This is the second post in a three-part series.
Yes, there are spoilers.
In an earlier post, I explored the difference between the storyboards for Peaky Blinders 3.2 and what ultimately appeared on film, speculating that the discrepancies led to making Tatiana a more sympathetic character. I’d like to continue that discussion here by making a similar comparison between what was filmed and Rachel Garlick’s storyboards for 3.5, Scene 01 (I recommend you look at them before reading further).
These storyboard are especially interesting because they show the initial conception of the material that would go with David Bowie’s “Lazarus,” one of the most interesting uses of music in Series 3.
First, consider what we see in 3.5 of Peaky Blinders: A ghostly doctor walks down a long hallway to Tommy’s room. As he moves nearer, we see that Tommy rests in a hospital bed, being treating for a skull fracture with a halo traction brace. Cut into the doctor’s assessment of Tommy is a conversation Ada has with the doctor and a nurse: “He was in the war,” she says. “He was in a tunnel collapse. He won medals. Take care of him.”
Interwoven into her conversation are scenes from Series 1 with Tommy climbing down into the tunnel. After this – and clearly time has passed because the halo traction brace has been removed – the doctor stands at Tommy’s side and grasps his hand as he begins to stand. Then, the camera cuts back to scenes from Series 1 of Tommy smoking opium before moving to the present as Tommy smokes a cigarette and gives himself morphine.
The setting for both the film and the storyboard are very similar. A ghostly doctor approaches; Tommy’s room is at the end of a hall (a kind of above-ground tunnel) with light shining down on the bed; he is being treated with a halo traction brace for a severe head injury; there are parallels between his time in the hospital and his time recovering from the war.
In other significant ways, however, Garlick’s storyboards indicate a different original plan.
First, Ada is missing entirely from the storyboards. In the series, she is present at Tommy’s bedside, her voice echoing through his head as she explains that he was a war hero and implores them to save his life. This is an interesting addition. She (not Polly) is chosen to tell Tommy’s story and to articulate the parallels between the present and the past. It suggests he trusts Ada completely and may be laying the groundwork for her new job in Boston.
Second, the World War I material is treated differently. In the storyboards, there are abstract echoes of the war with soldiers’ shadows projected on the walls of the hallway leading to Tommy’s room. The film uses footage from Series 1, including a shot of the tunnel as well as a return to Tommy’s smoking opium. (This would make sense given that the mood of this scene invokes the sedated sensation of the first series. Tommy is fighting for his life now just as he did then, both in terms of his physical and emotional health.)
Third – and the most obvious change – Tatiana and Grace appear in Tommy’s storyboard hallucinations. In the television series, neither Tatiana nor Grace makes an appearance.
The storyboards echo the action of 3.4: Tatiana again wears Tommy’s coat and straddles him in the bedroom he and Grace shared. Then Tatiana replicates her Russian Roulette game with the difference being that this time, she actually shoots herself in the head. In the next frame, the blood from Tatiana’s body is spattered on Grace, who wears her outfit from the benefit at the end of 3.2, complete with sapphire pendant.
I would argue the differences from the series and this set of storyboards continues to show a softening of Tatiana’s character. Just as reflecting Tatiana’s image on the sapphire pendant clearly implicated her in Grace’s death, so does a scene in which Tatiana plays a game that ends with Grace covered in Tatiana’s blood. Omitting that scene and its connection between Tatiana and Grace’s death gives Tommy room to continue working with the Russians. Moreover, for Tommy to continue to have some credibility with the viewer, Tatiana’s character has to be softened. These storyboards don’t suggest that was the initial vision.
So my original thesis stands: Tatiana’s character was revised to make her more likeable. The question remains: Was this a good choice?
(To read Part III in this series, click here.)
Publication Date: 13 July 2016
Related Blog Posts
© APeakyBlindersFanGirl and A Peaky Blinders FanGirl Archive/Blog, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to APeakyBlindersFanGirl and A Peaky Blinders FanGirl Archive/Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.