Rian Johnson’s Looper has been a long time coming. Though the finished product didn’t hit theaters until this past fall, the idea has its genesis in a short, four-page treatment that the filmmaker originally wrote back in 2002. At the time he was trying, unsuccessfully, to secure financing for Brick. In his frustration he started writing down short ideas he could film on the cheap with his buddies.
Now fans of the film can take a peek at the origins of Looper, since Johnson has posted the original prose treatment at his tumblr. Click this link to download the PDF. He offers this as an introduction:
This is the original four-page sketch for Looper, written in 2002. At the time I intended to ﬁlm it, just with a video camera and a few friends, but we never did and it sat in a drawer for seven years. It’s presented here for the curious, exactly as I wrote it ten years ago.
There must have been great temptation to make some changes and tweak little things, but I like that he left it as it was. Johnson writes, “It’s both very different and very similar to what we ended up with on screen.” The story is recognizable enough, and all of the big themes are present and accounted for in this treatment. He sets up the world, the time travel, and the illegality of the technology, as well as the mob’s appropriation of it. The biggest element is the idea of the protagonist’s willingness to sacrifice everything to save the life of the woman he loves.
I actually prefer the way the scenario plays out in this version to the final version, how old Joe convinces young Joe to do what needs to be done. For me, Looper falters most in the sections with Emily Blunt and the kid. The finished product is still one of the best and most interesting sci-fi movies of the year, but that was something of a misstep in my opinion.