Script To Screen: “Ghostbusters”

August 7th, 2013 by

From the 1984 movie Ghostbusters [written by Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis], the Final Struggle.

Setup: Gozer commands the three Ghostbusters to choose their form of destruction and despite trying to keep their minds blank, Stantz has a brain fart, resulting in this:

They all turn and look to the south.

GHOSTBUSTERS POV

Looking south past Columbus Circle, they see part of something big and
white moving between the buildings accompanied by thunderous footsteps of
almost seismic proportions.

VENKMAN

He doesn't know what it is yet, but he knows it's coming.

				     VENKMAN
				(desperately)
			What is it?  Ray, what did you think of?

BROADWAY AND 55TH

The massive white shape passes behind some buildings, offering a glimpse
of what appears to be a fat, white arm.

STANTZ

He's about to go into shock.

				     STANTZ
				(babbling)
			It can't be!  It can't be!

COLUMBUS CIRCLE

The thundering footsteps continue to plod as the thing starts to emerge
from behind the buildings.  Now we can see part of a blue garment covering
its enormous chest.

STANTZ

He recognizes the monster.

				    STANTZ
			It's ... It's ... It's the STAY-PUFT
			MARSHMALLOW MAN.

Winston, Venkman and Spengler gape.

THEIR POV

They look across the roof tops and see a large, square, white, bobbing,
laughing head atop a massive body of similar puffed white squares.  The
being is dressed in a tiny sailor's hat, red bosun's whistle and lanyard
and a little blue vest with a button undone in the middle revealing a
little white belly. It is the cute, quintessential American brand symbol,
looming as large as Godzilla.

				     STANTZ (V.O.)
				(desperately apologizing)
			I tried to think of the most harmless thing
			... something that could never destroy us
			... something I loved from my childhood.

THE GHOSTBUSTERS

They watch the Marshmallow Man plodding toward them.

				     VENKMAN
			AND YOU CAME UP WITH THAT?

				     STANTZ
			The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man!  He was on
			all the packages we used to buy when I was
			a kid.  We used to roast Stay-Puft
			marshmallows at Camp Waconda!

				     VENKMAN
			Great!  The marshmallows are about to get
			their revenge.

THE STAY-PUFT MAN

He plods relentlessly uptown toward the Ghostbusters' rooftop vantage
point.  The ground rumbles as his big, soft feet come down on the
pavement.

THE STREET

People are fleeing in panic as the marshmallow feet pad along kicking over
lampposts and mail boxes.

A CAR

The driver jumps out just before an enormous white marshmallow foot comes
down and flattens his automobile.

THE GHOSTBUSTERS

They stand there helplessly watching the laughing bobbing head of the
Stay-Puft Man as he comes toward them.

				     VENKMAN
			What now?

				     SPENGLER
				(adjusting his thrower)
			Full-stream with strogon pulse.

Venkman looks at Stantz.  Stantz shrugs.

				     VENKMAN
				(decides)
			I guess that's all we've got.

They step to the edge of the roof, moving like warriors now ready to face
the consequences.

Here is the scene from the movie:

Questions to ask to analyze the scene:

* What elements in the movie scene are the same as the script?

* What elements in the movie scene are different than the script?

* Regarding the differences, put yourself in the mindset of the filmmakers and speculate: Why did they make the changes they did?

* How did the changes improve the scene?

* Alternatively are there elements in the script, not present in the movie, that are better than the final version of the scene?

* Note each camera shot in the movie version. Which of them does the script suggest via sluglines or scene description?

* How does the script convey a sense of the scene’s tone, feel, and pace through scene description and dialogue?

* What ‘magic’ exists in the movie that is not indicated in the words of the script? How do you suppose that magic emerged?

I’ll see you in comments for a discussion of this scene from Ghostbusters?

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

[Originally posted March 7, 2012]

One thought on “Script To Screen: “Ghostbusters”

  1. blknwite says:

    I looked on web for script and could only find transcript. Actual movie deleted lines “marshmallows get their revenge” which is awkward and cheesy. I assume Bill Murray ad libbed that and “Now there’s something you don’t see every day” and “Ray has gone by by you guys”, “mother-pus-bucket” and “nobody steps on a church in my town”. Also the line “I’m terrified beyond rational thought”. These are great comedians and I love what they’ve given this movie.

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