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Just Read: The Brigands of Rattleborge

The Brigands of Rattleborge

written by S. Craig Zahler
Draft Dated 2006

Set in the days of the old West, a sheriff and a doctor seek revenge against three ruthless thugs who robbed them and terrorized the town.

I haven’t written a script review in a while, so I am finally going to write up what I thought about The Brigands of Rattleborge by S. Craig Zahler.

This is a very popular script. Many people love this script. Being so well received, I was very excited to sit down with a nice cup of coffee and take some time out of my precious day to read this popular lovable script. I don’t necessarily regret that decision, I think something can be learned from every script I read, but I have absolutely no idea why so many people enjoyed this script.  After I read this script I literally said out loud, “What the fuck did I just read!”.  I was even more perplexed after going online and finding out that everyone enjoyed the shit out of it.  Either I am alone in my dissatisfaction or people who don’t like this script simply don’t share their views online.

Just like my previous reviews, I will not go through the entire story and bore you with all the plot details, I will simply make a list touching on what I did and did not like.

The Good.

  • The writing in this script is absolutely phenomenal. Zahler’s ability at describing the characters and the world around them is extraordinary. I felt like I was reading a novel. If there is one reason to read this script it would be for the writing.
  • It’s very easy to make darkness and violence cheesy and laughable. This is a dark story, it’s a violent story, but the grit is written well and comes across as intended. If you don’t want a detailed description of a head being blown apart — don’t read this script.

The Bad.

  • Way to much exposition.  Seriously. What the fuck.  It takes 60 pages just to set up this story.  I’m still being introduced to new characters half way through the script and I literally have no idea what is going on. Who are all these people? Why do I need to know every person in this town? WHY AM I 60 PAGES INTO THIS SCRIPT AND THERE IS NO PLOT?! I don’t know how people got through half of this script before saying, “Well that’s neat… but what the hell is going on?” There was really nothing driving me to keep reading. You know that movie Open Range? Kevin Costner’s Western? Yes. Remember how the entire movie was super slow and boring until the very end when we have one of the most epic gun fights in movie history? That is kind of how this script is.  Except the gunfight at the end isn’t as good.
  • Who is the main character? We are introduced to so many people I had no idea who to invest my time in. Who should I care about? Who do I want to root for? For almost the entire script I had no idea who the main character was. This is bad… and the Doctor guy?  Am I supposed to care about him when I only learn who he is near the very end of the script? He could have been killed and I could have cared less.
  • I personally thought the very end of the script was dumb. I’m not going to give it away, but it came across very weak to me. That was it? Really? After 137 pages that is what you give me as a resolution? Come on.

The Verdict

I think I would love this script if you took the first 60 pages and crammed it down into 25 pages. That would be amazing.  Also, introduce a main character and let the audience know it’s the main character so that we actually have someone to care about. Introduce the doctor earlier as well. We are given intimate details on so many characters and none of them actually matter.  When the inciting incident doesn’t take place until half way through the script you have a problem. Make the storm happen around page 30. That would be amazing as well. Then you can spend the rest of the movie following around the two main characters and their quest to kill the bad guys. Now that sounds like a good script.  Maybe bring the Indians we meet at the beginning of the script back into the mix. We see them at the beginning and then never hear from them again.

I say READ IT. You’ll probably like it just like everyone else. I obviously have serious problems with it.

I bet many of my concerns with the script will be addressed in production. I doubt the actual movie will follow the obscure structure of this 2006 draft.

Just google this script and you will find a .pdf link to it.  Like I said, It’s very popular.