A shot-by-shot breakdown of Bullet in the Brain

Richard Raskin

NB. In several montage sequences, including the one which opens the film (and which I am calling Shots 1-14), boundaries between individual shots can be difficult to detect. The shot breakdowns in these montage sequences should therefore be seen as approximations.

Shot 1
Shot 2
Shot 3
Shot 4
Shot 5
Shot 6
Shot 7
Shot 8
Shot 9
Shot 10
Shot 11
Shot 12
Shot 13
Shot 14
Shot 15
Shot 16
Shot 17
Shot 18
ANDERS: It’s not so much that what you’ve written is contemptibly bad. That’s almost a given.
Shot 19

Shot 20
What surprises me…
Shot 21
…is that you are able to find your way here every week… without assistance.
Shot 22

Shot 23
‘Cause on my way here today I actually had a thought. I realized that when the bulk of you fail
Shot 24
…as writers,.…
Shot 25
…only then will you really be able to understand the characters…
Shot 26
…you now blithely paint with these broad, smug strokes.
Shot 27

Shot 28
ANDERS: I brought a present for you all. Look familiar?
Shot 29
Shot 30
ANDERS: Picasso.
Shot 31
See you can’t sell us cubism or a blue period or any of that shit without the base.

Shot 32
Without the ability to tell it how it really is first. Without the ability to show us beauty on its face.
Shot 33
ANDERS (off ): You have the right to do what you want. More or less.
Shot 34
ANDERS: And attempt to sustain yourself in our collective vacuum.
Shot 35
ANDERS (off): And since we’re on the topic, people, go¬ing forward do me a favor…
Shot 36
ANDERS: and do not accost me with such a soulless arro¬gance as to think I should take your hard work as anything of value.
Shot 37
Work you could conceivably be paid to perform.
Shot 38
If you take nothing from here, understand that slipping the rough into the polished has to call you, not you it.
Shot 39

Shot 40
I’m fairly certain I cannot teach you anything.
Shot 41
Yet at the same time I’m fair¬ly certain you’ll keep showing up here each week of your own volition.
Shot 42
Shot 43
Shot 44
ANDERS: Do you believe?
Shot 45

Shot 46
ANDERS: Do you believe in the chance that you could be chang¬ed by something as timid as a word? The chance to move and be moved? The chance at salvation from the rational? Do you believe?
Shot 47
A bank guard closes and locks the door to the bank as Anders rushes forward toward it. Anders tries the door and finds it locked.
Shot 48

Shot 49
GUARD: Sorry sir, 3 o’clock.
Shot 50
GUARD: Bank’s closed.
ANDERS: Do you read?
Shot 51
ANDERS: I am begging you. It is as important to know not to write as it is to write
Shot 52
ANDERS: Can you read?
Shot 53
ANDERS (putting his wrist watch back on): There has to be an honesty, a truth in your words. They have to scream out to be read and that is the only thing that interests me. And I’m telling you now: I do not hear it!
Shot 54
ANDERS (off): There is a difference…

Shot 55
ANDERS:…between “The king died and the queen died" and “The king died and the queen died of a broken heart." And to you that is everything. And you’re showing me you do not even care to know the difference.
Shot 56
Anders knocks on the glass door demonstratively staring at the guard on the other side.

Shot 57
ANDERS: Your story must be wrought.

Shot 58
Again Anders knocks on the glass door demonstratively staring at the guard on the other side.
Shot 59
You must layer that broken heart. So the fabric of what you tell cannot exist without it.
Shot 60
ANDERS (off): And if you have nothing to say…

Shot 61
ANDERS (beginning to gather up his papers):… you can just tell me and I’ll arrange for you to get into some medical school. But do not make me suffer shit like this again. (Anders heads quickly toward the right.)

Shot 62
The guard opens the door for Anders, who enters the bank.

Shot 63
ANDERS (speaking with his back to the students as he opens the classroom door and stands in the doorway): And remember. No matter what they tell you. Life happens without applause. (He walks through the doorway.)

Shot 64
Anders triumphantly enters the bank
Shot 65
Anders gets on the end of a long line inside the bank
Shot 66

Shot 67
The teller closes her counter.

Shot 68
WOMAN ON LINE: Oh that’s nice. Just one of those little human touches that keeps you coming back for more.
Shot 69
ANDERS: Damned unfair. It’s tragic, really.

Shot 70

Shot 71
ANDERS: You know if they’re not bombing your ancestral villages, they’re closing their positions.
Shot 72
WOMAN ON LINE: Well, I didn’t say that. It’s just a pretty lousy way…

Shot 73
WOMAN (off): …to treat your customers.
ANDERS: It’s unforgivable, really. Heaven will surely…
Shot 74
ANDERS (off): … take note.
WOMAN: You know…
A commotion erupts off-camera.
Shot 75
WOMAN ON LINE: Well, I didn’t say that. It’s just a pretty lousy way…
Shot 76

Shot 77

Shot 78
ROBBER: Got a wife? Huh?
GUARD: Yeah. ROBBER: Do you love her?
GUARD: Yeah.
ROBBER: She love you?
GUARD: Yeah.
ROBBER: You be fucking smart.
The robber roughly pushes the guard away.

Shot 79
ROBBER: Okay people.
Shot 80
Shot 81
ROBBER: One of you tellers…

Shot 82

Shot 83
ROBBER: …presses an alarm button, you’re all dead meat. Got it?
Shot 84
ROBBER: Got it?

Shot 85
ANDERS: Oh bravo. “Dead meat." How do you like that?

Shot 86
Great script, eh?
Shot 87
ANDERS (off): You know, the stern, brass-knuckled poetry
Shot 88
… of the dangerous classes.
Shot 89
ROBBER: Buzz him in.
Shot 90

Shot 91
Without a warning, Robber 2 hits the bank guard in the face with his rifle butt.
Shot 92
The guard reels from the blow.
Shot 93
A customer gasps.
Shot 94

Shot 95
ROBBER: Uh, uh.
Shot 96
Robber 2 again strikes the bank guard…
Shot 97
…who now falls to the floor, unconscious.
Shot 98
ROBBER (off): Whose empty spot is that?
Shot 99
Shot 100
ROBBER: You? Okay good. Get your ugly ass…
Shot 101
ROBBER (off): …over there and fill up that bag.
Shot 102
ANDERS (turning again to the woman on line): There you go.
Shot 103
ANDERS (off): Justice is done.

Shot 104
ROBBER (to Anders): Hey. Bright boy.
Shot 105
ROBBER (off): Psst, psst.
Anders turns to look at him.
Shot 106
ROBBER: Yeah. I’m sorry but… was I taking to you?
Shot 107
ANDERS (turning back to the woman): Did you hear that?
Shot 108
She shakes her head “no."
ANDERS (off): “Bright boy."
Shot 109
ANDERS (off): It’s right out of “The Killers."
Shot 110
WOMAN (pleading): Please be quiet.
Shot 111
The robber approaches Anders.
Shot 112

Shot 113
BANK: Are you deaf or what?
Shot 114

Shot 115
ROBBER: You think I’m playing games here, because I’m not playing games.

Shot 116
ANDERS: No, no. “Thou speakest wiser than thou art aware of." (Anders laughs.)
Shot 117
Anders laughs again.
Shot 118

Shot 119
ROBBER (almost whisper¬ing): What the hell you lookin’ at?
ANDERS: Nothing.
Shot 120
ROBBER: No, the hell you were. You were looking at me
Shot 121

Shot 122
ROBBER (almost whisper¬ing): Yeah. Do you like me, by the way? Do you want to suck my dick?
Shot 123
Shot 124
ROBBER: Then stop looking at me. Okay?
Shot 125
ROBBER (putting his gun under Anders’s chin): Uh, uh, uh. Not down there.
Shot 126
ROBBER: Up there, right.

Shot 127
ANDERS (off – a statement made earlier): Do you believe in the chance that you can be changed by something as timid as a word? (Anders quietly laughs.)

Shot 128
ROBBER: Oh. What’s so funny, bright boy?

Shot 129
ANDERS: Nothing.

Shot 130
ROBBER: Do you think I’m comical? Do you think I’m like…
Shot 131
ROBBER: …some sort of fucking clown or something?
Shot 132
ROBBER: Then don’t fuck with me. You fuck with me again…

Shot 133
ROBBER (off): …and you’re history.
Shot 134
ROBBER: Capiche?
Shot 135
ANDERS (bursting into irrepressible laughter): I’m sorry, sorry, sorry.

Shot 136

Shot 137
ANDERS (off): Sorry, really.
Shot 138
ANDERS: “Capiche"?
Shot 139

Shot 140
ROBBER: Capiche?
Shot 141
ANDERS (off): Jesus Christ, you know…
Shot 142
…sorry, “capiche"?
Shot 143
Voice-over narrator: And at that, the man with the pistol shot Anders right in the head.
Shot 144
Shot 145
Shot 146
Explosion and reverberation of the gun shot.
Shot 147
Shot 148
Shot 149
Shot 150
Shot 151
Shot 152
Shot 153
V.O. The bullet smashed into Anders’ cheek and plowed through
Shot 154
Shot 155
his brain and exited behind his right ear.
Shot 156

Shot 157
After striking the cranium, the bullet was moving at 900 feet per second. A pathetically sluggish, glacial pace…
Shot 158
…compared to the synaptic lightning that flashed around it.
Shot 159
Once in the brain, the bullet came under the mediation of brain time…
Shot 160
…which gave Anders the leisure to contemplate a scene…
Shot 161
in a phrase he would have abhorred:

Shot 162
“Passed before his eyes."
Shot 163
…which gave Anders the leisure to contemplate a scene…
Shot 164
Fade to black.
Shot 165
Given what Anders did remember, it is worth noting what he did not remember.
Shot 166
He did not remember his first lover,
Shot 167
Sherry, or what he had most madly loved about her before it came to irritate him – her unem¬barrassed carnality, and especially they way she had with his unit, which she called…
Shot 168
…“Mr. Mole."

Fade to black.
Shot 169
He did not remember his wife whom he had also loved before she exhausted him…
Shot 170
…with her predictability.
Shot 171

Shot 172
He did not remember standing just outside his daughter’s door as she lectured…
Shot 173
…her bear about his naughti¬ness and described the truly appalling punishments Paws would receive unless he changed his ways.
Shot 174
He did not remember his dying mother saying that she should have stabbed his father in his sleep.

Shot 175
None of these things did he remember. Not one.

Shot 176
Shot 177-180 montage
Shot 181
Shot 182
He did not remember Keats, or Shakespeare or Herbert. He did not remember a single line of the hundreds of poems he had committed to memory so he could give himself the shivers at will.

Shot 183
Nor did he remember seeing a woman leap to her death from the building opposite his own, just days after his daughter was born.

Shot 184
Shot 185
He did not remember when he began to regard the heap of papers on his desk with boredom and dread.
Shot 186
Or when he grew angry at the students for writing them.
Shot 187
Shot 188
He did not remember when everything began to remind him of something else.
Shot 189
Shot 190
Shot 191
Of all this he remembered nothing.

Shot 192-193
What he remembered was simply heat, yellow grass, a baseball field.
Shot 194
Shot 195
The whir of insects as he trails…
Shot 196
…the other boys of the neigh¬bor¬hood to a pick-up game.
Shot 197
Shot 198
Shot 199
A couple of the others argue…
Shot 200
…the relative genius of Mantle and Mays.
Shot 201
They had been worrying the subject all summer. And it has become tedious to Anders.

Shot 202
An oppression, like the heat.
Shot 203
Shot 204
…the last two boys arrived – this one kid who lived near the dump, and his cousin from Mississippi. Anders has never met the cousin before…

Shot 205
…and will never see him again.
Shot 206

Shot 207
When they have chosen sides…
Shot 208
…someone asks the cousin what position he wants to play
Shot 209
And he says…
COUSIN (off): “Shortstop.
Shot 210
COUSIN: “ – short’s the best position they is."
Shot 211
Narrator’s voice-over: “Short’s
Shot 212
the best position they is."
Shot 213
Anders wants to hear the cousin repeat what he has just said…
Shot 214
… but knows better than to ask. The others will think he’s being a jerk, ragging the kid for his grammar.
Shot 215
Shot 216
Shot 217
But that isn’t it. Not at all.
Shot 218
Shot 219
It’s that Anders is strangely aroused – elated by those two final words, their pure unex¬pectedness and their music.
Shot 220
Shot 221
Shot 222
So, the bullet is already in the brain.
Shot 223 It won’t be outrun forever, or charmed to a halt.
Shot 224
Shot 225
Shot 226
Shots 227-232 Montage sequence
In the end, it will do its work and leave the troubled skull behind, dragging its comet tail of memory and hope and talent and love

…into that anonymous hall of commerce.
Shot 233
But for now Anders can still make time.
Shot 234
Time for the shadows to lengthen on the grass,
Shot 235
Shot 236
…time for the tethered dog to bark at the flying ball,
Shot 237
Shot 238
… time for the boy in left field to smack his sweat-blackened mitt…
Shot 239
Shot 240
Shot 241
…and softly chant,…
Shot 242
They is,…

Shot 243
they is,…
Shot 244
they is,…

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