Film Adaptation Project Rough Draft

The aspect I want to focus on for this film adaptation is on a few certain scenes. There are several scenes in this book with such an immense amount of emotion, symbolisation and more. By focusing on these specific scenes, we can bring the film together. We can explain the story in a way for the viewers to feel emotional attachment with both the characters and scenes. We can also demonstrate how Lionel Essrog, the main character, slowly changes throughout the development of this story.

There are 3 major scenes that I believe are essential to the success of this film.

The first scene I believe we should emphasise on is when Lionel is leaving Julia’s apartment and a detective stops them by trying to ask questions (106). Julia ignores the cop’s questions as she gets into a car and leaves town. Lionel is left with the detective and within his crosshair to ask all his questions too. As the detective is questioning Lionel, he feels indifferent to the situation and we can see this clearly; “… I’d like to go for a sandwich first. I’m starving. You want to get a sandwich with me?” (109). In doing so, we can see Lionel slowly shedding his childish side and turning into the man he had always wanted to be; his true role model, Frank Minna. We can also see several examples of where Lionel lies to the cop. For example, one time when he was asked where Julia was going and he responded with, “She wanted to go shopping” (112). Another example is when he was asked if he had ever heard of Matricardi and Rockaforte and he responds, “Never heard of them” (115).  He also jokes with the cop when he got tired of getting no answers from Lionel and threw him up against the wall, showing his calmness during this serious confrontation, “This was unexpected. You’re like good cop bad cop rolled into one.” (114). By focusing on this scene, we can have the actors transfer their emotions to the audience and have them understand that this scene is extremely important in the development of the story because it is when Lionel starts to understand he must adopt the “mindset “of Frank Minna to solve the murder of Frank Minna. It is where we finally see Lionel become who he truly wanted to be, Frank Minna. “I’ll catch the killer… that’s what ill give you.” (115).

The second scene I believe we should focus on is the scene when Lionel is with Kimmery in her apartment. During this scene, the affection and excitement is coursing from the book to the readers. We must make it the same for the movie to give off the same feelings to fully comprehend the meaning and importance of this scene. Kimmery does not fully understand Lionel’s condition but she nonetheless accepts him and wants to discover this real side of him. For once, someone cares about Lionel and is curious to ask about his Tourette syndrome. We see this while they are having intercourse, Kimmery says ‘‘its okay to talk… I like when you talk. When you make sounds.’’ (222). This is the first time Lionel hears someone actually ask him to tic and who is genuinely intrigued by him. In addition, throughout the time in the apartment Lionel was repeating much of what Kimmery was doing. I believe this could be a metaphor to declare that Lionel and Kimmery have a strong connection and that Kimmery’s feelings are closely related to those of Lionel’s. Just as Lionel, Kimmery feels ‘‘alienated’’ (213) from society. Lionel even realizes that Kimmery was “rootless, alienated in this space. The Oreo Man’s house was her home, or possibly the Zendo, just as L&L was mine, just as Shelf’s was elsewhere, too. None of us could go to those places, so we huddled here together avoiding the big room and the forest of skyscrapers.’’ (213). Lionel makes this realization and understands that he enjoys Kimmery’s presence because she treats him as an equal and more importantly, for once in his life, not a freak. Also by Lionel analyzing Kimmery’s situation and coming up with such a thorough conclusion, we can see that he understands Kimmery’s situation because he feels as if he is in the same one. This is why this scene is such an important one, Lionel dissects his own character for all of us to view and understand what had been going through mentally his entire life.

The third scene is extremely powerful and crucial not only to the ending but also to demonstrate the final considerable development of Lionel’s character. Lionel throws, Tony’s gun, Minna’s beeper, Julia’s gun, the doorman’s cellphone and one of his shoes. Each thing he threw had a significantly large amount of symbolism attached to it. By throwing Tony’s gun and Minna’s beeper, he is emotionally separating from the two. In throwing Tony’s gun, Lionel demonstrates detachment with him. He understands Tony is gone and that he had done as much as he can to try to help but he was gone now and Lionel had finally accepted it. By throwing Minna’s beeper it shows how Lionel finally accepts that Minna, just like Tony, is gone. He finally understands that it wasn’t his fault that Minna died and that he did not disappoint him in his death and we could see this when he later on explains, “The ghosts I felt sorriest for weren’t the dead ones. I’d imagined Frank and Tony were mine to protect, but I’d been wrong. I knew it now” (311). Lionel feels he can finally move on with his life in peace and not feeling guilty for Frank and Tony’s death. By throwing Julia’s gun he shows that he is done with the Minna women. He speaks with her prior to this and during this conversation he understands Julia needs to be on her own for once in a long time. She had been “prisoner” of the Minna brothers and of the Brooklyn troubles and now they were finally over and she had to live her life that she’d been present physically but absent mentally for so long. By throwing the doorman’s cellphone it demonstrates how he accepts the end result of the case and that he can finally move on. He had done all he can to set things right, he had supposedly gotten the giant arrested, got vengeance on Gerard and cut of the link between L&L and Rockaforte and Matricardi. Finally, the last object Lionel throws is his shoe. Before doing this he thinks to himself that “Julia’s pain was no longer his concern” (303).  “You choose your battles, Frank Minna used to say, thought the term was hardly original to him. You also distance yourself from cruelty, if you have any brains. I was developing a few” (303). Lionel then removed his shoe, gave it a kiss good-bye and throw it into the waves. By throwing his shoe, a piece of his clothing, it indicates that he is throwing away a part of himself. He accepts the outcome of this unique situation and is finally able to put the frank Minna identity he had adopted during this investigation to rest along with frank Minna where it should be. This last object might seem meaningless but in reality has the greatest meaning out of all the objects thrown. If this is not emphasized in the movie, viewers might not fully understand the ending of the story and how Lionel has accepted the outcome and has changed largely from the beginning of the story.

In conclusion, the movie should focus on these 3 specific scenes because they contain such a large amount of details, emotions, metaphors and symbolisms that if not focused on, the viewers can get lost or confused in the development of the story. Hence, the viewer may not enjoy the movie as much. Without emphasizing the importance of this, viewers might not realize the true progression of Lionel’s character and so the ending might not be so clear. Many will believe he had not gotten what he wanted when in fact he truly did.

Steven Colalillo

Work Cited

Lethem, Jonathan. Motherless Brooklyn. New York: Vintage Contemporaries – Vintage, a Division of Random House, 2006. Print.


One thought on “Film Adaptation Project Rough Draft

  1. This is a great draft. Terrific. You’re an excellent writer, and you do a really nice job of analyzing these scenes. You’re really digging below the surface of the action. In these three scenes, you manage to give us a really well-rounded view of Lionel’s character. Your ideas are original and interesting. I see a real engagement with the novel, which is exactly one of the goals of this exercise. You should feel quite confident in your writing: it’s genuine, easy to read, and it reads effortlessly. All hard things to do well.

    I’d have two notes for your next draft:

    Consider what your main point is. You can discuss these three scenes (I think they’re great choices), but how do they all fit together? What’s the overall thread that runs through them? I think you get close to this in your last scene where you discuss the change in Lionel. You’re sniffing around a main idea, but you’re not quite there yet. Consider what Lionel wants, and what stands in his way, and what he gets at the end.

    My other note would be to consider relating some moments in some of these scenes to other parts of the novel. In discussing these scenes, you can make connections to other parts of the novel. You can compare or contrast moments from these scenes to other moments in other scenes. This would add to your argument that the emotions in these scenes resonate throughout (which I believe they totally do).

    As I said, this is a terrific start. You’re doing excellent work here. You should feel great about what you have so far.


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