Jul 3, 2009

Rule Of Thumb: Tonal Consistency

Jul 3, 2009
This one is extremely difficult to get a handle on.

When writing any script it is essential to flesh out and understand it's tone and keep it consistent throughout.

Hancock suffered from a severe case of tonal identity crisis. For the first stretch of the movie it was a satirical comedy centering around an alcoholic superhero, then abruptly, and with no transition, it becomes a deadly serious drama about a superhero who doesn't know who he is. For the rest of the movie it continues to abruptly switch between the two tones without any blending.

Ghost Town on the other hand knows exactly what it is. It perfectly balances a comedy about a self-centered jerk getting a wake up call with a touching character drama. Even the most absurd comedy scenes had some nice subtle dramatic touches, and the most dramatic scenes had careful comic touches to prevent it from taking itself too seriously.

Really, it just comes down to smooth segways between tones and not abandoning the one you start with. Give Mutt's article on The Three Pillars a look for more on genres and tones.

6 comments:

  1. yeh its dissapointing when that happens, i remember watching from dusk till dawn and the first half it's a kidnap/ road film then unexpectedly it turns in to a vampire stripper film.

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  2. Ha ha! Some would fail to see how that's a bad thing. :P

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  3. Reminds me a bit of MASH, I think overall it combines the two really well. Some episodes more than others but I really like the combination. I agree with Hancock, I didn't mind the movie but the polar opposites were crazy.

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  4. lol, yeh, well it was dissapointing for me becasue it was all cool the first half then all of the suden just over the top and corny, and yes cause im not in to vampire strippers.

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  5. I haven't seen From Dusk till Dawn, but M*A*S*H is an excellent example of how tones should compliment or contrast but not compete.

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