Read the pages here.
As soon as I read the word Nietzsche in these pages, I got a sinking feeling, remembering the stiff and terrible David Cronenberg film, A Dangerous Method (2011), about Jung and Freud.
But from what I know about Nietzsche, the potential for cinematic conflict and a truly interesting main character completely dwarfs that of Jung and Freud combined. So these pages intrigued me.
What these pages do right: the format, the presentation, the pacing – all is well in cinemaland.
I only have two minor notes and one major note.
The minor note: the calling card on page one needs context.
That is, let’s see whose name is on the card, and juxtapose it with Nietzsche looking at a poster for Wagner on the train station wall. Otherwise, I hit a speedbump by thinking Nietzsche was meeting with Overton. I know it’s strange, but because of the FIRST AND LAST NAME you gave to Overton, and the fact that he’s the first person introduced to us once Nietzsche steps off the train, it took a few seconds to set my head straight.
If this story is going to focus on Nietzsche’s relationship with Wagner, I suspect that Wagner’s fame (e.g. the poster suggestion) should be more saturated into the screenplay from page one.
The next minor note: A hint of trouble from Nietzsche’s sister, indicating some sort of conflict at home would add more dynamism to the rather pat goodbye scene at the train platform. And if Nietzsche is as famous or controversial as evidenced by the characters’ reactions in Switzerland, perhaps a hint of that should come out there on the platform in his home(?) town. An awkward look from a passerby, the sister saying “You’re leaving all that behind now” or something. His controversy/fame seems to just need to be established on page one, as it seems a bit out of the blue once the audience is asked to believe in it once he’s in Switzerland.
And my major note is more of a meta-note:
This fascinating character, with tons of cinematic potential (his hellish life, his relationship with Wagner, being inextricably weaved in with the foundations of Nazi Germany (either willingly or unwillingly, as I don’t know personally)) – all of this about him could make a really awesome, high-caliber dramatic film. Or you can do a standard, run-of-the-mill biopic.
My advice is to take license. Nietzsche deserves the opportunity to rattle our cages, here, a century later. Harness the spirit of his life and intentions and his words to tell a good story; don’t get bogged down in the historical accuracy of his life. Rattle our cages first, with his own words, and tell his life’s story second, and you’ll say more about Nietzsche’s life and work than just telling his story.