I believe the terror of the event will be enhanced by how real and natural locations appear. Nothing should be stylized, we should be watching a real crisis unfold. Two films that have done this well are UNITED 93 and THE WAVE. The recent film VICTORIA looked cool, but I don’t think it needed to all be one shot - it didn’t add anything and diluted the action. Reality is the key – this could happen to any of us.
THE ZOO ITSELF
Zoos themselves are usually depressing, run-down and controversial with unhealthy and sick looking animals. Zoos are overused and in disrepair. Zoos are created to entertain humans, but usually damage animals. This works as a metaphor. A run down zoo suggests run down humanity. Imagine channelling the photography of Gaston Lacombe to show how miserable animals look in zoos?
I was quite surprised that the book does not offer even one encounter with a deadly animal, let alone make strong use of the animals in general. Joan picks up a shard of glass when she sees a monkey, but that is it. Again, think of this fucking metaphor! There is a shooting in a ZOO. Humans are being kept captive in a ZOO. Animals are hunters and prey, and now we have humans as hunters and prey? If Joan and Lincoln came into contact with an animal would it try to attack them? If the animals see dead humans how would they react? And when Joan and Lincoln see the dead animals, there is room to elaborate visually. The philosophical impact is powerful and unusual. This must be explored and incorporated, otherwise the film could take place at a theme park, or a mall, or a store. I want to fully utilize the setting, these animals.
BEAUTIFUL THINGS takes place in shadows. Most of this story takes place at night, and Joan spends a lot of time trying to disappear in darkness between pools of light. The light is an important character, the darkness the only safety. I am haunted by the shadows of the enclosure she hides in, the light around the vending machine, the light that Lincoln turns on in the snack bar, the pools of light she must run through on the train tracks. This constant pull between hiding in darkness and having to enter the light can also be a comment on good and evil.
In contrast to the realism and grittiness, the book hands us one surreal (and fun) element - it’s October, the Zoo is decorated for Halloween, and there is nonstop Halloween music blaring. The zoo becomes a haunted house, and it gives us a way to organically work with diegetic music. There’s a lot of potential here.