PHAA – Plot and Character Break-Downs

Much as it has been throughout the development process, this is a two-character film, with a definitive start and ending, and the middle section consisting of a conversation between the two characters (complete with flashback scenes). The Eyes Of The Angel (TEOTA) will reference the old idea of the jailbreak. Peter Has An Angel (PHAA) will mark the start of the new idea. Things left a little complicated during my later posts on TEOTA, so this can be considered a fresh start of the new idea.

Plot

Act 1

A depressed student called Peter is walking by himself in a forest area local to his university when he accidentally stumbles into the path of a gothic / fallen angel. After exchanging words, it become apparent that both are at low points in their lives, and could use someone to talk to about their issues.

Act 2

Sitting on a log, Peter tells the angel about his fears of losing his family, losing his future, and losing the woman he loves. The angel sits prepped for giving him sound advice, but it becomes apparent that the experiences from which her knowledge is founded is a lot darker than Peter could have imagined. She tells him of her death at the hands of a serial killer, how it warped her soul, fueled her lust, and how it ultimately led her to lead an archangel to commit adultery in the afterlife, and thus leave her in limbo down on Earth.

Act 3

The angel wants to do good deeds to show that she is worthy of heaven, and she hopes that by helping Peter she may be able to return to where she belongs – her soul healed. Peter takes her advice – he calls his family up and talks to them, and then chases up women in different social circles outside of his regular friends. Peter returns one week later with a woman in hand (presumably not his original crush), happier and more at ease with his future. The angel is nowhere to be seen, though a lone black feather is found at the log where they sat, indicating that the events of the film did indeed happen.

Questions:

It will never be clear if the afterlife is the Christian ‘Heaven’ – just simply a heavenly-state, otherwise the angel will be openly helping Peter to chase up sex-before-marriage affairs, which could prove controversial (not to mention homosexual sub-texts – read below).

The woman Peter is seen with at the end could be his original crush, or a new girlfriend he chased up. Generally this is unclear on purpose, the angel solves his depression by simply telling him to make his crush jealous by flirting with other women outside his friendship circle.

The style of the film will start gloomy and depressing – de-saturated filters in post-production will do this (possibly black and white, possibly not – need for discussion). As the film progresses, the mood lifts, and the problems in Peter’s life become clearer, and he gains confidence about how to tackle them. After each successive topic is resolved, I will add saturation levels to the screen – gradually, the modd will become happier, culminating in a fully-coloured (if not OVERLY colourful) ending, symbolizing joy.

Characters

There are two main characters in the story, and here are their biographies:

Peter Hopsworth 

The Peter of the title is the protagonist of the story. He is a university student who is suffering from depression at the beginning of the film. Due to this, he takes long walks by himself in a gloomy forest area – the film starts with him walking through the woods on one such escapade.

Peter is twenty years old. He is facing the ongoing pressure of graduating from his university (which remains anonymous – for argument’s sake, we’ll call it Coventry University). Although Peter is the product of a middle-class family, his mum and dad have recently fallen into financial difficulties, leading to several domestic disputes. Peter feels he cannot talk to his family at the moment – being an only child, his parents are the only family he’s got. Their arguments play on his mind, distracting him from his work, which he feels will also affect his degree, and burden his chances of getting a better job later in life.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Peter has a crush on a girl called Rebecca, who has effectively ‘led him on’ for several months. Peter feels he is in love with her, but doesn’t know why she treats him the way she does. The obvious answer, of course, is that he has been led into a friendship that means it’s almost impossible to chase a romance with her, yet feels his friends have given him unreliable advice about ‘treating her mean to keep her keen’.

Peter is introduced as a fairly tall, good looking and confident character, who simply feels alone because he is isolated and has nobody to talk to. By talking to the fallen angel he finds in the woods, this problem is resolved – and with it, so is also resolved all the problems in his life (presumably).

The Fallen Angel / Amy Carter

The second character in the story is a much more mysterious entity. She is the ‘ying’ to Peter’s ‘yang’ – an anti-heroine, there to help Peter get his life back on track so she can return to the afterlife, and seemingly by accident. She is a welcoming but disturbed figure, and her character is one that is simultaneously cold and calculated, but caring of others. She is lost and haunted by the demons of her past that have demented her soul into purgatory.

The Fallen Angel started out as Amy Carter, a sweet eighteen year old virgin from an upper class family who is the sweet heart of her sixth form college. Ironically just on the verge of going to university herself, one night whilst walking home she is kidnapped, tortured, raped and murdered at the hands of a serial killer who became known as Benny ‘The Butcher’ Morrison. He claimed four more victims before he got caught and sentenced to life. She was his third victim.

What happens after her soul gets to heaven is only suggested. Heaven is a virgin paradise based upon rules of pure righteousness and innocence, where the detriment of one’s pleasure is seen as desirable. But for Amy Carter, her soul begins to want to feel loved. She had never had a romantic lover, and desires the ‘sins of the flesh’. Her craving is fueled by the way she exited her life, making her sexual desires dark and twisted over what she demands of her lover. She eventually crosses a nameless archangel, successfully seducing her and leading her astray. Whereas she (the archangel later transpires to be a ‘she’ – another reason to keep this separate from Christian beliefs as much as possible) faces her own punishment, Amy Carter is cast down to Earth, and left in the woods.

She considers the woods to be gloomy and spooky because the natural world around her is being affected by her mood. As it turns out, she’s absolutely correct. She wanders the gloomy woods, making them dark and bleak, and thus nobody walks into them any more. At this point, Peter Hopsworth does walk into the woods, attracted by the emptiness and solitude it brings to his depressed mind. The two run into each other, neither expecting any company.

It is important to note that Amy Carter did not start off as a bi-sexual, and nor does she ever label herself as such. The experiences after her death in the heavenly afterlife are based upon her time whilst she was alive – a desire to sate her lust, and this in turn led her away from the pure and innocent lifestyle that she had lived.

It is also important to note that Amy carter does not want to help Peter to further her own agenda, though she may appear that way at first. She genuinely wants to help him, and in return for changing his life, she feels like she genuinely is a good angel – a better person, finding redemption through the happiness of others. It can only be this that warrants the gloomy mood of the woods to lift, and lead to her apparent disappearance. This part of the story will be more suggestive though, enticing the audience to think for themselves about her supposed fate.

Themes

The main aspect of the story creates several other themes that feature in the conversation, which are explored in a little detail below:

Loneliness and Happiness

Both characters seem to share a common link – that both are unhappy because they have nobody to talk to about how they really feel. Peter is faced with uncompromising academia, with hardly any support from his family or any close friendships. Amy is faced with the hard and fast rules of an ethereal realm, which have condemned her to a doomed existence despite the horrors she has experienced. The general theme is that by having people to talk you, you can find happiness (namely, ‘two minds are better than one’).

Religion

A theme I am keen to avoid is a heavy dependance upon religion – particularly the Christian Bible. For a start, if she is a fallen angel who has been condemned from Heaven, but she is not an evil character, this means God is not forgiving. By the same standard, is appears that she has a sexual encounter with a female angel (important because this suggests a phobia of men after her death – interesting as she is helping Peter who is a man, which could in turn bring her some form of inner peace). If she is condemned more so because of lesbian feelings, this dresses Heaven and God as being homophobic. Perhaps the even more blasphemous note to take is that there are only select female archangels mentioned in the holy scriptures, and I’m pretty sure none of them would ever be seduced by a woman!

Stereotypes – Amy Carter is against the stereotype of what an angel should be, despite being well-meaning. This is reinforced by her lack of innocence, and yet her ability to help Peter without corrupting him any more than would benefit him. The notion of a ‘Fallen Angel’ becoming a ‘Guardian Angel’ is a rather nice thought.

Sex and Virginity

One of the main causes of Peter’s depression is his inability to find a lover. This is another common factor the two character’s share – they were unlucky in love, despite both being rather attractive. Ironically, the only lover Amy chose for herself landed her in extreme trouble. The script (although not yet finished) features a line where Amy warns Peter that is a terrible thing to die without having sated sexual desire – his soul will long to live again after he has died, crafting a haunted existence. It is also a sub-text that by freeing Peter to his own lust, she is able to somehow satisfy her own unfulfilled desires. She is indeed attracted to women, which explains how she is able to help Peter get inside the minds of those he is attracted to.

Originality – Don’t think the idea of two female angels getting close hasn’t been done before…

Sado-Masochism

In the darker parts of the story, it is suggested that Amy Carter’s unfulfilled sexual desires are of a more twisted nature because of the way she died. This leads away from being punished for having an affair with a female (a good thing), and also adds a sinister level to her character development. Peter suggests returning to the woods on a regular basis to keep in touch (but pragmatically hinting at entering into a possible relationship with the angel). Amy Carter smiles, but warns him that he must not ever chase a relationship with her, which is clearly not a reference to her desire for women (though this could also be interpreted as warning him to stay in the land of the living, rather than lust after her own spirit which is stuck in limbo).

Family Relations

Peter thinks his family are too busy worrying about their economic position to provide proper support for him – he loves them, and so all he does is worry about them. The problem is with lack of communication – he doesn’t think his family love him. Amy Carter, on the other hand, refers back to having similar feeling of her own parents, who simply bought her everything she wanted, but never really gave her love. After her death, her parents were grief-stricken for years – they always loved her more than anything, but perhaps did not know how to show it.

The Global Recession

Although vaguely hinted at at several points in the script, only the most attentive of viewers will find that this film is indeed contextually informed on the backdrop of the current economic crisis. The money is what causes Peter’s parents to fall out, bringing on his misery. The angel – when alive – came from very rich parents who were funded primarily by her dad, who was an investor in a major bank (unnamed). The intension of this little back-story is to make Amy Carter cemented as an anti-heroine in the modern day context – something that benefits the audience as to their own understanding of her character.

MONEY – In a film entirely based on characterization, I thought it good to add a hidden subtext about Amy Carter’s parents being linked to the crisis that has led to so much depression (including Peter’s). Perhaps by helping him get peace of mind to further his career, she is compensating for the mistakes of her parents as well.

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3 responses to “PHAA – Plot and Character Break-Downs

  1. Adam there is a depth of expression in your summary of the film that means I can’t wait to view it to see how well your depth of detail, especially regarding character motives and backgound will convert to film.

    • The film’s up! You can view it through one of my recent blog posts ‘The Final Cut’, or via the link below:

      If you want to wait for the big screen premier though, I got in touch with Richard and submitted it to Roots To Shoots for May 17th (the student special night). Looking forward to seeing my work at a cinematic event for the first time! 😀

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