Sheila Pell 2:36 p.m., April 24
Unmakeable: All Sales Final
Big Screen wants your ideas for films that could never be made
You all know about The Black List, Hollywood's declaration of love for various scripts that have not been made...yet.
We here at Big Screen (definite articles are so pre-Mayan apocalypse) are starting up a list of our own - a list of film ideas that, for one reason or another (besides being simply terrible), could never get made. But instead of calling it The Puce List or something similarly distasteful, we're calling it Unmakeable. And we'd love to hear from you.
Here: I'll start. Here at Casa Lickona, our Christmas dinner conversation turned, as it does, to human sex trafficking. Here we have a major issue of world significance, but also one that hits close to home. Because movies are my job and I'm a horrible person, I started thinking of recent films that touched on the issue. You had Hostel, of course, but that was set far away, and ultimately, more about violence than sex.
Hey, you got your violence in my sex!
You had A Serbian Film, but that was also far away, and so superhorrific that almost nobody saw it.
Hey, you got your sex in my violence!
And you had Taken, but that was more of an action flick than a searching drama, a chance for a white, middle-aged dude to reconnect with his family by saving his virginal daughter from filthy foreign types.
Whatever made you think you could mess with Jedi Aslan Zeus and get away with it?
I thought about it a while, and the only thing that came to mind and resonated was the shot of caged Tutsi women in Hotel Rwanda.
How about something that still has action but goes a little darker? Okay, a lot darker. Open on a desperately poor Mexican man with a dead wife, too many mouths to feed, and no reason to hope that he'll be able to feed them. His oldest, a 15-year-old girl, is beautiful, but has grown distant and hard: she's had to act as a mother before her time, and the constant want has taken its toll. It doesn't help that Dad, unable to bear the pain of his situation, has taken to drinking away what little he makes.
Oh clip art, is there no stereotype you will not reinforce?
Every month, a man passes through the village. Everyone knows why: he's looking to buy pretty young women and take them north to America.
Sort of like this guy, only much, much worse.
The youngest child - the one who reminds Dad of Mom, the apple of his eye - takes sick. Dad makes a huge effort to save enough money for medicine. He prays for a cure. But the medicine comes too late, and the child dies. Dad curses God: all his money is gone, and there is no help from heaven. The next time the man passes through the village, Dad decides that nothing is forbidden in a Godless, indifferent universe, and he sells his oldest daughter for a fat roll of bills. He goes out and gets drunk.
When he wakes in the morning, the horror of what he has done hits him. He tries to contact the man to give the money back, but he is told that all sales are final. He resolves to go and get his daughter back by any means necessary. And he vows he will not spend any more of the money, which weighs on him like The Ring weighed on Frodo. He must take it back to its source and get rid of it.
Only this time, Mount Doom is an evil dude who makes teenagers into sex slaves.
That brings us to the "fun" part of the movie - Dad leaving his children with a relative and setting out to break into America, find his daughter, free her from her new masters, and bring her home safe. Throughout his journey, he will be tempted to spend his flesh-money - it would make the task so much easier. But he cannot. Finally, he rescues her, but not without cost, and not without blood.
And of course, she isn't very glad to see him. No Taken-style "Thank you, Daddy!" here, because Daddy's responsible for everything that's happened to her in the interim. Think The Searchers with a little bit of Lonesome Dove thrown in.
But it doesn't matter. He has to bring her home. He knows that he will spend the rest of his life making his mistake up to her, and that it will still never be enough. But it doesn't matter. He will do it.
Phew! Wasn't that fun? Of course, it will never get made. What audience would be able to root for a man who had done such a terrible thing? And yet...
Anyway, now it's your turn! If you've got an Unmakeable idea, write it up and send it to us at mlickona AT gmail DOT com.
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