Enemy Mine (1985)
Annotated production-used script

This is a production-used script for the 1985 film "Enemy Mine". It was written by Edward Khmara, based on the book by Barry B. Longyear. This script is annotated by John Dysktra, who handled the ILM part of the special effects through his company Apogee Special Effects. The original script was copied in order to be used as reference by the SFX crew, and this is one of those copies. It was part of the materials from Apogee and acquired privately.

Below is an excerpt from an interview with screenwriter Edward Khmara, published in "Starlog Magazine" #103, February 1986. The first part of the interview deals mostly about "Ladyhawke" (there is also a script for this film in the collection), but here is the part about "Enemy Mine".

Ed Khmara

Scripting Fantasy & Science Fiction in a world of medieval magic,on a planet of alien intrigue, this wordsmith crafts the relationshipsat the centers of "Ladyhawke" and "Enemy Mine."

"At the same time he was getting the cold shoulder on Ladyhawke, Khmara got another job.

"Steve [All of Me] Friedman had found Barry Longyear's 'Enemy Mine' and asked me if I thought there was a movie in it," Khmara smiles. "I needed a job, so I said yes."

Though he agreed there was a movie in Longyear's novella, Khmara admits that it wasn't easy to find.

"The story was not structured," the writer explains. "I had to create a linear time structure that could only be inferred from the book. The other major problem was that the story had no real ending. There was just a second story tacked on. I needed somehow to integrate these two things and create something for Davidge to do at the end that was more riveting than what he had to do in the story. "

Apparently, Khmara's script was sufficiently riveting. 20th Century Fox picked up the project — and Khmara with it. They also picked up director Richard {The Haunting of Julia) Loncraine. And then the real work started — nine months of rewriting.

"The script went through an expanding process when I worked with Richard," Khmara remembers. "There are many things that Richard contributed when we were working together that improved the story and are still in there. But at the end, we had a script that was too long and, in some ways, too diffuse."

Loncraine took that script and started to film Enemy Mine in Iceland. He didn't get very far. After a few weeks of shooting, Fox closed down the production.

' 'Richard wanted to make a certain kind of movie," Khmara explains. "The studio did not see eye to eye with him. That association ended, but he's a wonderful guy to work with and a great deal of fun."

"Enemy " Employment

Rather than kill Enemy Mine altogether, Fox brought on a new director— Wolfgang Petersen, who had just finished the big budget fantasy, The Neverending Story. Petersen loved the script. He wanted to make the movie. And, contrary to all the rules of Hollywood protocol, he did not fire Khmara and replace him with his pet writer. Instead, he brought Khmara to Germany and began to work with him on refining the script.

"Wolfgang and I spent months putting it together," Khmara recalls. "Because the script timed out longer than the traditional one minute per page, we really had demands on us, budgetary and lengthwise, to tighten it, tighten it, tighten it. We tightened it far more than we ever imagined we could. We cut out about 45 pages from the previous draft.

"If I wanted to create a sequence and Petersen liked it, we would go to the production designer, and he would make us some drawings or models so I could work from them. It's so much easier than just creating a that and a that and a that and then being told by the studio, 'We can't really film that.' It's not very often a writer gets a chance to sit down with all those people and put all those elements together simultaneously and really see the film evolve. ' '

There were times, however, when it looked as if that evolution would be cut short.

"There were several changes in studio administration while we were working on the script," the writer says. "Each change brought new demands. There was a time when we didn't know if the new administration would decide this was just throwing good money after bad. During those times, Wolfgang and I would go to lunch, and afterwards, he would say, 'Should we go back to work, or just to the beer garden?' "

Fortunately for Khmara— and unfortunately for the German beer industry— each new Fox administration decided to continue with the project. And this screenwriter is delighted with the results.

"I can't say this is exactly the movie I saw in my head when I sat down to write the script," Khmara acknowledges. "It could never be totally that. But it is 80 or 90%. And that 80% is more than anybody has a right to expect. Filmmaking is a collaborative experience, and the movie that has been made came into my vision gradually by working with Petersen and Rolf Zehetbauer, the production designer. From what I've seen, the movie they've made is wonderful."

With Enemy Mine finally out of the way, Khmara is writing another genre project for producer Stephen Friedman.

"I seem to have gotten typecast as a genre writer," Ed Khmara says. "If I could, I would like to write films like Places in the Heart— simple, poignant, emotional. You listen to the songs of a singer like Bruce Springsteen whose lyrics seem like something someone could have said in a moment of pure emotion and feeling. The fact that they can be said so smoothly and poignantly and effortlessly — that's also the best plotting. But it's obviously the very hardest, the most difficult. It's real sleight of hand.

"Working with science fiction, I try to find the elements that are really human. I believe those are the elements that any story needs to make it work. That's what attracted me so much to Enemy Mine — it's that human relationship between the two characters. That's what's important."

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