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Date: 10/3/03

Subject: Character Development

Character Development:

The Ghost And The Darkness


William Goldman's screenplay for the film, "The Ghost and The Darkness," uses the concept of duality to define Colonel John Patterson (Val Kilmer) and Remington (Michael Douglas), two characters who battle a pair of man-eating lions that are killing members of a bridge-building crew in Tsavo, Africa.

Duality means that something is interpreted as being composed of two parts.

In "The Ghost and The Darkness," two ferocious lions represent the two parts that help define the characters.

When Remington, a hunter, is summoned to Tsavo to help Construction Engineer John Patterson kill the lions, we learn that, like the lions, both men are similar in nature and are more effective when they work together.

Both men have a love of family and of Africa, and both men believe in the idea of bringing together two worlds by building a bridge that will "bring land over water."

In one scene, Remington discovers that Patterson had built a spring-loaded enclosure that could trap lions in full view of hunters who could kill them.

Remington had built the same type of trap on a previous occasion. Even though this type of wildlife trap didn't work for him or for Patterson, Remington says that the concept for the trap is good.

So, both men share a similar mode of thought. And, like the lions, they can hunt together or alone.

When the two men kill one of the lions, the other lion gets revenge by killing Remington. Patterson then avenges Remington's death by killing the other lion.

So, in this film, the actions of Remington and Patterson mirror the actions of the pair of man-eating lions.

This duality helps us understand the motivations of the characters, and, in that way, fully develops the characters.

Screenwriters should use the concept of duality to help develop characters and to help define the main conflict these characters must face and overcome.

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Would you like to create characters for your screenplay that captivate producers and directors?

Then has the answer. Our screenwriting exercise,
Character Development," will show you how to create characters that seem to have a life of their own.


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