"THE SECRET OF MONKEY ISLAND

"

Screenplay by
ANTONIO MONACHELLO

“THE SECRET OF MONKEY ISLAND”
FADE IN:
INT. STUDIOS OFFICE - DAY
A man is staring at the camera.
MAN (O.S.)
So-- this is our hero.
Who? This?

MAN ON CAMERA

The two men talking are RON and the PRESIDENT. The first is dressed in white while the
latter in black.
RON
Yes, mister president.
PRESIDENT
Come on? What's he doing there? And why? It's only a
very old video game!
On a screen, the first scene of the game this film is adapted from. The president looks
away, then stands up and goes around in the room on a hoverboard.
PRESIDENT
Ron... look: I understand it's not easy these days, with the
clones and that animators union problem-RON
But nobody has ever done this before! I found some crazy
stories while browsing these old files. In one there were
disembodied tentacles, in another a musician monk-- But
this! A love story, great antagonist, ghosts, everything
we're looking for! Uh, and a great protagonist too-- Yeah.
PRESIDENT
OK, OK-- Enough with the telling already, do you have
something to show me? I give you only ten, fifteen minutes
top.
RON
Just a second, then. I'll set it up.
Ron types furiously on a keyboard with his eyes closed while reciting/mumbling a
mantra. A car flies up behind the window, noticed with surprise by the-PRESIDENT
The future of cars, eh?-- mine consumes far less up to ten
thousands miles. What model do you have, Ron?
He's not listening, he is--

2.
RON
Okay-- I think we're okay-- Ready?
The president sits down while the camera moves towards the screen and-Fade to black
EXT. MÊLÉE ISLAND - ESTABLISHING SHOT - NIGHT
Caption: Deep in the Caribbean
We see an island with a lookout point up on a cliff. A town with a dock and a beach stand
on the opposite sides of the island, divided by a road.
EXT. SAILING GALLEON - NIGHT
A group of unnamed SAILORS is drinking and chanting on deck.
INT. GALLEON BELOW DECK - NIGHT
The young cabin boy GUYBRUSH THREEPWOOD is writing a letter while sitting on top
of a cannon. He wears a white blouse, black breeches, white socks and small black shoes.
GUYBRUSH
Dear mother, I hope you received my last letter. How are
things at home? I am near Mêlée island now. Not even the
pirates stopped me and my men. I am sure you and dad
are proud of-He runs out of ink, then starts looking to find some more of it.
SAILOR (O.S.)

(sniffing)
Whoa! What's this smell?

SALOR 2 (O.S.)
(shouting)
Guybrush, what have you done?
SAILOR 3 (O.S.)
(shouting and stuttering)
Uhh, pirates! Filthy pirates! Filthy ghost pirates! Where did
they come from?
GUYBRUSH
(gulping)
Pirates?-- Oh well, ghost pirates! I guess the bar never
closes on a ship.
He puts the unfinished letter in a bottle, closes it with a cork and throws it out in the sea.
Then he takes a clinking bag from a table, puts in his pockets and goes up.

3.
INT./EXT. LADDER, ABOVE DECK - NIGHT
Guybrush receives a blow and gets thrown out in the sea.
EXT. DECK - NIGHT
The only one to notice him is BOB, one of the ghost pirates that seized the ship.
BOB
Man overboard! Man overboard-- Get him-- Oh OK,
nothing to worry 'bout.
(walking to the ship rail)
Who cares about him?-- And who cares about LeChuck?-Ye are glad to be dead, right Bob? Oh yes sir. I feel so lucky
that you happened to capture my ship, then murdered me
and everyone on board-- --yes sir-- lucky.
A shadow is then cast by LeChuck over Bob's face as soon as he finishes speaking.
EXT. BEACH - NIGHT
Guybrush regain consciousness on a beach, stands up with a crab on his head.
Ouch!

GUYBRUSH

He takes off the algae from his clothes and the crab from his head. He looks for a way
inside the island but finds none. Then he spots a fire up on the cliff, and starts climbing up.
EXT. LOOKOUT - NIGHT
An old man stands by a crackling fire, overlooking with thick glasses the sea. Guybrush
pops out behind him, giggling a bit then panting heavily.
That was easy-Uh?

GUYBRUSH
OLD MAN

The old man looks around him without noticing anything.
Hi!

GUYBRUSH

He finally notices Guybrush but still talking without looking steadily at him.
OLD MAN
Yikes! Don't sneak up on me like that!
GUYBRUSH
(waves his hand in front of the man)
My name is--

4.
OLD MAN
Ah! Jack! You're finally here!
He sniffs around.
Where's the grog? Go to the SCUMM Bar and get me some!
GUYBRUSH

What--

OLD MAN
Oh, come on! Of all the boys on Mêlée, why did I end up
with you, if you can't understand anything? Do you think
this is just a game? I'll tell you everything later if you have
questions, I'm thirsty. Just go!

Okay.

(hesitating)

GUYBRUSH

Guybrush walks away, but suddenly stops.
GUYBRUSH
Where did you say I had to go?
OLD MAN
The Scumm Bar. How many times do I have to tell you?
Just go down there!
Right.

GUYBRUSH

Guybrush leaves and starts walking on the road.
INSERT
Road signs with BEACH and SCUMM BAR written on them.
EXT. ROAD - NIGHT
Guybrush is walking at a very slow pace. He gets scared by any strange sound coming
from the surrounding forest. On a sudden he hears footstep approaching and shivers.
Uh-oh.

GUYBRUSH

Two men walk towards Guybrush in the almost pitch dark, with things that appear like
swords in their hands.
MAN IN THE DARK
This is the end for you, you gutter-crawling cur!

5.
MAN IN THE DARK 2
No, he's mine! Soon he'll be wearing my sword like a shish
kebab!
GUYBRUSH
Take this! It's all I have! Spare me! Please!
The two pirates look at each other with surprise, while Guybrush starts running after
giving them the bag in his pocket.
EXT. DOCK - NIGHT
An exhausted and almost crying Guybrush walks down the dock, where he finds the
Scumm Bar.
INT. SCUMM BAR - NIGHT
He enters. The bar consists of two rooms and is packed with drinking, shouting pirates,
one even on a chandelier.
INT. SCUMM BAR COUNTER - NIGHT
He advances to the counter, but nobody is on the other side.
GUYBRUSH
Excuse me, can I get a drink?
He receives an answer from a pirate standing next to him.
PIRATE
You could wait for the cook to notice you, but that could
take all day. Just find a mug and sneak into the kitchen.
That's what we all do.
Guybrush leaves the counter and bumps into a pirate who is throwing a dart. Someone
screams. Scared, Guybrush walks in reverse with his hands up and his eyes almost closed.
Sorry, sorry--

GUYBRUSH

INT. SCUMM BAR DRINKING ROOM - NIGHT
He goes near two pirates sitting on a table near the wall. He steps on the tail of a small dog
laying between the chairs behind the pirates.
GUYBRUSH
Sorry little doggy-The dog starts barking.
Woof.
It continues.

GUYBRUSH

6.

--LeChuck-Woof, lee chuck?

PIRATE (O.S.)
GUYBRUSH

The dog begins to growl, while one of the two pirates turns his head and body to them.
PIRATE
(to the dog)
Hey, Spiffy! Who are you talking to?
(looking up while sniffing)
Ahoy there, fisherboy. You got a nice mouth-watering crab
smell on you.
GUYBRUSH
Oh, no, no. That's my new deodorant.
PIRATE
Indeed, you look more like a flooring inspector. So, who are
you?
GUYBRUSH
My name is Guybrush Threepwood. I'm new in town.
PIRATE
Guybrush Threepwood? That's the stupidest name I've ever
heard!
GUYBRUSH
I don't know. I kind of like Guybrush.
PIRATE
But it's not even a name!
GUYBRUSH
Well, what's your name?
PIRATE
My name is Mancomb Seepgood. And this is Estevan. Take
a seat!
Guybrush sits down on the opposite side, then looks at Estevan who is wearing an eyepatch.
ESTEVAN
What are you looking at me for?
No, nothing--

GUYBRUSH

ESTEVAN
Come on, boy, speak!

7.
GUYBRUSH
Well-- What happened to your eye?
ESTEVAN
(mimicking Guybrush while saying the
first word)
Well-- I was putting in my contact lens when-- Hey, wait a
second! That's none of your business!
MANCOMB
(to Estevan)
Hey, hey! Calm down.
(to Guybrush)
So, what brings you to Mêlée Island anyway?
GUYBRUSH
Well, it's a long story.
Mancomb and Estevan are not really listening.
GUYBRUSH (CONT’D)
I am the captain of the Merchandising, a merchant ship. We
were almost arrived safely here while all of a sudden
someone attacked us! There were fifty of them! I fought
against almost ten but then I slipped and-Mancomb is almost asleep, while Estevan looks somewhere else while drinking.
GUYBRUSH
(clearing his throat)
So, well-Guybrush looks at the poster on the wall on his left. In it, the picture of a young attractive
woman, ELAINE MARLEY, with the caption: “Re-elect governor Marley. One candidate,
one choice.”
GUYBRUSH
Where I can find the Governor?
MANCOMB
Governor Marley? Her mansion is on the other side of
town. Buccaneers like us aren't as welcome around her
place as they used to be.
GUYBRUSH
Wait, what? Buccaneers? I really thought you were pirates!
MANCOMB
No, no. We're nothing like those pirates-- here in the
Caribbean.
Why not?

GUYBRUSH

8.
MANCOMB
They are just evil foul-smelling, grog-swilling pigs. We are
at least forty percent less evil. Anyways, it's just a story. I
don't believe any of it. Estevan here instead takes the whole
thing very seriously.
ESTEVAN
How can't ye? Things really got ugly after!
GUYBRUSH
Why? What did that guy do?
Guybrush face gets more and more terrified as he begins to listen to the-LECHUCK'S STORY - ANIMATED FLASHBACK
LeChuck's story as imagined by Estevan, while we also start seeing an exaggerated
animated version of it.
ESTEVAN (V.O.)
That guy? He's not that guy. He is LeChuck, an evil and
fearsome buccaneer. You can almost call him a pirate.
Nobody knows why he is so evil, but I heard he lost his
parents during their trip to the new world, devoured by a-BACK TO SCENE
MANCOMB
Who cares! Tell him about the governor!
ESTEVAN
Oh, ye! I was only setting the story!
LECHUCK/MONKEY ISLAND LEGENDS - ANIMATED FLASHBACK
As before, brief exaggerated animated scenes: a tall, big pirate with a black beard doing
what Estevan tells; we're not able to look directly at his face.
ESTEVAN (V.O.)
So, the last time governor Marley had a buccaneer over for
dinner, he was LeChuck, and he fell in love with her.
LeChuck tried to impress the governor by sailing off to find
the Secret of Monkey Island. But a mysterious storm came
up and sank his ship, leaving no survivors. We thought that
was the end of the fearsome buccaneer LeChuck. We were
wrong. Now he still sails the waters between here and
Monkey Island. His ghost ship is an unholy terror upon the
sea-Guybrush tries to impress them again by saying-BACK TO SCENE
GUYBRUSH
Wait a second, I fought those ghost pirates! I was telling
you before!

9.

Who? You?

ESTEVAN

Mancomb and Estevan laugh.
ESTEVAN
(to Mancomb, laughing)
We're all in here and not out in the sea because of LeChuck
and he fought them!
(finish laughing, then serious)
LeChuck really made things rather uncomfortable for
everybody. We're even getting dangerously low on grog...
and mugs.
Estevan's hand starts shaking, while a ridiculed and terrified Guybrush is comforted by
Mancomb.
MANCOMB
Here, here, drink some grog. It's going flat so it won't hurt
you-Guybrush sips some grog from the mug.
--too much.

MANCOMB

GUYBRUSH
(almost spitting)
What's in this?
MANCOMB
We don't know for certain. It's a secret mixture which
contains one or more of the following: kerosene, propylene
glycol, artificial sweeteners, sulphuric acid, rum, acetone,
red dye number two, scumm, axle grease, battery acid,
and/or pepperoni.
ESTEVAN
It's one of the most caustic, volatile substances known to
man. The stuff eats right through your sobriety. The cook is
losing a fortune replacing these mugs!
Guybrush body starts oscillating left and right. He has a smile on his face and suddenly he
stands up.
GUYBRUSH
(mumbling)
Nice talking to you, guys. I'll just be running along now, I
leave you to your grog.
Aye.

ESTEVAN

MANCOMB
Come back later and tell us how ye're doing.

10.
Both smirk. Guybrush leaves the table and walks toward to exit bumping into pirates
without care.
INT./EXT. BAR ENTRANCE - NIGHT
Guybrush exits the bar and walks, swaying unsteadily in the street scarce of people.
EXT. STREET - NIGHT
He goes near three buccaneers, each with a different colour identifying him.
GREEN BUCCANEER
What be ye wantin' boy?
GUYBRUSH
I want to be one of you. I can do it!
BLUE BUCCANEER
Oh, yeah? You don't become like us just by asking.
GUYBRUSH
I can hold my breath for ten minutes! Give me my trials to
prove myself!
BLACK BUCCANEER
Get lost, boy, you bother us.
A monkey is walking among them, in the background. It approaches one pirate.
GUYBRUSH
Look behind you! A three-headed monkey!
BLACK BUCCANEER
Yeah, yeah. I said get lost! Why bother us?
GUYBRUSH
You're a bunch of pigs! I will kill you all!
The buccaneers laugh for a moment, look into each other eyes, nod, then-GREEN BUCCANEER
OK boy, hear this. You should-But Guybrush is more interested in the monkey, who's leaving the scene.
GUYBRUSH
Where are you going monkey monkey monkey? Come
back!
The monkey starts going into the forest and Guybrush follows him.

Outline of The Secret of Monkey Island film adaptation

While the added prologue tries to be an ironic look at the film adaptation from video
games as of today, the structure will be put in the foreground. The protagonist will “fly” in all
the first three acts, and in the climax towards the end of the fourth. The first flight, not present in
the game, is abrupt and leaves him unconscious; in the second (which in this adaptation serves to
move the plot forward more than in the game) he is already almost passed out; the third and the
fourth (in the confrontation with the antagonist) are willingly caused by him. The choice to
retain these ellipses is motivated by the mixed genres considered for this film. While the safety
of the flights would be guaranteed by the fantasy, comedy and/or adventure elements of genre
and style, they serve also for the construction of the main character, which is constructed
stretching the limits of character identification. While the protagonist would appear passive at
the very beginning (trying to translate the loss of interactivity), as the plot unfolds he would then
show traits of the energetic and the intentional characters, as well as a back story in a moment of
self revelation and tentative acts of heroism in the end. His development as well as that of the
other characters will be highlighted throughout the outline.

Prologue
A man is looking right into the camera, addressing the audience and asking “Who's this?
What's he doing there?”. A man named Ron is pitching a feature film to the president of a studio,
some decades from now. He sets up the screening, so they start watching it.

First act
The year is unknown, while the century seems to be the eighteenth but there are some
anachronisms as they are present in the game. A ponytailed 20-something man named
GUYBRUSH THREEPWOOD is on a galleon sailing in the Caribbean sea. Below deck, he is
writing a letter to his mother in which he tells her how he has finally become a captain.
(nature of protagonist) He actually is still a clumsy cabin boy. The reason of his voyage
is not stated at this point. He only seems superficial and still not an adult, since he has not a clear
goal except running away from everything. Apart from clumsy, he worries easily, but he is also
curious and energetic.
1

(inciting incident) For this reason a really scared Guybrush goes up on the deck but he
gets thrown out in the sea. The ghost pirate LECHUCK has seized the ship. His ghost first mate
BOB sees the man in the water, but he leaves him be since there is probably nothing to worry
about.
(nature of the antagonist) The presence of LeChuck is never fully shown until the
fourth act, in this case only described and told by Bob. From the middle of the first act until the
third, we're showed animated exaggerated sequences about LeChuck's life and the secret of
Monkey Island portrayed in different style as narrated in voice over from the different characters
the protagonist meet, each focusing on a specific trait (e.g. parents, love, etc.).
An unconscious Guybrush washes up on the shore of Mêlée Island. After climbing up a
cliff, he meets an old man who mistakes him for someone else and tells him to go fetch some
grog in the SCUMM bar. Guybrush accepts since the old man looks harmless enough to talk
with.
On his way to the bar Guybrush gets robbed by two pirates in the dark, who attacks him
with swords and ironic insults. In reality they are just practising for the swordfighting
tournament, but Guybrush is too scared to understand. Exhausted, he arrives in town.
He finds the bar and tries to get some grog but unsuccessfully. This is not really his place,
so he starts speaking to a dog. Soon its owner, MANCOMB SEEPGOOD, notices him. He sits
and talks with him and his friend ESTEVAN.
They tell him about the pirate LeChuck, who apparently died while sailing to the
mysterious Monkey Island, an act that was meant to conquer the love of the governor ELAINE
MARLEY. His ship sank, and he was reincarnated as a ghost that terrorises the seas from his
base deep beneath Monkey Island.
Drunk on the really acid beverage known as grog, he leaves the bar. He starts blabbering
and also has hallucinations among which a three-headed monkey running around people.
Guybrush follows the monkey running randomly in the island and in a clearing he finds
the travelling circus owned and represented by the (fantastic flying) FETTUCINI BROTHERS.
Still tipsy he lies down while looking at flowers. While discussing on who should test their
cannon, they find out an almost sleeping Guybrush on the other side of the tent. They pick him
up, put an helmet on his head and a handsome sum in his pocket and shoot him with the cannon,
farther away than expected.

2

Ending first act/second act
(protagonist) He flies all over the island and ends up, crashing through a window, on a
bed in the mansion of the Governor Marley. Throughout the first act he was mostly a passive
character hiding his past and fabricating lies about it, but from this moment thereon he becomes
more active and intentional in his acts, opening up his needs.
Still alive, he catches up his sobriety when confronted by the ferocious piranha poodles.
Trying to back them up, he looks desperately in his pockets, only to find some flowers. He
succeeds though, and poisons them and wanders inside the mansion. He sees the sheriff FESTER
SHINETOP talking with Elaine in another room, so he imagines they have an affair. They hear
some noises. Fester catches Guybrush and almost arrests him, but is stopped by Governor
Marley.

(plot point) Guybrush falls in love with her instantly and at first he is too shy to

talk (understandably). Fester leaves, while the two walk around the town. Among other things
they talk about Monkey Island and LeChuck, and she imagines the real reason (for her) of him
being so evil, as also the subsequent other characters would do.
They vaguely seem to interest each other and Guybrush confesses to her why he left
home to see the new world. The most important reason being that his parents abandoned him
when he was a kid. Nobody in his life was ever proud of him. While talking they notice a poster
for an Insult swordfighting tournament. Guybrush misunderstands Elaine and decides to try to
win it and prove his bravery to her. As he is about to leave, with Elaine gone, a very jealous
Fester stops him, and after revealing that he has a sinister plan for Elaine, takes him to the pier.
He ties his legs to a very big rock and thrown him into the sea. Guybrush manages to escape and
climbs ashore.
The following day he meets Mancomb and they send him to the store selling swords.
Instead, he enters in a shop called the House of mojo, specialised in voodoo. The owner,
VOODOO LADY, tells him his future in a somewhat hazily way, such as finding his true self,
the treasure of all treasures in human life. After going to the right store and purchasing a sword,
he starts duelling pirates, always losing.
He'll never win the tournament and impress Elaine. Disillusioned, he walks on the streets
of the island, when he's stopped by a shady character selling goods. He buys a map to the
Legendary lost treasure of Mêlée Island and then proceeds to find it and dig it up. It's only a tshirt. Returning to the town, though, he notices a cabin in the woods and goes there, hungry.
The owner is CAPTAIN SMIRK, an eye-patched, muscle-bound with a buzz-cut, cigar

3

smoking word trainer. He teaches to Guybrush the art of insult swordfighting, which is fought in
the principle that a sharp wit is as important as a sharp blade. He uses The machine, a device
controlled by a small monkey using a series of levers and ropes.
Back in town, Guybrush grows stronger as he learns new insults and comebacks while
fighting pirates. He faces up sheriff Fester too, who starts to recognise his opponent's strength
(and wit) and pretends to lose.

Ending second act/Third act
Guybrush finally enters and wins the tournament over the strongest fighter on the island,
CARLA THE SWORDMASTER.
(plot point) While going to the mansion with the trophy (another t-shirt), a never-beenso-confident Guybrush finds out LeChuck's ghost ship has long sailed to Monkey Island with the
kidnapped Elaine on board. Shinetop was a human disguise used by LeChuck in order to stay
close to Elaine and keep the local pirates under control, which now loot the mansion in her
absence. Guybrush swears to destroy LeChuck and save Elaine.
Guybrush needs to find a ship and a crew, but almost every one is busy looting.
Wandering around town the only person willing to help is OTIS, a prisoner who was rotting in
jail for picking flowers illegally, and he frees him up. Outside the jail he meets Carla and
MEATHOOK, a tall muscular pirate whose hands have been replaced by hooks, and they join
him too.
He purchases the ship Sea Monkey, which legend has it has once before sailed to Monkey
Island, from STAN, a confident hand-waving salesman.
Out on the high seas, Guybrush's crew mutinies setting out sunbathing chairs. Unable to
convince them, he is forced to get to Monkey Island on his own. Searching the ship for clues he
finds a voodoo recipe in the captain's cabin, entitled Directions to Monkey Island, which he
cooks. A cloud of powerful fumes knocks him and his crew unconscious and awakens off the
coast of Monkey Island.
It is day now, but the crew is still unwilling to do anything, so Guybrush uses the cannon
to shoot himself on the island since no rowboat was available.
There he discovers a village full of CANNIBALS wearing distinctly over-sized masks,
who are in a middle of a trial against HERMAN TOOTHROT, an almost insane ragged
4

castaway. He tries to be his lawyer, but they are both condemned to death. At the last moment
they are pardoned thanks to the common hatred towards LeChuck. He now knows that his ghost
ship is in an underground cavern underneath a Giant monkey head.
Herman has the key to the monkey head, while he cannibals offer to make a potion to use
against LeChuck with a magical root which he stole from them, if Guybrush can bring it back.

Ending third act/Fourth act
Using a magical navigator's head, Guybrush navigates the underground Caverns of meat
and boards LeChuck's ghost ship wearing a necklace that makes him invisible to ghosts. He
finds the brig where Elaine is being held captive, but the heavy ghost guard around her makes
her impossible to rescue. Instead he retrieves a magical voodoo root and returns to the cannibals,
who provide him with a seltzer bottle of voodoo root elixir that can destroy ghosts and turns out
to be very similar to root beer.
(plot point) Guybrush returns to the underground cavern with the elixir, but from the
single ghost left behind he learns that LeChuck has already left and has taken Elaine back to
Mêlée Island to marry her at the church.
Guybrush returns to Mêlée Island and rushes to the church, using the ghost-zapping
potion on any ghost in his way. He stops the ceremony only to ruin Elaine's own plan for escape.
As LeChuck challenges him, Elaine abseils down from the ceiling and the figure in the wedding
dress turns out to be two monkeys with a root beer bottle. Guybrush scares them and they ran
away while Elaine pursues them to get the bottle. She is almost the opposite of the heroine in
distress waiting to be saved.
(climax) The secret of Monkey Island was never found. LeChuck, shown in flashbacks
which are actually tall tales, as the incarnation of evil, even as ghost, fears Guybrush as he tries
to use the potion. But it jams. A furious LeChuck begins to punch him all over the island in a
rather one-sided fight. Finally Guybrush lands in the grog machine near Stan's shop. A bottle of
root beer spills out of the machine and he manages to spray LeChuck with it. (falling and
resolution) Elaine shows up and they enjoy a romantic moment, watching LeChuck's body
bursting in a series of fireworks all over the night sky.
A less scared and more confident Guybrush, now not alone, has finally found his place in
the world. Scared of less than everything, he has now proved his bravery to himself, he's
confident but still a bit clumsy.
5

Material for The Secret of Monkey Island film adaptation

Intentions
The choice to write an outline and a script for a feature film with a story adapted from a 1990
video game comes from the privileged point of view offered by the task. As Ryan (2004) states,
“since media present themselves only through individual texts, the problem of passing from
observations gathered from the text to principles that describe the medium as a whole is one of the
greatest challenges of media studies”.

And also for film studies as well, as Dudley Andrew (quoted in Leitch, 2003) did in his call for
the integration of adaptation study, where he reminds us that the distinctive feature of the
adaptation, “the matching of the cinematic sign system to prior achievement in some other system,
can be shown to be distinctive of all representational cinema.”

A benefit felt also by Dancyger and Rush (1995), who state that “to disregard other forms of
writing or to view scriptwriting as an exclusive art form is to cut yourself from a large cultural
community with which you have more in common than you might realize.”

Adaptations
Regarding the process of adaptation, Hutcheon (2006) stresses the importance of the “conceptual
flipping back and forth between the work we know and the work we are experiencing” and, she
continues, “as if this were not complex enough, the context in which we experience the adaptation
-cultural, social, historical- is another important factor in the meaning and significance we grant to
this ubiquitous palimpsestic form.”
Some films in the recent times were based on video games characters and stories, 1 but, as Leitch
(2007) states, “so far [...] neither reviewers nor theorists have developed a way of talking about
postliterary adaptations that has progressed much beyond sarcasm or outrage.”
1 wikipedia.org List of films based on video games
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_based_on_video_games#International Accessed on Nov. 14, 2012

1

The lowly appreciated products of adaptation from video games probably had a bad influence on
the discourse, possibly at every level (theory, fan, professional).

Games theory
On the other hand, considering for example the experience of video games on the neurological
level, the explanation behind the mental experiences during the fruition of this medium is not
simple, and as the cognitive researcher Daphne Bavelier said, “even within video games [...],
different video games have a different effect on your brains. So we actually need to step into the
lab and really measure what is the effect of each video game.” 2 The discussion on the different
degree of engagement in film and video games would then benefit from a more comprehensive
outlook into the same medium.
Therefore, lacking a more appropriate cognitive research we might take a closer look at the
gameplay genre of the game, i.e. the specific way in which players interact, in this case the
(graphical) adventure game, which is normally perceived by players as the most narrative-driven
gameplay genre alongside the text adventure game.

Narrative in the game
As Black (2012) states, “many graphical adventure games, and particularly those produced for the
SCUMM engine by LucasArts, were praised by reviewers and remembered by players for the
narratives presented to them on-screen as much as, if not more than, any narrativized account of
gameplay. In particular, Gilbert's The Secret of Monkey Island is a comedic pirate adventure
noteworthy for its parody of other games.”
If we would ask a player about the story in this game then the answer would be strikingly similar
to the walkthrough, which serves to the player to remove narrative obstacles, foretelling the
game's ideal story depending on the levels of interactivity and openness (which are generally
really are lower in this game and genre than in other games).
As Lindley (2004) states, “linear and interactive narratives form the highest level of pre-designed
2 Talks TEDx - Daphne Bavelier: Your brain on video games
http://www.ted.com/talks/daphne_bavelier_your_brain_on_video_games.html Accessed on Nov. 17, 2012

2

time structure, framing low-level simulation processes and intermediate level game moves within
a high level structure typically based upon classic models of narrative form.”
There is a single protagonist, the goals (of character/player) are clear: he wants to be a pirate and
to begin the adventure he has to pass three trials as ordered by the pirate leaders. Even if at first
those goals seems to be better understood within what Aarseth (2004) calls quest narrative, the
reason behind these character/player actions and characterizations in this game are actually better
viewed if framed into the comedy genre, something very clear for those who played.

Knowing the audience: two opposite ideas
Which audience should be better considered then, in this process?
The idea of recreating the experience of the player in a different medium as it was lived, nuancing
proper elements of genres already present in the game, would may be preferable considering the
fans of the game and it would retain for example the initial three trials mentioned before.
Hutcheon (2006) reminds us that “when a film [...] announces itself as an adaptation of a
particular work, those who like that work turn out for the adaptation, often to discover that only
the name remains and there is little resemblance to anything treasured and thus expected.”

The other idea revolves instead around adding backstories, completely changing the plot or
forcing characterizations which don't recall the originals, focusing mostly on the film stylistic
coding (which in the game was limited by the budget and by the historical/technological
constraints of the medium).

The choices made in this adaptation will instead highlight the importance of the reasons of the
appreciation from the original audience (an interactive audience, as described by Jenkins (2002))
but at the same time focusing on the perceived consistency needed for a film adaptation.

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Working in-between with film theory
The stress on the player experience though, is not important only for the loss of interactivity or for
the mistified equivalence in the experiences, since it would be considered as “medium blindness”,
a concept proposed by Hausken (2004) delineating a perspective which neglects the significance
of the nature of the medium for a comprehension of the object of analysis At the same time, the
concept of “text blindness”, i.e. neglecting the “features of the object of analysis that involve
textual conditions” (a “blindness” considered by Hausken especially when reviewing theories on
the so-called new media), comes to mind when thinking about privileging the second idea.
Therefore, the decision to submerge the trials in the plot seems in any case inevitable in the film
adaptation, which tentatively tries to bridge the gap between the different audiences and media
involved. In this sense, instead of parodying video games as in the game, here the focus would be
on video game adaptations (for example in the prologue) and at the same time other films and the
film itself (as when Mancomb explains the new difference between pirates of the Caribbean and
buccaneers, not stressed in the outline for the sake of clarity).

Bringing the matter into film theory, the answers to the questions proposed for the analysis of
narrative films by Kaes and Rentschler (2006) would then serve as a starting point, a blueprint
upon which a construction of a film would highlight the strengths and the faults of the elements
taken into consideration (walkthrough,3 gamescript,4 playing, watching longplay,5 fan creations
etc) as they would be experienced by the dual audience (or triple considering also players who
don't like the game or the genre).
So on one hand there are the people who know the story and played the game, who would be
interested in how the game and the narrative experience are rendered in a film, in the fidelity or in
the care for maybe not vital details (e.g. establishing shots from camera angles of the game,
similar pro-filmic to some extent); on the other there are those who don't, who would instead find
clarity in first instance or at least an understandable and compelling story without obscure
references and character identification. Even if someone considered the characters in the game as
“flat”, the adaptation process itself would give the possibility to “round” them.
3 Christensen Monkey Island 1 walkthrough http://www.worldofmi.com/gamehelp/walk/monkey1.php Accessed on
Nov. 15, 2012
4 Rahman (2003) The Secret of Monkey Island Game Script http://www.gamefaqs.com/pc/562681-the-secret-ofmonkey-island/faqs/23891 Accessed on Nov. 15, 2012
5 Amiga Longplay [021] The Secret Of Monkey Island http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFPFFZs5m_w
Accessed on Nov. 15, 2012

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Structure and genres
In the outline then are reflected both the screenwriting advices by Dancyger and Rush and at the
same time the theoretical frameworks around genres and audience engagement, as it will be clear.
The ironic four-act structure replicates the four parts plus prologue of the game, which starts from
the old man scene.6 Marked by the flights of the protagonist, since a serious engagement is
relaxed "due to a manifest absurdity of the grounds for concern" (Olson, quoted in King, 2002),
the intended genre would not be fixed, but it would be a mixture containing foremost a
combination of the two different conceptions of comedy. As King (2002) explains, “comedy in the
sense of laughter, anarchy and disruption of harmony, and comedy in the sense of a movement
towards harmony, integration and the happy ending.”

As Chandler (1997) points out, “some genres are 'looser' - more open-ended in their conventions
or more permeable in their boundaries - than others. Texts often exhibit the conventions of more
than one genre.” Moreover, “if we are studying the way in which genre frames the reader's
interpretation of a text then we would do well to focus on how readers identify genres rather than
on theoretical distinctions.”

So if comedy should be seen as the prototypical genre (Swales, cited in Chandler, 1997), for the
general surreality of the situations, the parody, the anachronisms in the mise-en-scène, the
dialogue and the slapstick, there will be also elements of adventure genre, for the presence and the
defeat of the (only legendary evil?) antagonist in order to save the (really in distress?) loved one
(romantic genre) while going through a dramatic (though not definitive) coming-of-age change as
explained in the outline.

As Horton (2000) states, “simply to pronounce the word 'comedy' creates an expectation of
laughing out loud. And yet no comedy ever written or performed consists of nonstop laughter
from start to finish. The degree to which you wish to blend the worlds of the comic and the
emotional is yours to chose, having to do with your overall concept of what you wish to create for
yourself and for your audience.”

6 In the script the yellow highlight is for quotations from the game, while the green highlight is for paraphrases.

5

Bibliography
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media. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press
Black, M. L. (2012) Narrative and Spatial Form in Digital Media: A Platform Study of the
SCUMM Engine and Ron Gilbert's The Secret of Monkey Island. In Games and Culture, 7(3),
209-237. (28 sp)
Chandler, D. (1997) An Introduction to Genre Theory
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Dancyger, K., Rush, J. (1995) Alternative scriptwriting. Writing beyond the rules. Boston: Focal
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Hausken, L. (2004) Coda: Textual theory and blind spots in media studies. In Ryan, M. (ed.)
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Hutcheon, L. (2006) A Theory of Adaptation. Routledge: New York (260 sp)
Jenkins, H. (2002) Interactive audiences? In D. Harries (ed.) The new media book. London:
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Kaes, A., Rentschler, E. (2006) How to read a narrative film - Some essentials.
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King, G. (2002) Film comedy. London: Wallflower Press (260 sp)
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