Character and Theme-focused Screenplay Analysis

Great Films

Traffic: A Screenplay Analysis

Posted by Jennine Lanouette on Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Traffic Film Michael Douglas


When screenwriter Stephen Gaghan decided to write a script about the War on Drugs, he couldn’t figure out how to fit such a massive subject into one character’s story. He was then approached by Steven Soderbergh, who had the rights to the British mini-series Traffik. This opened a multi-story approach, using several different perspectives to make one big statement: the drug war is a failure. Of the five nominally connected stories — a Mexican detective infiltrating a cartel, an American detective busting a kingpin, a U.S. drug czar trying to make a difference, a daughter of privilege turned drug addict and a trophy wife turned kingpin — only two follow a conventional “rising action” structure. Of the other three, one is a steady downward fall, another goes both downward and upward simultaneously and the third travels in a complete circle. How these varying story structures are woven together to describe a complex social problem is key to the effectiveness of this film.


You can watch Traffic on the following Video On Demand websites:

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