Script vs. Screen: THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
One of my favorite exercises is to analyze great movie scenes, then go back to the script and see how similar (or different) it was on the page. This can provide a fascinating insight into what gets added with performances, editing, and music.
One of my favorite examples is from THE AGE OF INNOCENCE by Martin Scorsese. During the pivotal midpoint scene where Archer confesses his feelings to Count Olenska, he becomes upset at her refusal. The script details him breaking a vase of flowers and yelling:
In the finished movie, this moment was removed entirely. Scorsese and the actors wisely chose to accentuate the emotional tragedy rather than anger. What remains in the film is tender and desperate –– but never violent. The script also conveys the scene as more of a linear progression, but the finished film –– through music and editing –– presents the last part as a fleeting montage of desperation.
Another prime example is the ending. In the script, Archer stays seated after his last vision of Olenska:
In the finished film, he gets up and walks away. This is a very simple blocking change, but staggeringly effective. It enhances the entire ending of the film:
Scorsese probably came up with this on the day of shooting as a means to externalize the character's decision that he can never go back to the way he was. It's extremely powerful, and it wasn't even in the script!