Scene Log for “An Education”

“An Education”   (96 minutes dramatic running time)

Screenplay by Nick Hornby (novelist)

1) Title sequence – 0  – 303

Proper schoolgirl montage.   In three minutes we learn much of what we need to know about our hero in a series of visual snippets.


2) Jenny dinner with parents; dad driving her; she wants Cello, he wants Oxfrod interview

Don’t practice a hobby; she pushes back, argues with Dad; “think for themselves”


3) Cello at band practice; eye contact with boy


4) Talking with boy outside, she’s not interested (schoolboys aren’t interesting)


5) Waiting in rain; David (Sarsgaard) pulls up in cool car, offers ride; he’s worried about her cello; we can tell she’s interested, he’s handsome; puts cello in trunk

She walks alongside car (safety), they talk;


6) She gets in car; talk about car; sophisticated, she’s liking this;

Lets her off; they park and talk; she says she’s going to do what she wants in school, read, art, do what she wants at Oxford; he studies life


7) She’s singing to French music, alone; then, opens a book to read


8) Dinner w/ schoolboy friend over; he’s a kid, she’s bored, above it all; dad lectures on life; dad disapproves of his plans, man to him, “wandering jew”;


9) She’s going to concert; opens note from car guy (David), with flowers; dad a jerk, asking questions; he’s older; dad outraged


10) She’s with schoolgirls, smoking in coffee shop, discussing culture, sophistication;

They exit (sequence); where she’s going in life, going to be very sophisticated (smoke and wear black)


11) Sees David getting out of car outside; she thanks for flowers, he asks about concert; they reference culture; he asks her out for Friday, going to listen to classic music, with friends, says he’ll meet her parents; super afterwards shake hands; walks off with girlfriends


12) At home with her family; dad ragging on her about this “date”; mom sticks up with her; dad is sarcastic; doorbell rings; David’s a jew, she’s sarcastic right back (he’s a bigot)


13) David comes in, hears Dad’s comment about “I have nothing against the Jews.”

He’s warm, glib and funny; dad apologies profusely; David compliments mother (she looks like Jenny’s sister), then father (you’re a lucky man).

They sit and talk; David compliment’s their home.

Dad has announcement, a question: have her back by ten, David says they’re going to dinner; dad resists, David negotiates, backs Dad down; David kisses mother’s hand as they leave.


13) Running to concert hall in rain; meets friends (couple, Helen and Danny).


14) In hall lobby, Jenny and Helen walking, Jenny compliments H’s fur coat;  it comes out that David is rich.


15) In hall, listening to music; she’s in a swoon, this is what she’s always wanted; Helen just might be bored (foreshadowing).


16) Leaving, going to restaurant;


17) At dinner table, everyone is smoking; she’s talking like an adult; Helen’s asking dumb questions; David wants her to see “so much,” talk about “buying” art; she talks art with them; David invites her to auction;; but it’s Friday morning, school day.

Dannyspeaks French, but his girlfriend, Helen, doesn’t (foreshadowing).

Jenny accept invitation, must skip school   


Music, singer; romantic mood; evening continues;   she’s in her perfect element now;

24: 16

18) Home, mother doing dishes (contrast); they talk;


19) At school w friends, telling them about her Big Night as an adult; friends want to know everything; he was a perfect gentleman;

Teacher comes in; they talk about her “new boyfriend”: in front of class; Jenny is becoming an expert on adult stuff; we see she gets an A on her paper.


20) David waiting by car, Friday morning; she comes out, they leave for auction;


21) At art auction; couple is there; major art; David bids, wins, showing us how much money he has; Helen more interested in a dog on a woman’s lap (foreshadowing); he has her do the bidding for him to make her feel older; she/he win the bid


22) In car going back to his place; arrive with other couple, she’s impressed with all his stuff; there’s a cello there;  they make a bet that he can talk her father into allowing him to take her away for the weekend;


23) She asks his business, he gives vague answer.

They stop, he gets out to meet some people on curb, doing a “deal,” she watches infatuated; he plays with kids (black family), helps them into a new place, she’s in car, watching (thinks he’s helping these people

She opens glove box (cigarettes); we see gun in there.

He comes back; she asks how he knows these people… they’re clients; she’s surprised;

Drive off;  theme of prejudice and class structure


24) School, she’s bored; she gets 52 percent (she’s usually an A student, not good enough for Oxford


25) Home, dad disappointed, blames Latin class; bloody cello, talking French to beatniks, private tutor suggested, he’s resisting; he’s ranting; he leaves


26) With friends, discussing the death of her Oxford dream, family too broke to pay for tutoring; (she “needs” David now)

School boy shows up, hasn’t seen you in ages; she isn’t into him, way beyond that now; he rides off on a bike


27)  parents talking to David downstairs, she appears; David is seducing them, too; they’re buzzed; David went to Oxford (a bald-faced lie, and she knows it, because he’s not told her this; he spins a story to them, she watches it happen, lying to get what he wants); drops names (CS Lewis as his old teacher, they “got along”); this is where he issues invite (after this set up)… she’ll introduce Jenny to C.S. Lewis… dad caves; stay the night, get her a room at the college, too good an opportunity;

Dad is buying to illusion that David could be her meal ticket.

PINCH POINT ONE – right on time (David is a fraud, a scammer)


28) At David’s house getting ready to leave; Jenny with Helen getting ready, making the men wait; it’s like two married couples; H gives her a dress, she has lots of them;

He reveals J will be sharing a room with David, H seems surprised they haven’t slept together; J says she’ll wait; she wants to wait until 17, but that day will be with David now.

Helen presents Jenny to the men, she’s gorgeous;

39: 04

29) In car, in the country; they stop to eat; J wants to read, Helen is stupid (her guy says she’s watching her breath)… Helen is a fraud, too); men spin her up… “don’t talk about work.”

She fakes an autograph from C.S. Lewis;  Jenny seems okay with this now.

Helen thinks David “made up” CS Lewis, has no idea who he is.


30) In room, J comes out in black nightie; she tells him she’s a virgin; she wants to wait until she’s 17, he says that’s good; he respects


31) They stop at wealthy place in country, it’s for sale (their agenda, to rob houses for sale: “might be worth a look” (context)

Helen says “we can’t go in”; Jenny wants to go in, but Danny says “I’m not going to tell you a second time.  We know this is bad stuff, they are bad people, but it seems as if Jenny doesn’t get it;


32) Jenny and Helen walk and talk; Jenny is concerned;


33) they come out with painting… they hurry… they rush off, start car without her… peel away.


34) In car with stolen painting; Jenny seems to know the truth about what just happened; Helen is silly; “just the way we do things.”


35) they arrive back at Danny’s house; Jenny wants to go home, alone, walking; David stops her.

He talks about the stolen painting, it was from an old man who didn’t recognize its value.  He justifies – “it should be with us, look after it.”  Jenny pushes back.  David counters with, “you drink everything I put in front of you, you taste the life I give you; there would be no fun, we need to be clever.”  He explains that “stats” are old ladies who are scared of colored people; he moves coloreds in, old people move out, he buys their flats cheap; he’s a con man.

He confesses it all, you can go back to your old dumb life; she smiles, tempted (he’s the devil); money doesn’t grow on trees… this is who we are, Jenny…. Her smile… she stays…they hug, she’s in they dance in the sgtree; couple sees from above;

THIS IS THE MID POINT – new context… she knows, she’s one of them now


36) Car, night, him taking her home; homework?; boring before I met you; action was character, English teacher said, if you never did anything you would never be anybody… I never did anything before you… nobody has apart from you…. They kiss…

She’s proactively pursuing this goal now;


37) Inside, she pulls out Lewis book (Lion witch wardrobe), shows dad autograph; parents impressed; discuss age of David… Dad’s into him now… life’s a little brighter with him (David) around… parents hooked


38) With school girls outside… smoking Russian cigarettes (watch the face of the girl on the left, she can barely handle this)… she’s going to Paris with them, on her birthday next Thursday…


39) Inside now, talking about the stuff she’s going to buy them in France… girl asks about it… teacher interrupts, pulls Jenny aside… this has gone further than you intended


40) Jenny goes toPprinciple’s office (Emma Thompson); she knows its an older man… she warns Jenny… talks about protecting her virginity, if she has crossed the line she’ll have to change schools (stakes).


41) At home, schoolboy guest again… birthday dinner;  mother invited him (not Jenny)… cake… no make a wish… awkwardness… gift, new Latin dictionary… boy bought her the very same gift… doorbell rings…

David arrives with LOADS of presents… flowers for mother…. Boy says he has to leave… David takes his seat at table… Jenny barely says goodbye…

David is taking family to expensive café, in Paris… with parents… Dad says no… French don’t like us (bigot again)… says she can’t go… Dad’s an ass, selfish…David pitches Dad on how much Jenny loves all things French… David feeding them his pitch (he’s smooth)… Dad gives in..


42) In car… then arrive at airport hotel… no bed… got us a suite… our work can buy us a nice hotel room…


43) In bed, .. he gets out… has a banana… get the messy bit overwith first… doesn’t want to lose her virginity to a piece of fruit… she’s out of the mood now… if tomorrow night does happen (first time)… no baby talk, treat me like a grownup.

Go into sitting room, order champagne, banana


44) Paris.. dog races… cocktail lounge… David announces Jenny’s school grades to the others… Helen is clueless (bimbo)… Danny asks David if he knows what he’s doing with her, he doesn’t want to see her hurt.

Dancing…friend dancing with J (he’s attracted to her)… you have taste (unlike Helen)…the others watch, they know…


45) Back at table… David pulls Jenny away


46) Parking lot, trunk… he asks her to marry him… thought he had a ring…


47) Home, studying.  Parents doing dishes… “what if I got married instead of college”… depend on who it was (Dad); what about Oxford – Dad says you wouldn’t need to go now, all that Latin, all those essays, what’s the point?  Nightclubs… turned out for the best… he wouldn’t want you if you were thick, would he?


48) School room; teacher lecture, Jenny has ring, teacher says take it off, girls see, fuss; school rule on jewelry; ruin their lives, difference of opinion.


49) With the Principle, “how far along are these plans?”  David is Jewish (teacher is  a bigot, too, “the Jews killed our lord”…Jenny counters with “but our lord is Jewish”… Principles says, of David, “I suppose he told you that…”;

nobody does anything with a degree.. how about us (teachers)… hard and boring…

thematic lecture here – boredom, life, color, fun… my choice is to be bored, and marry the man of my dreams, have fun  (An education) – why are you teaching us?

Her life, as planned, is a dead end; someone might want to know the point of it all one day


50) She walks out of school… runs down sidewalk


51) At Danny’s house, with the others…


52) Car; Danny not pleased., David says he’s jealous.


53) Dad worried about dinner out that night (what to order?); David arrives…

Get in car, Dad gets to drive… drive off


54) Pull into gas station… David leaves to make quick call… she goes for cigarettes in glove box… she pulls out a pile of letters…

They are from someone (we can’t see) that exposes David as a liar… she wants to go home…



55)  Home, sidewalk… Mr. and Mrs. David Goldman… he’s MARRIED

Legally only, was going to tell her soon…

Don’t be like this… I have nothing… didn’t take exams… left school… where’s it all gone? 

I can get divorce… it will all turn out…  go and tell my parents, then go and tell your wife… they won’t listen… please don’t make me tell them on my own… you owe me and them that much…

She goes inside, gives him two minutes to join her…he gets in car


56) She’s inside, drinking from wine bottle… she looks out to see him in car, still there…lips quivering… she’s waiting.

Dad sees her, she says he has something to tell you…

We hear car engine… he drives off… Dad tells her

Can you tell us?  Her tears…


57) At David’s with Helen and Danny… Danny says he tried to tell him, they’re not speaking right now.

“A funny world you people live in… you watched me”… their response: “you watched us steal…”


58) Jenny walking up to house; wife, and kid… wife knows…. She’s another one… good god, you’re a child… you didn’t know about any of this… they never do…

You’re not pregnant (that’s happened before)… no, thank god for that…

Jenny starts to leave, wife calls her back… but she walks away.  Wife actually feels sorry for her.


59) Home; Dad offers to talk to David; she confronts, they storm off;


60) In bedroom, Dad knocks with tea and biscuits; says he’s sorry through the door;

“I know I’ve made a mess of everything” … he’s been scared all his life, didn’t want her to be scared… that’s why he wanted Oxford, along came David, she gets what she wants…

David wasn’t who he said he was… CS Lewis moved to Cambridge, so Dad knew, but he believed Jenny instead… leaves tea on floor

Jenny crying in room.


61) Jenny with Principle; Jenny wants to come back to school, repeat last year, take exams… Principle calls her out, refuses.

The life I want, there’s no shortcut… need university… you’re not a woman… offer of a place in this school would be wasted on you.


62) On bus… then, arrives at her old teacher’s house (modest).

Pots and pictures… that’s all we need, isn’t it?  Jenny apologies… she didn’t understand.  Teacher has art, Jenny recognizes the truth… she feels old, but not wise…

“I need your help.”  Teacher answers: “I was so hoping that’s what you’d say.”


63) Montage of Jenny studying… on the bus… in her  room… frustrated, but determined.


64) It’s spring… she’s still studying… challenged, but forging ahead.


65) Home, at breakfast… card arrives from Oxford… she opens… folds it and sets it down, gets up and leaves.

Dad reads it… Jenny waits on the stairs… she has been accepted to Oxford to read English.  Music up.  Slow zoom on her face


66) Jenny’s voiceover, she’s at Oxford, wide eyed and fresh.  Noticing boys again. one asked her to go to Paris with him… she said yes… “as if  I’d lever been.”

96: end

6 Responses to Scene Log for “An Education”

  1. Pingback: Welcome to “An Education”

  2. Pingback: 1) “An Education” – The Opening Act (Part 1)

  3. Pingback: 4) “An Education” – Part 3 of the Story

  4. Pingback: 5) “An Education” – The 4th and Final Part of this Story

  5. Sharon Hampton

    Is there a way one can purchase your ebooks to give as raffle prize for a writers group? If there’s an easy answer I haven’t thought of it.


  6. Just want to say, I consider this an enormous act of generosity for you to post this for all of us “students of story structure” to use. I really appreciate it. Nina B.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

(Spamcheck Enabled)