Screenplay Review: Gutenberg
Written by Donna Hall, Gutenberg is a historical drama mini-series that tells the story of Johann Gutenberg, who was a German goldsmith and one of the 15th century greatest inventors. Gutenberg, who is described as a stunning genius, secretly developed and invented the accurate printed word
with the movable type.
The first episode, "Take Me Home," presents almost twenty years of Gutenberg's life, from being an 18-year-old young man to a successful goldsmith at 34.
The story opens with an emotional earthquake for young Gutenberg. At just 18, and after a year of marriage to Emma, his wife dies of pestilence at 17. This tragedy will shape the character of one of the most influential people of the 15th century.
It quickly becomes clear to readers that at that time, people could not read, which is about to change thanks to one groundbreaking person.
The structure is mostly linear and pretty straightforward. The story is spread over Gutenberg's early years as an entrepreneur, and tells the story of his success, and at the same time his personal life that takes many turns.
The characters are well written. Their depiction in the spirit of the 15th century helps the reader to imagine the places, the costumes and the characters.
Gutenberg is a fascinating character, both in his professional life and in his development as an inventor, and in his personal life. He is revealed as a super smart, mentally strong entrepreneur, and also as a compassionate man, when he is tormented for earning his fortune on the backs of the poor.
In addition to the character of Gutenberg, who leads the story, other characters who accompany him over the years (such as Hans Dunne and Clas Vitzthumb) add value and interest to the story, some creating conflict and others helping to advance the plot.
Ennelin, who meets Gutenberg only when he's 34, adds a lot of heart to the story, and creates the possibility of an interesting romance.
The dialogues in the script are appropriate for the 15th century, with changes and updates by the writer that adapts the language to the modern world. It can be said that there is a balance between using words and slang from the past ("Ja!") and the way people speak today.
Most of the dialogue is presented in short sentences that create a sense of credibility to the characters. Some of the characters speak in a similar style, using the same slang and wording, so without the character's name above the dialogue, it is not always possible to identify who the speaker is, but in general the dialogues are written in a smart and reliable way (Hans Dunne to Gutenberg: "Make a new invention and a man will figure out how to kill each other with it").
Gutenberg's story is interesting and may be worth producing. This is a man who has changed the face of history, and there is room for a historical drama about influential people from the past. Can Gutenberg's personal story hold a mini-series? It's hard to know without reading the following episodes, but the pilot episode opens the series in an interesting way that makes the reader want to know more about the man and the period. Assuming the series is not entirely based on real events, dramatic events can be found or invented to thicken the conflicts between the characters, and create more tension and anticipation for the upcoming episodes.
Donna Hall - the writer of Gutenberg
About the writer
University of Arkansas, and Brookhaven College in Dallas TX. Multi-awarded artist. Art teacher in the Frisco ISD after-school programs. Author of 5 Star reviewed children's book. Mother of two and Grandmother of one.