The Fairest of Them All: A True Hollywood Horror Story


Sketch from 1999 Snow pitch

I was watching the revisionist Snow White boomlet (Mirror, Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman), having a somewhat vested interest in the phenomenon. But as happens so often on this blog, I started looking under rocks on the trail and discovered a deeper story behind the story, something that I will definitely have to look into.

But first, let me walk you through all of this backwards, since this is probably hitting you completely out of the blue. It all started when I read this news item, just a couple weeks ago:
Walt Disney Pictures, fresh from the billion-dollar success of "The Avengers," has canceled "Order of the Seven," a revisionist take on Snow White...Deadline tells us the reason is its way-out-of-control budget in the $150 million range or higher! Saoirse Ronan was attached to star as the female lead and the movie was supposed to be set in Asia with a Samurai theme.
This was a surprise to many people since this project was greenlit at the beginning of the year.
Walt Disney Pictures began work on a Kung Fu action-adventure flavored cinematic retelling of the Snow White fairy tale over a decade ago...

The Disney flick – long known as Snow and the Seven – was eventually re-named The Order of the Seven in Summer 2011, based on the logic that the project (back then) was only slated to contain a handful of allusions to the original Brothers Grimm story.Now, the title has been truncated to just Order of Seven, with all direct references to the tale of Snow White having reportedly been exorcised from the film’s current script draft.
Over a decade ago. Ah yes indeed. What else happened over a decade ago, actually just a couple months before Disney announced this revisionist Snow White project (that obviously had no script)?

Your humble host submitted a treatment to Disney and other Hollywood studios featuring-- you guessed it, Mable-- a revisionist, action-oriented take on the Snow White fable!

Now, this wasn't just me Hail Marying pitch letters around Tinseltown. My cowriter's sister-in-law worked for a big production house and wanted to strike out on her own as an agent. After my previous experience with the movie racket, I wasn't really interested in trying it again, but with an ambitious young go-getter looking for scripts, what did I have to lose?

She had the connections to get things read and I know for a fact that one of the connections she had was at Disney (I believe there's a fax of a coverage somewhere I'll try to track down). Since our pitch had to do with an iconic Disney character, she thought it would be right up their alley. Everything seemed to be going well, we got some good feedback and our aspiring agent was excited about the project's prospects.

But did I mention this was all going down in early September of 2001? Yeah.


My co-writer lived across the street from the World Trade Center--this project is indelibly linked to Lower Manhattan in my mind, since we did most of brainstorming sessions in his apartment overlooking the Statue of Liberty and the rest of it. He and his family were on the street that day and retreated to their summer house for sometime afterward to recover from an incredibly harrowing experience. Needless to say, no one was thinking much about movies.

The next thing I knew Disney was announcing their own revisionist Snow White project.

Disney apparently hopes to boost the international appeal of the film by casting well-known stars from China, Russia and Japan as the ancient warriors. Studio executives have already begun talks with local talent in those countries.

The project - which has been in development since 2002 - was originally written by Michael Chabon and called Snow And The Seven.

Yeah, Michael Chabon is interested in revisionist fairy tales and Samurais like I'm interested in Jane Austen costume dramas. I'm sure that was his baby. Never mind the title of our project was simply Snow.

I'd been down this road with my previous project--one minute I was being told my script was the talk of the Christmas party circuit and then all of a sudden everyone is rushing their own angel movies into production. But wait- there's more!


The following is from the Snow treatment that we sent out in 2001. You can read the whole thing online here. In our story, Snow escapes from a secret school in which children are trained to become the perfect agents- assassins, spies, you name it. Methods range from rigorous training and chemical and cybernetic enhancement to hideous forms of mind control (which Snow is subjected to before she escapes).
The time is the early 21st century and Snow is a student at a very unique institution known as the Academy. Its students are children, trained in the arts of espionage and covert warfare from a very early age. We are nearing graduation time, when graduates will be auctioned off to the highest bidders. The school is run by UBELA KONIGEN, formerly the East German Stasi's most legendary agent. The exercises Snow just performed were part of her final exams. Her specialty is infiltration and escape. Like all students at the Academy, she is well versed in all of the killing arts and weaponry and has an above genius IQ.
The Academy, the product of an alliance of Americans and former Communist adversaries. An escaped female super-soldier who was subjected to hideous mind control experiments. Any of this sound familiar? Browncoats?
It was at this point that she was sent to a government learning facility known only as "The Academy". While her parents and Simon believed the Academy was a private school meant to nurture the gifts of the most academically talented children in the Alliance (the uniting governmental force over all inhabited galactic planets), it was in fact a cover for a government experiment in creating the perfect assassin. While in the hands of the Alliance doctors and scientists, River was secretly and extensively experimented on, including surgery that in some way damaged her amygdala.
OK, maybe a coincidence. Maybe the same X-Men influence somewhere in the unconscious. I'll let it slide, given the context (plus I love Firefly).

But this Saoirse Ronan project got me thinking of a review I'd read of her previous film, Hanna. I haven't seen the film as of this writing (it's not on any of the streaming services I subscribe to) but what I've read (allegedly) alarms me.

It hits so many of the bullet points from the Snow treatment I've been wracking my brains trying to figure how a Vancouver film student could have possibly have gotten a hold of a treatment (the friend of a friend network can work miracles) making the rounds a decade before his film was released. That is, if this isn't all some insane coincidence, which I specialize in.


Reviewers praised Hanna for its "originality" (I could strangle somebody), combining fairy tale themes and visuals with action-adventure dynamics, understandably not realizing that we had done that ten years before.

Snow was peppered with idyllic fairy tale scenes, which were the dissociative fantasies Snow escaped to when she was under extreme stress. We later learn that she associates these stories with a happier time in her life:

BEAR
Yeah, but now you can go back to
your family.

SNOW
I don’t have one. The Academy’s the
only family I’ve ever known.

BEAR
Are you an orphan or something?

SNOW
That’s what I’ve been told, but I
seem to remember things and people
from when I was very young. I don’t
know if they’re real or just a
fantasy.

BEAR
Like what kind of things?

SNOW
I remember someone reading me
stories, fairy tales, when I was
young. It was a woman that I
imagined was my mother. I don’t
really remember what the story was
or what the woman looked like. It was
so long ago.



And from a review of Hanna:
Despite this bleak setting Hanna still has an innocence about her. Seeing a plane in the sky causes her to burst out with laughter. When her father reads to her the account of Laika, the first dog in space, she wishes somehow the animal wasn’t left to die in orbit. Later before bed, she pages through a book of, what else, fairy tales.
Hanna also made use of a driving score by The Chemical Brothers, a rather anachronistic conceit given the film's release date and the Brothers long-expired sell-by date. From the first paragraph of the Snow pitch:
SNOW is the sound of Jerry Goldsmith filtered through the Underworld and re-mixed by Fatboy Slim.
In other words, we were pitching a British techno soundtrack for the film back when such a thing was (relatively) relevant.


There's also the issue of the "Evil Queen" being an elite intelligence agent in charge of the program that created our heroine. We named her Ubela Konigen (pidgin German for evil queen) and the parallels were not lost on the New York Times reviewer:
And so, after the once upon a Finland time, Hanna and Erik part ways, embarking on an intrigue involving a C.I.A. operative named Marissa Wiegler and played with witty menace by Cate Blanchett. She isn’t the fairest in the land, but she seems the maddest and like the queen in “Snow White” sets her huntsmen (two skinheads and their requisite mincing boss) on Hanna, who pursues Marissa in turn.

Our seven dwarfs were a pack of luckless hippie hackers holed up in a broken-down Winnebago that Snow discovers after a harrowing escape through the desert. From the Hanna wiki:
She finds herself on the run in the Morrocan desert, where Hanna meets Sebastian (Jason Flemyng) and Rachel (Olivia Williams), a bohemian British couple on a camper-van holiday with their teenage daughter, Sophie (Jessica Barden), and their younger son, Miles (Aldo Maland). She sneaks into the family's camper-van and hitches a ferry ride to Spain, with the goal of reaching Germany.
There's much more, and I'll have more to say about all of this after I see Hanna in full. But let this be a word of caution to any aspiring screenwriters out there. Now, let me just say this could all be another wacky coincidence, the apparent writer of this film was apparently just a film student in Vancouver when he apparently wrote this script. Stranger things have happened and I've written about them on this blog.

But guess what else happens? People get ripped off. I remember reading an article in a screenwriters' trade magazine I subscribed to about how producers were secretly taping pitch meetings and using them to stripmine ideas for free.

Script-readers at studios are all aspiring writers themselves and have aspiring writer friends. They talk to their friends about scripts they've read. They probably rifle through slushpiles of pitches for ideas to steal. They have friends they pass ideas onto and make under-the-table deals so there's no paper trail.

Allegedly.

And those "hot unproduced screenplays" always end up getting completely rewritten by the Hollywood machine, as anyone who's read the original scripts for films like Jacob's Ladder and Hancock will tell you.

More to come.

NOTE: Before you comment, please understand there are plenty of films and cartoons and comic books that explored the same superficial themes we did in Snow; that was exactly the point.

The unique idea we were putting forward was marrying those themes to their thematic opposite-- the fairy tale of the lost maiden. We were constructing a commentary within the narrative, about the modern mythology that was developing around the super-girl.

This was the distinguishing characteristic of the script--the 'high concept'-- upon which its marketability was based. With Snow the elevator pitch was "Snow White as an action hero."

25 comments:

  1. Chris, I'll admit when I saw your FB post questioning the connection, my initial thought was "yeah, ok." But that only came from an initial twinge of jealousy, and a sneaking suspicion that once I read your account I would most likely agree. And sure enough, having read your account, I have to agree. It seems obvious that most of your ideas HAD to have been discussed and used by people connected to these projects. It also seems completely obvious to any long time reader of this blog that your understanding and experience of myth, history, and pop-culture is second to none, and when coupled with your creative talents, it makes it a no-brainer that most of your work HAS to be mined by aspiring as well as established Hollywood writers. The Sun is, as they say, all killer, no filler.

    Is there any silver lining to all of this?

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  2. Hey man,

    Look I heard yah! But there could be another explanation. First have you ever taken art classes or creative classes like studio where ppl in that class/studio sometimes come up with the same ideas as you. Like When calculus was discovered other ppl in europe other than newton did discover it at the same time. Its like tapping in to the broadcasting field in the either at the time.

    This doesn't mean your ideas aren't original etc but perhaps there is no such things as true ideas/creativity rather they are just vapors in the ether at the time being broadcast universally and those who are in the same creative thread pick it up and use it and build on it.

    Don't think I'm being indifferent to your post but just a thought to think about.

    Good luck on your goals in screen writing!!!

    Kugan

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  3. Dear and admired Chris! Hanna´s film pop up in my mind after a few lines before you showed in the interesting post... It is Clear that you are sailing in a powerful inner stream, and your ideas and visions are seminal.

    Few days ago I read the last post in the John Lash web metahistory.org http://www.metahistory.org/GAIA%20SOPHIA/GoddessRescue.php

    He wrote: "In the archontified world of the end of Kali Yuga, images of the docetic vehicle or nirmanakaya float up into the collective mind in caricatures slanted and colored by the filters of electronic media and IT. The most sophisticated version of such figures occurs in the Japanese manga, often starring a ninja girl gifted with occult powers. " and "It may be that the sleek iconic imagery of Japanese mangas prefigures the appearance that the wisdom goddess would assume as Kalki: the anatomically streamlined female ninja warrior. "

    Cheers !

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  4. Hey Chris,

    Your Snow pitch sounds awesome. Would loved to have seen it on the big screen. Having studied fairytales at uni, I can sympathize with how you must feel. I've been interested for a long time too in trying to marry fairytale themes to action, fantasy, sci-fi and horror genres.

    I loved Hanna and own a copy of the movie, but after reading your post I wouldn't be surprised if it was all more than a massive freaky coincidence. As wklaus23 states in a comment above,
    "it makes it a no-brainer that most of your work HAS to be mined by aspiring as well as established Hollywood writers."

    This wouldn't surprise me at all, Chris, since I believe your work on The Secret Sun is right on the tip of the cutting edge.

    But having said all that, it is also possible that very similar ideas can arise simultaneously but apparently independent of each other.

    Case in point, when I was 19 years old or thereabouts I was working on a novel that ended up sharing massive similarities to the popular 'Matrix' movie. My novel was more X Files, paranoid and horror influenced, but many of the specific story beats were there. Needless to say, after watching the Matrix I felt cheated; like the universe was playing a big cosmic joke on me. I abandoned my novel (which probably sucked anyway)and ended up reading more on simulacrum, Gnosticism and philosophy.

    I'm not certain that this is the case with your Snow script, as you were in a position to be actually ripped off, whereas I was just a kid who liked to write. I guess more research and musing on your part will lead you to some considered judgments one way or the other. But it really wouldn't surprise me if they stole some of your shit; I'm sure screenwriters and producers read The Secret Sun all the time.

    Either way, kudos to you for being a trailblazer, Chris.

    Peace

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  5. Basics of this exact plot are also in "Salt" which is what I first thought you were talking about when I began reading this entry.

    Although without experimentation, extreme brainwashing does occur and she ends up as a CIA agent... a double agent in reality... and doesn't know it until flashbacks begin to hit.

    Although some aspects of the plot have been changed, not enough to make it all that different in my honest opinion.

    Just some FYI in case you weren't familiar with it.

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  6. As I was reading your take on the film Hanna, Chris, I immediately thought about the scenes showing Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) interacting with Knepler (Martin Wuttke), the eccentric old magician and guardian of a Grimm's Fairy Tale themed house in an abandoned amusement park. How much more fairyland can you get? There is absolutely nothing subtle about this movie.

    What blew me away was that you wrote this posting without having seen Hanna. Wow, you certainly tener cojones to do that!

    I trust you know of what you speak, and we all have stories to share, I'm sure. The tales of mine are about what happened in Hollywood with my book, Tom Slick and the Search for the Yeti.

    But what got me was the coincidence in the timing. Last time, totally out of the blue, my son visiting from Boston asked me and his brother to go see Snow White and the Huntsman. I was absolutely blown away by how good it was. The fairyland in that film is the only location in the entire movie with any real "color."

    I wonder if we are in the midst of a wave of such films, all with strong female characters, not unlike the one in your Snow? Without thinking to long on this, I need only mention a handful I've seen: Hanna, Haywire, Salt, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Colunbiana. Even Salt has the secret academy of your Snow.

    The sky is raining strong fairyland women who have much to fight about and for. Your story is probably there in the mix, no doubt.

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  7. The Missing Girl (Persephone) narrative is certainly one of the most powerful and universal for a reason. I've been looking at Saoirse Ronan's roles (including Hanna) specifically in this regard.

    Altair: Lovely article. "The Aeon Sophia is a young and prodigious Divinity -- about 14-15 years old in Aeonic terms . . ."

    Hanna wears a shirt emblazoned with CG, or perhaps Galactic Center.

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  8. Hollywood has always treated written SF as a resource to be mined without fear of consequences, and I'm sure it's no different with unproduced screenplays. Years ago, my husband asked someone in the know whether they thought "These are not the droids you're looking for" had been ripped off from his own Villiers novels, in which Torve the Trog has the power to mind-fuzz his way past customs agents, and was told, "Oh, of course. Star Wars ripped off *everybody.*"

    Sometimes it catches up with them in a big way, as when A.E. van Vogt successfully sued Alien. Sometimes it just rates an embarrassed apology, as when David Gerrold admitted that sure, the tribbles must have been based on a subliminal childhood memory of Heinlein's flatcats. Some of the connections may never even have been pointed out -- like the extent to which The Matrix derives from both Henry Kuttner's "The Cure" and Rog Phillips' "The Yellow Pill."

    And of course you hear a lot about the counter-examples, like that poor deluded woman who sued J.K. Rowling for plagiarizing her own book that included both "muggles" and a character named "Larry Potter." But cases like that one, or the childhood-recollection ones, simply serve to cover up the fact that Hollywood rips off writers, does it all the time, and for the most part does it with impunity.

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  9. Hey Chris! Yo HO! I did see HANNA and it seems to me you need to have a chat with Harlan Ellison's copyright lawyer. If Harlan could get a cut of TERMINATOR based on his antedated OUTER LIMITS script "Soldier", you should at least have gotten a credit for the Grimm's fairy tale elements that start and finish HANNA.

    The theme park shoot out at the end sort of clinches it. At that point even I was impressed (because most of HANNA is a let down). But the explicit old-fairy-tale-finale tells me they filched something vital, probaly from you. You'll see when you view it. HANNA even punctuates the final duel with a quote from the first hunt scene "I just missed your heart!" Too cute. Or maybe their little in-joke for a story they cut/pasted shamelessly?

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  10. I haven't seen any of the above mentioned "Snow" films,but they are now on my movie hit list starting with Hanna.
    My Spidey senses are tingling like mad to the vibs that your plot has been mirrored by Hollywood big-time.

    Talking about getting dreams turned into reality,for all you music lovers and sync heads like me that come to this blog,a fellow sync blogger and his band are trying to raise $5000 to get their first album made.They have raised
    $3737 dollars as of this comment and are so close to making it by the June deadline of the 14th.
    If you want to help out,go to their Kickstarter page and throw some coin in their guitar case.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/innis/its-not-night-its-space-and-their-first-lp

    I did a post which has some of their music You Tubes.
    Very Floydish music.

    http://brizdazz.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/its-not-night-its-space-9-days-left.html

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  11. More proof positive that Corporate Hollywood is in major decline. What's next? Movies(more) based on reality TV shows? I see Hollywood facing the same dilemma as the Corporate thugs of the music industry and the print media: a consumer revolt!

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  12. Hey again, Chris

    I just read your Snow treatment in full, and man, it sure does seem that Hanna shares a ton of similarities with it.

    Whereas your treatment seems like a full-on action fantasy (it's totally badass, by the way) Hanna plays like a more subdued thriller with a few action elements. But what makes me take notice is the overall vibe and back-story of Hanna that shares so much with your Snow treatment.

    It kind of feels like Hanna had all overt references to Snow White removed for some reason, whereas your treatment celebrates them. Almost as if someone was trying to distance themselves from your treatment, at least to a degree, but still wanted to keep much of the vibe and many of the plot points.

    In Hanna the fairytale themes are hardly covert, and yet Snow White seems conspicuously absent. In Hanna Marrisa Wiegler is referred to as a Wicked Witch more than an Evil Queen, which kind of makes no sense considering all the other references to snow - like they're substituting an Oz reference where a direct Snow White reference would make infinitely more sense.

    Why is that? Maybe because there was something underhand going on in the creation of the Hanna story? Just food for thought. Also, I wanna hang out with the D-7 from your Snow treatment!

    Peace

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  13. I have a friend who's got a theory about this phenom, basically it goes like this: anyone with an 'original' idea has about 6 months to do something with it before the collective subconscious shops it around to a new host.this is by no means me excusing you getting yer shit ripped off, Chris. just a thought that crossed my mind while reading your post that it thought worth sharing.

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  14. Raj, when I read the Hanna script it was like someone said "this is a 200m dollar movie. How can we do this on a low budget?" The thing I'm looking at is plot points in sequence, how certain things happen in a certain order.

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  15. Guys, I'm very busy today but thanks for your comments as always. Keep 'em coming!

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  16. Chris,
    I agree with above commentor Rick about the collective unconscious shopping around ideas giving each of us a 6 month option. For about six months I was tentatively shopping and tweaking a script that cast witches and vampires against each other fought like a gang warfare. It was called Underworld and I'll never forget when I saw that "Underworld" had sold and was set up to be produced. And we did it in parallel. And then a couple of years ago I pitched a Godzilla concept to a company that had acquired the rights to Godzilla - as a story premise since they already had writers attached. Then they decided to do a second monster film which seemed really similar. Did I get poached? Probably not. But your idea is different since yours is extremely specific. That said your blog is a wealth of inspiration for people who write or want to break in. I would never steal your ideas but your take on Michael Clayton alone is packed with inspiration for 5 more scripts. Maybe we need a kickstarter for a Chris Knowles comicbook publishing company

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  17. The funny thing is that I was talking to Steven today and he reminded me how I came up with the whole action hero as fairy tale angle, since his original idea was very Cyberpunk. I told him it was "too William Gibson." And then of course The Matrix becomes the smash hit of the universe a year later...

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  18. We also spent a lot of time talking about this stuff because he was very much into The Uses of Enchantment at the time...

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  19. When I was about eleven or twelve and proud ubergeek, and holder of an adult library ticket( I had read all of the junior library and my mother requested an adult ticket for me,which in the seventies was considered fair enough)I asked my mother why it seemed that my ideas were being used elsewhere before I was in a position to use them....She sat me down and explained the collective conciousness to me and as above, Rick and Robots comments,I understood the concept.

    I have a friend who believes in the six month concept,though he does give a timeframe of a fortnight on some stuff....I wont go into it here ,but we do this for fun sometimes and see how long it takes for the universe to spit something back at us...
    It almost always works.

    It is good that you have proof of your idea,It means you have proof of your idea! ha!
    And you will have many more.

    As I began reading your article I also thought of Hanna..


    PS
    I reminded and recounted the story of my mothers explanation of collective conciousness a couple of years ago and she did not have a clue what I was talking about.!!!!!!!!!!

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  20. This stuff about the Collective Unconscious is very interesting but after having read the first draft for Hanna I'd have to say it's not at all what happened. I'm wondering if I shouldn't be talking not only to a lawyer but to a private detective. I'm wondering why a low budget movie that wasn't a hit inspired such a big PR junket establishing the time and date that this script was allegedly written.

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  21. Chris,

    I do not know if this has come up any where on the blog, but. As we were told in film school, register with the WGA first.

    Get a copyright lawyer and a few other legal types behind you. Takes money obviously. However, I cannot stress enought the lawyer and the WGA.

    Just read through this, if you want to get a few ideas.

    John August and Copyrights

    I find his and Craig's podcasts vey useful, informative.

    Be well,

    Laurence

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  22. Hey again, Chris

    I was just discussing your post with my girlfriend and something occurred to me. I may be needlessly complicating things here, but it feels worth mentioning.

    In 'Hanna' the German aspects are pretty blatant. And even Marissa Weigler's name sounds German. In the movie it's never mentioned if Blanchett's character is actually German, but to me it seems kind of implied...seeing as she speaks perfect German, a chunk of the plot takes place in Berlin, and she's a CIA officer.

    But what occurred to me is that in 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' Blanchett plays Irina Spalko...who to me seems to be a virtual carbon copy of your Ubela Konigen character. Am I making something out of nothing here, Chris? I mean, she's the Soviets most deadly, legendary agent.

    Now, I know that such characters are fairly archetypal, but considering that the Indiana Jones franchise up to that point featured Nazis as the main villains it's not much of a stretch to imagine Irina Spalko as a Stazi officer with a superficial change of name and accent.

    Again, maybe this is just some freaky coincidence, or perhaps it's a kind of synchronic confirmation that you're on to something, Chris. Now, I know Blanchett tends to play otherworldly characters, a la LOTR, and would be a good fit to play an almost-supernatural villain, but it feels like there's something strange here.

    Not to mention the fact of Eric the Huntsman from the recent 'Snow White and the Huntsman' is basically Erik the Hunstman/father from the Hanna movie, and yet Marrisa Weigler is referred to as a witch rather than an Evil Queen. And as I stated in my previous comment it would make much more sense in the context of 'Hanna', unless someone was trying to superficially distance themselves from something.

    Thought it was worth sharing.

    Peace

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  23. Laurence- Thanks, man- we did this thing all wrong but we were both really busy at the time and Steve's sister-in-law was really jazzed about the project. And now we're scrambling to track down 11 year old emails. I don't know how much recourse we have at this point.

    Raj- Oh, East German Intelligence is explicitly named in the original Hanna script. This Marissa character obviously seems to have undergone some cosmetic surgery, if you get my drift. I read through the Hanna script- I literally felt ill afterwards. Literal room spins. If this guy wasn't at a major film school filled with Hollywood functionaries, I'd chalk it up to the Collective Unconscious or whatever. Now I'm thinking Watergate.

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  24. To all aspiring screenwriters out there: there are a handful of ways to play the game.

    1. Move to LA when you are young. Get involved with the business. Make a ton of friends. Work your ass off in a big studio or agency. Get connected. Hang out every night in clubs with Those People. Wait around for five or ten years until you get your break. Work your ass off some more. Make more friends. Become "unscrewable."

    2. Get a BFA/MFA from an expensive place like USC, UCLA, Yale, NYU, someplace that will cover your ass, protect your ideas, get you a serious agent, and sell you to the Big Boys. This is not the most protected position but it's better than nothing. Most people coming out of those institutions will get very little or no support at all, so while you're shoveling over Dad's $50K per year, be sure to hit your knees and pucker up every time a Senior Professor wanders into your radar. Can't be too much of a Political Animal in those environments.

    3. Make it seriously big in New York or London as a playwright. Wait for all the LA slaves to come slavering to your door. They view playwrights as "real artists" and they are DYING to suck successful playwrights into the Machine and grind them into powder -- all with the very best of intentions. Hang around with fellow (envious) NY playwrights and whine about the fact that your scripts never get produced. Go back to your $1.5 million 2 BR apartment and pity yourself. Wonder why you can't write plays anymore. Collect another re-write check for $350K. Go to your Tuesday night French class at Alliance Francaise. Take another holiday in Menton. Pick up topless French girls on the beach.

    4. Become an advertising director in NY or LA. Hang out at every night with Those People. Work 24 hours a day for 10 years. Protect yourself with heavy lawyers and agents.

    Off the cuff, I'd say 90% of working writers have made it in one of those ways. There are flukes (like NY indie types from the East Village scene, most of whom never made a dime) -- but you have a very small chance of being one.

    The way NOT to handle your screenwriting career is to hang around in New York for 25 years submitting treatments to small agents and pals, hoping vaguely that your personal One-Armed Bandit will finally gack up three apples and splash filthy lucre all over your feet. (Ask me, I know.) If the Machine did just accidentally happen to grab ahold of your idea, they wouldn't even consider it a "theft" -- who are you? Just Some Schmuck from New York.

    It helps to PROTECT YOUR IDEAS. Register with the Writers Guild. Copyright at the Library of Congress. Mail a sealed copy to your lawyer. Email it to your lawyer. Get another lawyer. If no agents will talk to you, get yet another lawyer. If your agent is not with William Morris or similar, get yet another lawyer. But even with all this, you can still be ripped off.

    Much better to move to LA, insert yourself into the industry, and make a ton of friends.

    Good luck, Christopher. Let us know if your lawsuit comes to anything.

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  25. Commenting on a previous comment: Germany is the home of NATO, which de Gaulle kicked out of France. There were at least 7 assassination attempts on de Gaulle. One was acknowledged by the CIA.

    The recent NATO conference in Chicago put that city on fascist lockdown, with "pre-crime" arrests of activists under "anti-terror" statutes. Check out Rahm Emmanuel's personal and family history for a better understanding of who is running Chicago.

    NATO now includes Afganistan and Iraq. These two countries are nowhere near the North Atlantic.

    So if "Hanna" is referring to mind-controlled assassin programs coming out of Germany, it's talking about NATO.

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