Robert McKee's MISS JULIE MONTGOMERY Spiral-bound Screenplay

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Part Number:36-2-1
  • 113 Pages
  • Robert McKee - October 2008
Original Screenplay by Robert McKee
Inspired by the One-Act play Miss Julie written by August Strindberg 1888

A Review and Synopsis of Robert McKee's screenplay "Miss Julie Montgomery" 

Inspired by the one-act play written by August Strindberg in 1888, McKee's screenplay recasts Strindbergs Miss Julie in an interracial love story set in the deep south during the civil rights era of the 1960s. Optioned several times but never made into a film (at one point due to controversial racial content), the story begins in the more languid times of the 1940s with southern ladies and gentlemen sipping mint juleps on the lawn, and with what McKee refers to in his books and lectures as the inciting incidentthe essential kick-start to any compelling story. A black boy and the rebellious young lady of the manor, Miss Julie, have an encounter so mortifying it will follow the boy into adulthood. (It's worth noting that almost 40 years ago, McKee wrote a scene unmistakably reminiscent of the unforgettable opening scene of the Academy Award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire.)

Skip 20 years, and John is now butler to Miss Julie's father, a prominent judge making his way up the political ladder. The tension mounts from the moment the professionaland racialbarrier between John and Julie is crossed until it inevitably (although we never cease hoping otherwise) culminates in a rapid fire explosion of shocking and tragic scenes.

McKee's Miss Julie Montgomery is a prime example of what a screenplay can and should be. It reads like a fully imagined novel, McKee's descriptive yet precise prose transforming language into a film in the minds eye. It is as if McKee has completely envisioned the story in his imagination and plucks just the right words to artfully bring it alive, while swiftly carrying the reader up and over his narrative arc. He sets the scene from the wide lens to the most exquisite detail, from the grand curving staircase and mammoth chandelier to a prism in the window that breaks the sunlight into a spectrum. McKee goes far beyond describing the scene, dialogue and action. He provides insight into nuances of character that only the most deft actor, director and cameraman could conveythe indicator that a writer knows his characters inside and out, the emotions that lie behind their words and behavior, the experiences that have made them who they are. It is the writing of a novelist, who has to create an entire world to convince us to believe in it and be moved by it.

Not only is Miss Julie Montgomery a pleasure to read and a work of art in and of itself, but it also illustrates McKees teachings in actual screenplay form; it allows us to see his understanding of the craft translated into a finished workwhich, ultimately, is why we hungrily read his classic tome, Story, and attend the Story Seminar. Miss Julie Montgomery is proof that McKee can walk his talk.

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