WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY MARTIN MCDONAGH
After I killed them I dropped the gun off in the Thames, washed the residue off my hands in the bathroom of a Burger King and walked home to await instructions. Shortly thereafter the instructions came through – ‘Get the f$ck out of London you dumb f$cking c*&#%. Get to Bruges.’ I didn’t even know where Bruges f$cking was…
… It’s in Belgium.
Opening voice overs… So many times they become too long and wordy. The bad ones are obvious and full of exposition. I know because I’ve written some pretty wordy ones myself. (They are collecting dust for a reason.) Needless to say, opening voice overs are difficult to pull off…
Many screenwriters stay away from voice overs. The same screenwriters have probably seen Adaptation (2002) and it’s portrayal of Robert Mckee’s thoughts on the matter:
“God help you! It’s flaccid, sloppy writing. Any idiot can write voice-over narration to explain the thoughts of a character. You must present the internal conflicts of your character in image, in symbol. Film is a medium of movement and image.” (‘Adaptation’ Written by Charlie Kaufman.)
In Bruges is most definitely an exception to the ‘rule’ which are meant to be skillfully broken. (Annie Hall is another fantastic example) I’m a big fan of the versatility of voice overs but it has to be done right especially if it opens a movie. It’s risky but it can also be unique.
Martin Mcdonagh succeeds where many have failed. He strings a couple sentences together and perfectly captures the spirit of the movie and the main character played by Colin Farrell.
It’s a fantastic movie and a perfect example of how a simple concept can be injected full or originality, humor and entertainment in the right hands. I’ve loaned it to so many people who skipped it.
If you skipped it, it’s worth a try. From an aspiring screenwriter’s perspective, it’s absolutely inspiring.
Check out these links for more on Voice Overs in screenplays:
The Script Lab | When Voice Over Works
Gideon’s Screenwriting Tips | Voice Overs In Your Screenplay
The Story Department | The Great Voice Over Debate
The Script Lab | Top 10 Voice Overs In Film