One of the underrated benefits of award season is the number of screenplays that end up legally online. These days, most studios jockeying for a screenwriting nomination will share their scripts, allowing professional and amateur writers alike the opportunity to study and learn from some of the best writers in the business. In a world where DVD commentaries are slowly fading away in favor of streaming releases, being able to compare a screenplay to the final onscreen results may be one of the better DIY approaches to film creation we have left.
And today, Netflix made the full 145-page shooting script for Martin Scorsese‘s “The Irishman” available on Deadline‘s website. This is a particularly enlightening script to read; while the digital de-aging effects used in “The Irishman” were some of the best in the business to-date, there are still times when the physicality of Robert De Niro as a 76-year-old actor contrast the, ah, digital fluidity of the character’s features. Seeing the actions play out on the page – how Frank Sheeran was described at 35, then again at 55, then back at 80 – adds a little context to a performance inexorably linked to its supporting technology.
The screenplay, penned by Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York” screenwriter Steven Zaillian, can also add a little bit of insight into some of the film’s most essential scenes. It’s little moments peppered throughout the script, such as Sheeran expecting not to walk out of the final Hoffa meeting alive, or the lack of emotional context for Peggy Sheeran during her conflict with her father. In that scene, in particular, Peggy is written devoid of emotion; any anger or sadness or fear she might’ve felt came from the performance, not on the page.
So if you’re the sort of person who benefits from reading screenplays, be sure to give this one a read this weekend. Hell, even if you’re not, be sure to save this one on your computer. You never know when a folder full of award-winning screenplays might inspire you.