For my final project, I randomly rearranged the scripts of Oliver Stone’s “Platoon” (1986), “Nixon” (1995), “World Trade Center” (2006), and “W.” (2008).
My reasoning in picking these four films was that they were all directed by the same director, and each deal with a unique American event: the Vietnam War, the presidencies of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, and the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. My goal was to see the effect that mashing together four scripts together and randomizing the lines would have on the traditional film narrative. I also wanted to create interesting unintentional juxtapositions between “Nixon” and “W.” (as they are popularly received as the most polarizing presidents of the past sixty years), “Platoon” and “Nixon” (as the Vietnam War was still being fought under Nixon’s presidency), “WTC” and” W.” (as 9/11 happened early in Bush’s presidency and forever shaped his legacy, America, and the world as we know it, and “Platoon” and “WTC” (as both films deal with average Americans thrust into exceptional circumstances and fall victim to their surroundings, whether it be in the jungles of Vietnam, or underneath the rubble of the World Trade Center).
I knew going into this project that it would be very time-consuming to create a new script based off of randomly selected lines of text from four other scripts, but I was up for the task. It took me a few days to complete the project, and I hoped to edit together the footage from the original films in the most interesting juxtapositions in the script. Unfortunately, this proved impossible as once “W.” was in the editor, it no longer had sound, “Nixon” wouldn’t load into the editor, and even a ten second clip from “Platoon” took close to two hours to render in the editor. If those issues didn’t factor into the process of this project, I think it would have added a new take on changing of film narrative and its juxtapositions that I was striving for. Regardless, I am still proud of the finished script: “We Created a Frankenstein” (the title comes from a line on p. 92 that Erlichman delivers), which can be found here:
My methodology was first to find the four scripts. Unfortunately only “Nixon” and “Platoon” were online and able to be copied and pasted, whereas the scripts for “World Trade Center” and “W.” were only available as photo pdfs. This meant I had to print out those two scripts, and assign each line a number. Once I finished assigning each line a number in both of those scripts, I selected all of “Nixon” and “Platoon” and copied and pasted the scripts into TextEdit, along with numbers 1-1029. Then I randomized that text file on textmechanic.com. Once I got the randomized list, I typed out the new script into the screenwriting program Celtx. I knew I wanted to at least get 100 pages of a script, as all four films were over 100 pages. I stopped at 102, because I thought ending on one of Chris (from Platoon)’s monologue was significant, as it deals a lot with Americans fighting for freedom (a tenet of Nixon and Bush’s philosophy on American foreign policy, along with being the belief that soldiers are supposed to share, and NYPD cops saving those in the WTC on 9/11).
Here are the most interesting juxtapositions I found throughout the script:
Of course, this is all very nonsensical, but there are some small moments of intrigue within this script. I really enjoyed making it, though part of me wishes I picked a less time-consuming task.