A must-see video essay.
When David Fincher released Se7en – written by Andrew Kevin Walker – it changed the face of the cinematic cop-based thriller. When Cary Fukunaga released the first season of HBO’s True Detective – created and written by Nic Pizzolatto – it changed the face of the televisual cop-based thriller. And yes, both feature a dichotomous pair of partners at the center of their stories, which both involve stranger-than-fiction ritual-style murders, and both are highly-intelligent, replete with literary and classical references, and starkly unapologetic in their depictions of the evil man can do to man, but that’s not what separates them from their respective flocks, and it’s certainly not what makes them innovative. I could name a dozen shows and films that have similar elements but that don’t hold a candle to either Se7en or True Detective, and I’m sure you can too (starting, at least the latter’s list, with True Detective season two).
What does separate these examples, according to the latest essay from Michael Tucker for his Lessons from the Screenplay channel on You Tube, is how they handle character, specifically in relation to how character arcs, worldviews, and development reflect the stories’ themes (which are eerily similar).
If you’ve seen any of Tucker’s other essays you know to expect an insightful analysis no matter what the topic or subject, but this time he’s really outdone himself, and as usual it isn’t just screenwriters who can benefit from his expertise, but rather anyone who respects the arts of filmmaking or just storytelling in general. This one gets my highest possible recommendation.