The only companion book to the much-anticipated follow-up to Paul Thomas Anderson's critically hailed Boogie Nights that "leaves you no doubt you are in the presence of a natural-born filmmaker."—David Ansen, Newsweek. The much-heralded writer-director deliberately withheld information about his new film during production because "I feel lately as if I know everything about a movie before I see it, and I really want the audience to discover this purely." Featuring an ensemble cast (see below), in, in an unbilled role, Tom Cruise (who called Anderson to express interest in working with him), the film is now described as "a story about family relationships and bonds that have been broken and need to be mended in one day...set in the San Fernando Valley on a day full of rain with no clouds." Magnolia: The Illustrated Screenplay includes the complete shooting script, introduction and script notes by Anderson, a photo section with about 40 photos in color, and interview with the writer/director, and complete cast and crew credits.
At three hours long, Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia qualifies as an epic, with a broad scope of characters whose lives become entwined over the course of a day in the San Fernando Valley. Despite its vast canvas, though, this is probably one of the most intimate epics you'll ever experience, because Anderson and his cast of actors delve into their characters so deeply that you feel you instantly know them. Anderson's screenplay of Magnolia is similar--a few pages in, you'll be hooked by the story and the characters. Numerous critics have derided Anderson's talents as a screenwriter while praising him to the skies as a director, but the screenplay for Magnolia shows a filmmaker at work with a keen eye for character development and a penchant for both brilliant monologues and amazingly deft one-liners. And unlike most published screenplays (which bill themselves as a "shooting script" but are in reality just a transcript of the finished product), this screenplay is truly the working script, complete with typos and scenes that didn't make it into the final cut of the film. Reading the screenplay, you'll see Tom Cruise's scenes with Jason Robards become more fleshed out, more scenes from Cruise's motivational workshop on "Seduce and Destroy," and most significantly, a subplot involving whiz kid Stanley Spector and the mysterious character known as "the Worm," who pops up only briefly in the film. Also included are some stunning color photographs and a great interview with Anderson, where you'll find out who gave him the idea of the rain of frogs, which character in the film is his favorite, and why he used a game-show milieu for a large part of the film. Truly a companion piece to the movie, a testament to the vision of a filmmaker, and, as Anderson puts it in his introduction, "an interesting study of a writer writing from his gut." --Mark Englehart