Lit and Crit:
BEACH BOYS : SMILE '67 - THE MOVIE
When I listen to SMiLE this is what I hear:
Ultra SMiLE '67: The Movie
I know Hollywood already did a Wilson Biopic recently that wasn't just made for TV stuff,
but SMiLE itself could carry a whole movie.
Here are some ideasmilliondollar
for how the story could best be told.
Ultra SMiLE '67: The Film - Beat Summary
by Kevin Salveson
This film takes place simultaneously across four different times and places: Brian as a teenager, Brian as the hero of a Hawaiian fantasy world, Brian in 1967 working on SMiLE in the Studio, and Brian in 2003 completing SMiLE. It has many aspects of magical realism in that often the settings, eras and characters bleed into each other without being noticable to the characters and there are many other fantastical elements taken for granted. In addition, many of the references made in the lyrics and musical content will be seen and heard in the fore and background throughout the movie, always hinting at the density of the libretto and musical information to be found in the work by Wilson and Parks. It may resemble, somewhat, the film Love and Mercy to be released in 2015 in that it conflates times and has magical realism type depictions of the creative process. Hell, they even start kinda the same in that they both start in bed reminiscing. Well, I guess, who wouldn't start it that way? But I assure you that I wrote this about five years ago and it sat on my hard drive under-developed. I had done several versions of SMiLE mixes before and recently I said to myself, time to update all this and throw it out there. So I wrote this before I saw Love and Mercy; any similarities (and there are not really more than what I mentioned) are unintentional.
SO: You're Welcome.
As the credits appear over the action, in the background we see Brian Wilson as an aged man in bed looking at home movies projected all around him, onto his sheets, his walls, and they sometimes break the fourth wall and become nearly three dimensional. As You're welcome becomes less reverbed and thus "closer" we see footsteps approaching as the credits roll. At the door appears an older Van Dyke Parks. He fetches Brian into a waiting Limo.
2. EXT-WESTERN STUDIOS / AL JARDINE'S HOUSE
We see the LIMO door open but the leg that gets in is a teenaged Brian Wilson leg and we suddenly see it is his parent's stationwagon he steps into. He starts off into the street and we PAN OUT to reveal SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA including Hawthorne sign, a shot of typical So cal beaches, cars, freeways, buildings. We PAN BACK to see Brian driving and pulling into Al Jardine's driveway. Al gets in and we also PAN IN on his leg. Time is compressed yet again as we see the same door open again and Brian steps out of the LIMO again. In front of him is a building with a sign reading United Western Sound. As the camera PANS IN on the word "Western" we FADE OUT and immediately CUT TO:
3. EXT-HAWTHORNE HIGH SCHOOL PARKING LOT. We follow a young Brian Wilson into the Hawthorne High School parking lot for his first day of senior year. There is the flash of sun off a VW Bus hubcap and other cars and chrome in the parking lot, a sign that says Welcome Seniors (Brian is 19 and a slightly older senior. This isn't quite historical but Smile is a music film with fantastical elements not a Beach Boys biography. Still, fans are always pleased when things match the historical record so this is to be kept in mind. We are introduced to several main characters in this scene, including Margarita, the love interest.
SO: Gee and Intro to Heroes and Villians.
As Brian drives he catches the eye of Margarita who is just getting out her bigger brother's car. There is a moment of SLO MO on Margarita's charming smile --maybe even an exaggerated fake sparkle-- simultaneously with the words "How I love my girl" on the soundtrack. We also see Dennis hanging out the window and shouting in the same direction, perhaps visible in the distance is Margarita's brother as the camera blurs the foreground after #4 below and we see RYDER in the background).
4. SFx: Echo reverb on "How I love my girl..." is broken when an apple hits the windshield of the car, bursting and popping us back into real time. It is revealed by changing lens focus that it was thrown by RYDER, the Bully and love antagonist for Brian.
5. SO: EXT-HAWTHORNE HIGH. Music speeds up to "Heroes and Villains" chorus and some of the heroes and villians are introduced as they arrive in the parking lot.
(brandishing raised fist)
Hey Wilson - I'm gonna make your ears ring!
Close Up: Brian wincing from behind Dennis, showing his feelings for the girl and the situation.
7. INT-BRIAN'S CAR. We see Dennis tying Carl's shoelaces together. Next we see Carl exiting the car and pratfalling.
8. SO: BELL ringing brings us to the Classroom
9. INT-CLASSROOM. We see PANNING IN the door that the teacher's name is MR. CROW. American History is Brian's first class. Mr. Crow is dressed and looks like a 1967 Van Dyke Parks.
10. MR CROW:
This year We'll go from plymouth rock all the way to the Sandwich Isles, that is Hawaii, and statehood this year, taking a special look at the concept of American Manifest destiny. Even if I have to go over it and over it with you to uncover the truth about American history!
SO: non-verbal humming parts of Little Pad start up and later it segues into Do You Like Worms (Roll Plymouth Rock).
AL JARDINE (sotto voice)
Hmm, I'd love a sandwich!
SO: The laughing in Little Pad.
11. INT-CLASSROOM. We see that Margarita the love interest sits a few sits a few seats behind Brian. MR. CROW / VAN DYKE goes into a description of Plymouth settlers life and the meaning of manifest destiny. Perhaps what he describes starts to appear before the class as his blackboard fades away and soon the classroom itself is on the beach. The chairs and desks remain and no one seems to notice.
12. EXT-BEACH CLASSROOM. Brain's mind starts to wander and he imagines he is a settlor at Plymouth, looking at an Indian squaw, who is played also by Margarita.
13. EXT- BEACH WESTERN SOUND. 1967. We also see the Beach Boys dressed up like Indians in the Western Sound studios, but through the studio glass we also see the beach at Plymouth in the background, until the walls also fade away. Up and out of his desk, we see teenage Brian casually stroll into the Western scene and say, "Ok, take it from the top," and then walks into the Plymouth scene. A whole non-verbal scene unfolds...Brian decides to use music to bridge the langage gap,. He comes upon them making music and the tune is the chanting part of plymouth rock that the made-up Beach Boy indians chant. They offer him some drums to play or other authentic instruments, and Brian offers a european one. However, the squaw's brother, who is played by the same actor who plays RYDER, takes the instrument Brian has offered and smashes it and tells the squaw that she must not make friends with the white man.
14. EXT- PLYMOUTH ROCK BEACH. 1967. The camera then PANS to the Rock area and we find that hippies (other students in the class) dressed up in faux hipster style Indian garb run over to the rock, find it is actually a small unimpressive boulder, and commence to try to overturn it with all kinds of funny objects including a spatula, a gun bent into a ploughshare, etc. But they really can't do it. We then PAN OUT even more to find that there is a 2003 layer of commercialized Tourist trap kind of stuff there as well. Meanwhile, through this, oblivious to it, we see Brian and Margarita run.
15. EXT-HAWAIIAN CABIN. Brian takes Margarita's hand and into a forest area. When they emerge onto the other side it is like the clearing on the cover of Smiley Smile. Here we find the HAWAIIAN CABIN which will play a big part in Brian's ongoing imagination.
SO: Hawaiian Chant portion of Do You Like Worms.
16. INT-CLASS. SO: BELL. The end of class bell rings, snapping Brian out of his reverie.
FADE OUT to imply that we don't see the rest of his day.
17. INT-WILSON HOME. We see the station wagon pull up, we see Brian and his mother and brothers enter the Wilson Home. He throws his bag on floor and goes to drink some milk right out of the carton in the kitchen. Dennis and Carl follow. Brian then takes his carton of milk and sits at the piano. He stares at the keys.
18. INT-SUNSET SOUND. 1967. We see Brian at the piano staring at the keys as well while the Wrecking Crew looks expectantly for Brian to teach them the next song. INT-SUNSET SOUND. We see Brian look up from the piano and when the camera PANS fully aeround we see that it is also 2003 and eldery Van Dyke and the rest of the Wondermints are standing in the studio awaiting his orders as well. Then the camera PAN takes us back to teenage Brian at the piano.
19. INT-WILSON HOME.
Hey Denny, watch this. (Plays first few notes of Wonderful). I'm gonna write a song and give it to Margarita for valentine's day.
Good luck, her brother's gonna pound you.
I'm gonna pound these keys.
MOM (approaching from OS)
Brian, I need a pound of hamburger for the cassarole I'm making for the PTA meeting tonight. Can you take a moment from pitching woo to go the store? Also, get some hot dogs for yourself and your brothers, this is for the ladies.
(He gets up and is heading out, then pauses to see on the TV that Carl has turned on some mention of the early problems in Viet Nam. President Kennedy is speaking).
We continue to work with President Diem and that means supporting their counter-insurgency with the best advisors America can offer. As I've said before, we shall bear the burden and pay any price to insure the survival of liberty. The fight against the Viet Cong does include the use of sprayed agent orange herbicides, but at this time our advisors feel..."
20. INT-WILSON CAR. Brian and Dennis are in the Car. Brian looks quiet and absorbed in thought as the lights of the street pass by and fall on his face. Dennis looks blank almost in a funny way. Finally, Brian speaks.
Listen to this. (Hums a lot of the Surfer Girl melody). I've been writing this in my head. For Margarita.
(Nods, doesn't really reply but is cool with it. Eventually he says what is on his mind too.)
I want to cut class tomorrow after fourth period. Redondo Beach is copasetic with beach bunnies, I'm telling you. (Smiles, gives bro type assurance nod).
(glares a little at Denny, who is suggesting he is going to cut class)
Little surfer girls everywhere.
Yeah? Surfer girls?
(Nods, more quiet ride).
Then quick cut to:
21. Quick cuts with extreme closeups of hot dogs being prepared, hot dogs sliding into paper trays, hands grabbing the dogs, hands forcing the food into their mouths almost comically, then cuts to senes of the front door opening, hands being washed in a sink, a book being cracked, a penciltip breaking, and then we PAN OUT to see Brian nearly asleep trying to get his homework done. We see that it is sheet music he is working on, with some of the notes and the title of Surfer Girl on it. We also PAN OUT from his PENCIL to see that he and Van Dyke are at a desk working on stuff, and then he can't keep his eyes open. BRIAN's POV: Opening and closing eyes. Each time they open it is a different ERA and he is trying to get music work done in that era with those people. Sometimes when he opens and closes he also sees Vietnam and also sees the vegetation of Hawaii as reminiscent of Vietnam, so for one blink his imaginary homestead is actually situated in the middle of a Vietnam ricepaddy. At least one blink shows the brutalities of war and another blink the faux-Indian hippies from the classroom/Plymouth Rock again who are now shown with combat helmets on and machine guns in their hands tromping trough the brush while other hippies hold anti-war protest signs like guns as well. Another blink and RYDER is shown portrayed as a Viet Cong soldier with Margarita in a hut behind him. Another blink and he's in Hawaii, another and he's back home, etc.
22. INT-HOME. VO: MOM: Brian, are you still up? Turn out your light, dear!
23. INT-BEDROOM. NIGHT. Brian nods and clicks out the light and climbs into the bed right by his desk.
SO: Our Prayer
(This is a tender moment which has him talking outloud to himself)
Oh god, I just want...(sigh) ...gimme just one chance with her. Just one. Plus... my own car...a Woody...." (He frowns a little at his selfishness). Plus, world peace.
Then he lapses into harmonization with Our Prayer.
24. INT-BEDROOM. Meanwhile, in the shadows of his room lights come up to reveal in one corner The Beach Boys in 1967 gathered around a few mics also harmonizing, and then they are joined by another lighted corner in the room revealing the 2003 Brian Wilson Band also harmonizing along. Pan in on Brian's sensitive moment.
25. INT-BEDROOM. NIGHT. The moment is broken near the end of the song when Murray busts into Brian's room and immediately rips the covers off the bed.
Brian, I heard Dennis say that you got into a little fight with someone at school today.
They threw an apple at the car, that's all.
Brian, that's our only car. We let you drive that car to school and pick up your mom today but obviously that is going away.
And another thing, why not try to do some more of the happy songs that you used to do? Why all of this hippie stuff? When I was helping you we were doing wholesome stuff!
(Draw some quotes from Murray's rambling at the Help Me Ronda sessions).
26. INT-SUNSET SOUND. Suddenly, this conversation is taking place at a confrontation between Brian and the rest of the Beach Boys and Murray at Sunset Sound in 1967.
Yeah, don't fuck with the formula!
This scene can obviously be developed based on some of their conversations of the time as detailed in various books etc such as the stuff by Dominic Priore.
* * *
....Ok, that is the script I hear when I listen to Smile. There's more to it of course and it needs some polish. I'm waiting on Brian's call before I offer it to anyone else, but if you want to make this script a reality fell free to give me a call, I have the rest of it ready to send to the right people (contact my agent via firstname.lastname@example.org)
As a little teaser, here's what I hear happening over the rest of the script:
1. Brian sets up camp in Hawaii and has a baby with Margarita. (With Me Tonight/Little Pad).
He becomes closer to a natural lifestyle. (The Elements: Air). He also continues to pine for Margarita at School while Mr. Crow introduces more historical themes. (With Me Tonight). The plight of the American indian is summarized by Mr. Crow during Indian Wisdom, and we see a trail of them leading all the way to the west coast along the transcontinental railway where they morph into coolies working on the rail while wearing VietCong garb, etc.
2. Fire! There is a fire at the school (a pep rally) as well as one in Brian's Hawaii cabin fantasy. This takes place the same day Mr. Crow is talking about the Great Chicago Fire. (Mrs. O'Leary's Cow). It even eventually rains and snows on his cabin and him through an open hole in the roof (Fall Breaks) but of course while this at first depicted as too bad there is the moment when Fall Breaks goes to a harmonically pleasing major chord without modulation, which can be shown that even the peacefulness of the snow in the sun is beautiful for a moment. At school he is able to sing "Surfer Girl" to Margarita, telling her he wrote it for her.
3. The Fire scene also encompasses a football pep rally bonfire. There is extreme sexual attraction between Brian and Margarita during this scene. Some of the Indians turn out to be the rival football team that they burn in effigy. However, at a climax in the feelings between them, just before they are to kiss, a teacher turns a hose on the bonfire and tells everyone to go home. There is the water chant while in Hawaii Brian also puts out the fire. They walk home together, however (I Wanna Be Around) and do share a kiss.
4. SO: CABINESSENCE They construct a Homecoming Float and Brian fixes the Hawaiian cabin back up after the fire (Workshop) and there is domestic bliss scene of Cabinessence's beginning where they also kiss on the float when no one is looking (which is constructed like a mini version of Brian's Hawaiin cabin). Mr. Crow is the moderator and the Homecoming Theme is shown to be "California Saga" and the float has some corn and agriculture stuff on it. Then, in a camera pan out that seems to go on forever with a fish-eye lens sense of journey, his kiss and smile is constrasted with all of the suffering other Americans have to go through to get it to him and his Hawaiian cabin (that is, we see some vegetables get picked, boxed, shipped over the rails --coolies looking like Mexican-American immigrants in the fields- on ships, in trucks, etv to get to him... all perhaps done by the same hippies/ classmates etc who played the indians in the Plymouth scene (Cabinessence). This "interconnectedness of commerce and your life" is explained by Mr Crow. "Uncover where your corn comes from!" he caws while reviewing the work the students have done.
5. . The Cantina section of Heroes and Villians takes place in the High School Cafeteria immediately after, with them eating corn as the jump cut joke. They end up having a food fight and Margarita is struck with something messy and runs off.
6. Look/Child is Father to the Man/Wonderful/Surfs Up - Brian follows her and soothes her feelings. We see as he goes through winter at High School successfullying wooing Margarita. Finally he succeeds and there is a tender scene where they lose their virginity (Wonderful) after he gives her a diamond necklace and then they are a little disillusioned and feel more grown up and can't go back to childhood; they see the challenges of the real world when you might have to bring a baby into that world. (Surf's Up). Brian is also shown confronting his demons and pushing to get the work done in 1967 and 2003. Finally, in Hawaii, we see that Brian has impregnated Margarita for sure and is happy about it.
7. Surf's Up: They attend a Winter formal as teenagers as well as a more relaxed beachside social in Hawaii with the natives and they get in an argument. There is a pregnancy scare. He chases her as she runs away up some stairs an into a dove-nested tower. When teenage Brian says he doesn't want any child, MARGARITA says:
You just want to write stupid kids surf songs! If I'm pregnant you got to get job. We got a home to make. (In background with lighting we also see 1967 Brian fighting with Marilyn Rovell simultaneously using the same language. It's as if the actors in the background have the words come out of their mouths.)
Whatsa matter with children's songs?
Because you're afraid to have an actual child!
I don't want kids...You saw my father.
Be a man, not a child! Don't you love me?
This causes a BREAKUP! Brian wanders alone, comes to the beach and falls asleep (while in parallel Smile-Era Brian is doing LSD and going to the Beach as well, Hawaii Brian as well, while 2003 Brian is exercising alone and healthy by the beach). In the morning teenage Brian wakes up in his tux to the sound of kids playing at a nearby beach park swingset. SO: SURF's UP ending. Still, in the next scene we find teenage Margarita is not pregnant after all. Hawaii Margarita is and there is domestic bliss.
7. SPRING: (Holidays /Wind Chimes /Cool Cool Water /Blue Hawaii etc)
Brian over Christmas break is actually taken to the beach for winter vacation by his parents, who have rented a small cottage at Crystal Cove, CA. He is unhappy it is not Hawaii but pretends while hanging out and listening to his windchimes while watching the sunset. He also misses and pines for Margarita who is back home in Hawthorne. (Been Way Too Long). Nonetheless, he learns to enjoy the holdiay when he goes snorkling and spies an underwater world. In his Hawaii fantasy we see him planting seeds in the spring and swimming in the ocean and growing ever closer with the growing belly of Margarita. (Cool Cool Water/Ocean Floor/Blue Hawaii). Of course, his Hawaii is blue because he is still seperated from her in real life. Also, the boys perform the some of this in the studio simultaneously. It takes place seemingly on the bottom of the ocean though through trick photography they aren't wet, etc. We see him get more and more out there in terms of set and setting and get more and more hippie in his outlook. Meanwhile, 2003 Brian is seeing doing the complete opposite, constantly cutting things out and down and making things more minimal and healthy in his life and we see it working.
8. Painter/Sunshine/Heroes and Villians: Brian with Margarita both in Hawaii and at High School, then Brian is showing being married to his new wife Melinda and leading a more healthy life preparing to score his music and get it organized in 2003. This includes scenes of his first child with Margarita in Hawaii doing well and she is indeed pregnant again with another, as well as perhaps a scene with modern day Brian singing or having fun with his own children.
9. Extended Hawaii happiness: Heroes and Villians / Barnyard/Vege-Tables play while we see Brian return to Margarita, she has the baby, and they start a new and bigger farm in Hawaii. We also see the Boys record their first version of Surfin' with the money that the parents gave them when they went out of town for the weekend=good times..
10. Good Vibrations
The Pressures of making Smile in 1967 are shown getting to Brian. Meanwhile, the pressures of deciding what to do after High School and keeping Margarita are also shown weighing on Brian. Finally, the pressure of getting the thing together in 2003 is also shown during this extended version of the song.
A Heroes and Villians reprise scene takes place where teenage Brian is forced to fight RYDER and if he loses he must agree to not see Margarita anymore (the brother found out about the pregnancy scare). He loses the fight. He is also shown losing the fight to finish Smile, arguing with Mike Love, doing too much methamphetamine, and freaking out listening to Sgt Peppers, then freaking out that he potentially caused a fire a block away from the studio and then he goes and gets a stack of tapes and decides he will burn them. He start to burn one but is prevented from doing so by the sound of some wind chimes he hears pick up outside his window with the wind. It looks like he intends to burn them all later but falls asleep. (Wind Chimes Reprise).
12. Brian is desolate. The sedated She's Going Bald/Wonderful Reprise etc reflect his desolation. He goes to a party to try and drink away his cares (Hey Baba Ruba) but is met with laughter when he gets too drunk (George Fell Into His French Horn). At the same time we see Murray camping out in front of Capitol with the tape of Surfin in his hand.
13. Still, it is Murray who comes and repairs the relationship by telling them he has taken Surfin' to Capitol and they want to sign the Pendeltons. We see the Pendletons do one of their first shows (Margarita is shown watching them at the show, still pining for Brian but also under the thumb of her brother, implied she becomes just another one of their many many female fans) and they hear Surfin' on the radio. Thus, while Brian doesn't get the girl in the end he does get on solid footing for his career (teenage Brian), 1967 Brian drops out of the rat race and starts doing music at home in a low fi indie anti-corporate kind of a way (and gets more hippie, opening the Radient Radish etc for awhile but that is shown later closing down implying the deterioration he was to see). We also see 2003 Brian finish Smile and successfully do a live version of the Western Outro to end the movie. That is paired with a scenes of Brian enjoying a stable agricultural style life in Hawaii with a passel of kids in his dreams aka the fantasy kid's world of the perfect SMiLE and what it aspired to in terms of a solution to the upheavals of the 60s it was addressing.
I can work up a longer more detailed script with a lot more fun ideas and crisp dialogue, Hollywood, but it'll cost ya!