Monday, January 10, 2011

'Clash of the Titans' (2010) - Evolution of a Script Pt. 2

by Tristan Mahlow

Post based upon the script dated January 25, 2007 'First Draft' by Travis Beachem

For the sophomore entry in this series, I take a look at a different version of the Clash of the Titans script written nearly four years after the first. The script was written by Travis Beachem. He takes the basic premise, but turns a few things upside down. Let's begin, shall we?

1. Script Summary
2. Script Differences & Similarities
3. Analysis
4. Conclusion
5. Questions

1. Script Summary
We learn that the Gods started a war against humanity to punish them for not believing in the Gods anymore. But Zeus wants to end this war and thus begets a child with Queen Danae. Her husband does not show much understanding for this betrayal and casts her out onto the open sea. She dies, but her demigod son is rescued by fishermen. Years later, the war still raging, the Gods assemble in the halls of Olympos. They decide to sign a peace treaty with the humans to finally end this war. But Tiamat the Deep and Set the Void are against this treaty, as they live off of the fear and blood of the humans. They conspire against the decision of the gods and want to continue this war. Down on earth a messenger of the Gods delivers the conditions of the peace treaty to King Kepheus, ruler of Joppa: His daughter, Andromeda, is to marry a demigod to seal the bond between the Gods and humans. We get to know Andromeda, when her mother Cassiopeia overhears her having sex with someone from the kitchen staff. On an remote island, Perseus, Zeus son, doesn't know about his ancestry or his future when The Wilting Girl knocks on his door and abducts him to Joppa. On arriving at Joppa Perseus is ordered to find Andromeda, who is out partying. He finds her, drunk and dancing. After exchanging pleasantries, Andromeda confesses that she doesn't want to marry him. But nonetheless they then decide to sleep together.

The next day: The festivities for the marriage are starting, Andromeda is making a sour face, while Perseus is just standing around. At the height of the fest, a tipsy Queen Cassiopeia dares to say that her daughter is more beautiful than Tiamat - then, as any revengeful god would do - Tiamat appears, nearly kills Cassiopeia and punishes the people of Joppa for this incident: For the next 30 days The Leviathan will besiege the city and on the last day, the city will be wiped out - unless Joppa sacrificies Andromeda (thus voiding the treaty with the gods). Kepheus is willing to sacrifice his daughter so save the city, but Perseus stops him: He wants to kill The Leviathan! A group (Praetorians, Monster Hunters, The Wilting Girl, Ammon, Cheops) is quickly assembled to travel to the Norm Sisters. Tiamat orders Set to interfere with our hero and his group. Back in Joppa, Andromeda is fed up with just sitting around and waiting, so she flees. Peshet, her maid, goes after her and learns, that there is an underground movement led by Fantasos to capture Andromeda and offer her to Tiamat. On a whim, Peshet becomes a follower. We learn that The Wilting Girl has to die, while our group fights their way through hordes of enemies (a Humbaba, Lotophagi). They are saved by Djinn Riders, which bring them to the Norm Sisters. These sage creatures tell Perseus the only way to stop The Leviathan is with the head of the Medusa. To fight against her, he also receives a shield. So the group continues to the Tartaros Temple, Perseus goes in blindfolded and kills the Medusa. The rest of the group is slaughtered by centaurs. Returning to Joppa, Perseus and The Wilting Girl fall in love and sleep together. Back at Joppa, everbody is getting ready for the big showdown: Andromeda pouts about being  useless, while The Leviathan kills most of the city's inhabitants. It is revealed that Tiamat ultimately wants to ascend the throne of the Gods. The group - now only consisting of Perseus and The Wilting Girl - arrive at Joppa on the last day, stopped by an army laying siege. The Wilting Girl vanishes without a word. Peshet tries to abduct Andromeda, but finds Andromeda trying to kill herself. In another change of character, Peshet now dies defending Andromeda from her abducters, but in vain. The princess is brought to Fantasos, who wants to sacrifice her to Tiamat. When The Leviathan appears, the army starts an attack on Joppa and is met by their mechanical forces. Perseus summons a Pegasus, flies into the city, saves Andromeda and kills The Leviathan. After the battle, Zeus appears and wants Perseus to marry Andromeda. But he refuses as he loves The Wilting Girl. THE END?!

2. Script Differences & Similarities
The basic premise of the script stayed the same: >Perseus has to get the head of the Medusa to save a city<. But so many details, so many things have changed that this is a whole different story. Andromeda was reduced from the tough girl to a wailing, party-hopping, promiscuous princess and this time around she stayed in Joppa. And last but not least: Perseus and Andromeda don't fall in love with each other. The enemy this time is a godess herself, not just a fallen son of a god. 
The only new character is the Wilting Girl: a low godess, helping Zeus. She dies, because nobody prays to her anymore, but nonetheless she and Perseus fall in love with each other.
The Leviathan plays a bigger role in this new script, as it was just a last resort in the previous script.

3. Analysis

To get a clearer picture of the script, I want to take a look at the motivations for our characters:

Perseus: Longing for an important and meaningful life; discovering to be the son of Zeus takes care of that on page 19; what is his motivation for the rest of the movie? He kills the Medusa because he is supposed to do that; at the End of the movie: wants to save the Wilting Girl;
The Wilting Girl: No real intrinsic motivations, she is a servant of Zeus and as such follows his orders;
Andromeda: Really doesn't want to marry; that's about it.
Tiamat: Wants to ascend the throne of the Gods; this is good and believable motivation for our villain;
The Djinn Riders: Another addition to the script, they appear deus ex machina, save the day, and disappear again;

So, after thinking about the motivations, it becomes clear: What is the dilemma? Why should Perseus care, if Joppa is destroyed? In the previous script Perseus cared, just because he cared for Andromeda and that alone is a good motivation to prevent her sacrifice. But in this version, Perseus loves the Wilting Girl. But then why didn't he do everything in his power to save her, instead of saving Joppa (a city he just visited for the first time)? Only after the Leviathan is killed, he starts to think about his love - and walks away from his responsibility to Joppa. Why didn't he do this to begin with? The script cuts back and forth between Joppa and our group, but the Joppa segments don't provide any counterpart to the group segments: On one hand because nothing is really happening in Joppa, and on the other hand the reader doesn't care about Andromeda. So, all in all: the characters took a turn for the worse.
The Villain: Tiamat and Set are the antagonists this time: They want the power of Zeus and prevent the signing of the peace treaty. This is a strong motive (stronger than Calabus' motivation). But in the end they are not defeated! Perseus kills Tiamat's pet, but there is no confrontation between her and Perseus. So, after killing The Leviathan, there are no consequences: After all Perseus doesn't marry Andromeda, will the war continue? Tiamat is still around, she doesn't just stop going after the throne of Zeus, does she?

What didn't work:
- The Motivation: the characters (except the villains) have no real motivations to do any of those things they do in the script, resulting in less suspense.
- Change In Character: Peshet is introduced as the most loyal servant to Andromeda, 50 pages later she wants to kill Andromeda, another 50 pages later she dies saving her; Perseus sleeps with Andromeda, falls in love with the Wilting Girl; - This is not only a problem of motivation for every character; but of their characterisation in general. They do seem all over the place, doing whatever creates a good scene and not doing what fits to one character.
- Unfinished Business: Perseus doesn't defeat Tiamat; this feels unfinished, unsatisfaying. Additionally the script (as the previous one) doesn't find an answer to all those underlying questions about the power of mankind.

What worked:
- The Villains: Tiamat is a interesting character; her threath seems more palpable.
- And Action: the set pieces were interesting, diverse and well-written.

4. Conclusion
The script tries so hard to be different, to be new and original - but it changes everything for the worse. All core ingredients are there again, but twisted and distorted, so they never convey a real sense of story and character. The characters seem to be real problem of this script: they never come alive, they never relate to the reader.

5. Questions
The script hints at "The Iron Horde", which was lost in the war, quite often throughout, but they never play any role whatsoever. Is this planting for a proposed sequel?
After reading my post: What would you have kept from this version of the script?
What changes would you make on this script?

Other parts in this Series:
'Clash of the Titans' (2010) - Evolution of a Script Pt. 1
'Clash of the Titans' (2010) - Evolution of a Script Pt. 3

Your feedback is heartly appreciated!

References: IMDb; Wiki; Roger Ebert; Rotten Tomatoes;

1 comment:

  1. Really great Article. A little bit too long though for my taste...