Screenwriters love structure: it gives them something to focus on as they plow ahead in their storytelling or to retreat to if they get off track. Familiar structures include the road movie (looking for answers), the journey film (home to Ithaca) and the sit-by-the-fireplace flashback (“Let me tell you about Heathcliffe”).
Then there is the “gang’s all here” sequence, as in the opening of The Godfather, where we meet the key players and discover some of their concerns; or in the closing of Hamlet, where lingering problems are addressed and resolved, sometimes at the end of a poisoned sword. There is also the gang’s-all-here movie, a single two-hour set piece in which family secrets are revealed, confronted and argued over.
There is an 80 percent chance that later in this century a megadrought will plague the American Southwest for decades, according to a study released by researchers at NASA and at Columbia and Cornell universities. The drought will be caused by reduced precipitation and changes in evaporation rates. The researchers say other factors, such as the El Niño weather pattern, could interrupt long periods of severe drought. The researchers say there is time to reduce the factors contributing to climate change (Washington Post, February 12).