A House Divided: A Saga of the Sixties
HISTORICAL FICTION WAR POLITICAL
1960s & '70s
What's a kid to do when his rabidly anti-Establishment sister rolls in from college while their flag-waving brother joins the army? With one sibling marching in anti-war demonstrations while the other marches off to boot camp, the turmoil gripping 1960's America wreaks havoc on Paul's young life.
Paul's brother shocks the family by enlisting in the army at the height of the Vietnam War, offending their stridently anti-war sister. As Chris deploys to Vietnam and Mary marches to end the war, 14-year-old Paul struggles to make sense of the bitter schisms dividing his family and country.
Paul's youthful struggles grow ever darker as a series of eerie premonitions culminate with his brother being killed in Vietnam. Suddenly mired in a crippling depression, it takes his own brush with death and the afterlife before Paul can begin making sense of the calamities besetting him.
Suburban America, specifically the outskirts of Pittsburgh.
Based on a True Story
Plot - Premise
Plot - Other Elements
Coming of Age,Meaningful Message,Happy Ending,Twist,Philosophical Questions,Other
Mature Audience Themes
Main Character Details
Name: Paul Milton
Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Charming,Complex,Desperate,Engaging,Honorable,Funny,Modest,Strong Moral Code
Additional Character Details
Name: Chris Milton
Key Traits: Badass,Aggressive,Masculine,Confident,Honorable,Patriotic,Aspiring
Additional Character Details
Name: Mary Milton
Key Traits: Badass,Aggressive,Confident,Complex,Decisive,Educated,Sarcastic,Outspoken
Additional Character Details
Name: Nancy Milton
Key Traits: Faithful,Educated,Skillful,Strong Moral Code,Confident
A House Divided would make a compelling film for myriad reasons. An engaging cast of characters brings the Vietnam War era’s struggles to life - appealing to the baby-boom generation who lived through them, as well as those just now coming of age. With groovy, radicalized sister Mary opposing the war, and macho brother Chris - badly jilted on the football field - enlisting in the army, 14-year-old Paul is left to make sense of the bitter tumult dividing his family and country. An aspiring runner and ardent baseball fan, Paul represents a kind of lost innocence, trying to decide where he stands on the day’s contentious issues even as he seeks frequent respite with his band of mischievous friends. Spanning 1967-68 - including the Summer of Love, TET Offensive, and shocking assassinations of MLK and Bobby Kennedy - the once carefree Paul’s struggles to understand these upheavals while also navigating the standard coming-of-age challenges of high school and budding romance. His struggles are further complicated by a series of disturbing premonitions he tries to shrug off - until they culminate in a nightmarish - and eerily prescient - dream of his brother being killed while on patrol in Vietnam. With a deepening despondency coupled with a suffocating guilt - what if his dream had somehow caused his brother’s death? - it takes Paul’s own unexpected brush with death and subsequent encounter with the after-life before he is able to come to grips with these tumultuous events.
DRAMA, POLITICS, WAR
A teenager has to deal with the conflict between his two siblings, one a radical antiwar activist and the other a patriotic war enthusiast. When his brother ends up going to Vietnam War, his life goes upside down. After the boy is traumatized by his brother's demise abroad, a final death-defying encounter makes him see his life on a more hopeful light.
Authors Writing Style: FAIR
Franchise Potential: FAIR
Accuracy of Book Profile
Yes, it is accurate.
Draw of Story
The premise, which sets a fundamental conflict of the 60s right in the middle of a traditional American family.
Yes. The characters' personalities are too derivative and lack development.
Use of Special Effects
THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS
Primary Hook of Story
The attempt to capture a period's contradictions through the story of a common family.
Probably not a large fanbase, but it could be an impactful movie, especially if the drama is well conducted.
It could, since it is a story that could call attention for its dramatic intensity, but many changes would have to be made.
Similar Films/TV Series
FORREST GUMP - A MOVIE THAT TRIES TO CAPTURE MANY PERIODS OF AMERICAN HISTORY, INCLUDING THE 60S AND VIETNAM WAR, THROUGH THE EYES OF A SINGLE PERSON. LITTLE BOY - A YOUNG BOY WANTS TO DO WHATEVER HE CAN TO END WWII AND BRING HIS FATHER BACK HOME.
What’s New About the Story
To show how an age's complexities and ambiguities can affect a whole generation through a very practical example. But the characters could have more defined personalities to make it more unique.
The protagonist is still unresolved and moderate in his actions, while his siblings are both strong-willed and aggressive in their beliefs.
Uniqueness of Story
Not really, the narrative still lacks complexity and a more particular development.
Film - Indie, Film - Streaming
WORK IN PROGRESS
While the story has many positive points, it has room for improvement (see possible paths below). If you can't change the story at this point, my suggestion is using your notes as a guide to highlight the best aspects of it when taking the next steps, either putting a pitch page together, a treatment, or a presentation.
Tips for Improvement
There would need to be some extensive revisions to the story, adding more layers of complexity and giving the characters some unique traces beyond the "types" they are created to represent. It is very nice that the book is able to show compassion and understand these characters' struggles despite their radical thoughts and political positions, but there should be further effort to avoid reducing them to those sole aspects. Beside that, the narrative seems to solve its central, and apparently very complex conflict, in a seemingly easy, uninspired way. To represent a conflict that marked a whole generation, there shouldn't be a simple answer, but something unexpected, that would surprise and captivate the audience. The way it is now, it seems too plain and obvious, something that needs to change in order to enhance the potential of the narrative's great premise.