Thank you sir.
          (he starts writing it out)

FADE DOWN, as the ROMAN goes, but leaves the SOLDIERS behind to enforce the punishment.

From LIFE OF BRIAN, 10-9-1978 draft, by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin.

   When they were setting up the production of LIFE OF BRIAN, and Barry Spikings of EMI (headed up by Lord Bernard Delfont) approached Eric Idle:

…and he kept saying to me, “Show me the script, show me the script.” And I said, “We haven’t finished it yet”, but I’d egg him along and say, “No, it’s great.” He read it at home and that’s when we got the money…” Then Delfont got cold feet, they all got cold feet, and pulled out of it when we’d already started to spend money on the production, and so we sued them.
Michael Palin: We were told that the head of EMI [Delfont] had had a look at the script and he’d never been shown the script before. He took exception to it and said, “We can’t possibly do this.” It was a devastating blow, people were out there in Tunisia, money had been committed, and they were just going to pull the plug. What was going to happen to all the people out there, what was going to happen to our set? That’s when Eric talked to [former Beatle] George Harrison, whom he’d got to know out in L.A. George was a huge Python fan, and he got it together very quickly.
Terry Jones: We got wind that EMI had suddenly pulled out and I think by this stage we’d spent about  £50,000. Then again, it was a court case. Fortunately somebody passed us some internal memos from EMI which had been sent round, EMI saying “We’re lucky enough to have the new Python movie” and all this kind of stuff. So they didn’t really have a leg to stand on, because they were trying to say no, they’d never said they were going to do it. So they settled and paid us the £50,000.
John Cleese: I heard that Delfont was worried because one of his brothers had financed JESUS OF NAZARETH, and had got a lot of prestige out of it, and he suddenly thought he would be compared very unfavorably with his brother for producing a parody of it. So he withdrew and paid us compensation and there was a secrecy clause, which we Pythons, naughty little things that we were, always pointed out with great delight, because there wasn’t a secrecy clause about the secrecy clause.
---THE PYTHONS, Autobiography by THE PYTHONS with Bob McCabe, Orion Books, Ltd. 2003.
   The Pythons wrestled with the idea of a Biblical story, and the idea that there was Messiah fever in Judea at the time of Christ. That led them to the notion of, as Michael Palin tells it, “…this character who wasn’t Jesus, but led an almost parallel life, was almost his next door neighbor.” “…we made the leap to doing it obliquely by inventing the guy who was born in the stable next door at the same time. In a strange way we were being very cautious about not being blasphemous by being totally blasphemous about another guy. My mother, an avid church-goer, saw it, but she didn’t have a problem because it wasn’t about Jesus.”---Terry Gilliam. “The humour lay in somebody preaching and talking about peace and love, and then in people who spend the next 2,000 years killing and torturing each other…”---Terry Jones. “What is absurd is not the teachings of the founders of religion. It’s what followers subsequently make of it.”---John Cleese. And so, once again, genius reigned. #

FADE OUT
Quote of the Post:
So he withdrew and paid us compensation and there was a secrecy clause, which we Pythons, naughty little things that we were, always pointed out with great delight, because there wasn’t a secrecy clause about the secrecy clause.
---John Cleese

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