A two-hander is a term used to describe a film or play that revolves around two main characters.
The term “two-hander” comes from the world of theater and is used to describe a play that features only two characters, with no other actors appearing on stage.
WHAT IS A TWO HANDER
What Is A Two Hander In Film?
The two hander is a term in film and theater to describe a play or film that has only two main characters.
It obviously doesn’t have to be just two people, but it can be with the understanding that all of the other characters are peripheral to the overall story.
In a sitcom, for example, the main cast might only be two people, but there will usually be several supporting characters who also appear regularly.
A film like “My Dinner With Andre,” by contrast, would be considered a two-hander even though there are several other people present in the film because they are all essentially extras who don’t really move the story along.
What is a Two Hander In Film?
The term has been adopted by some film critics who use it to describe films that feature only two main characters, such as Before Sunrise, Sideways, and My Dinner With Andre.
It can also be used in reference to films where the focus is on two main characters even when there are other actors present, such as in Cleo From 5 To 7, before Sunrise and Sideways.
In these cases, the majority of screen time is devoted to the dialogue between the two central characters.
The term “two-hander” is often confused with “dialogue-driven,” but it’s important to note that not all dialogue-driven films are two-handers.
A good example of this is Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, which is almost entirely made up of dialogue between several characters, but doesn’t meet the technical requirements for a two-hander due to the presence of several actors speaking at once.
Can You Have Two Hander TV Episodes?
“Two hander” is a term for a performance or script that has only two actors in the cast. It is usually used to describe a play, but the term can also be used to describe television episodes with only two main characters.
This can be either a “bottle episode”, where the entire episode takes place in one setting, or an episode that focuses on a particular pair of characters.
Many shows have special two-hander episodes, usually focusing on two specific characters and their relationship.
These often tell us more about the characters’ backstory or can progress the plot further than if they were in separate scenes.
What Are Bottle Episodes?
These are episodes which focus on just one location, with very few location changes throughout.
They often feature one or two characters trapped in a room (such as The Office’s “The Dundies” and Friends’ “The One With Ross’s Teeth”) but can also include episodes where the entire cast is at a party or an event (such as Lost’s “The Constant” and Gossip Girl’s “The Last Days Of Disco Stick”).
Character Backstory Episodes
These are often one-off episodes that explore one of two characters’ past.
What Is a Two Hander In Theater?
A two hander is a play with only two actors. There are many different types of two handers in theater, but the most common is a dialogue.
This type of two-hander usually tells the story of two people talking to each other. These plays are not always successful, but if they are done well, they can be very entertaining for audiences.
In theater, there are many different types of plays including comedies and dramas. A comedy is a play that has more than one character in it and it usually has a happy ending.
Comedies often have an interesting plot and they make people laugh.
Comedies are sometimes called “two handed” because they include a number of characters who talk to each other throughout the show.
Dramas are plays with only one main character who talks to other characters in the play. Dramas tend to be more serious than comedies because they focus on one person’s journey and what happens to that person.
Dramas often include romance and conflict between characters in order to create tension between them.
How Do You Write a Two Hander Script?
In writing a two hander script, you need to make a good plot that can be understood by your audience.
You can make use of a plotline, which is divided into three parts: exposition, rising action and climax.
Exposition is the part where you introduce to your audience who are the main characters and what is their relationship with each other.
This will give them an idea about the plot of the story.
Rising action is where you develop the story and bring it to life. You can make use of chronology wherein you put up some flashbacks or flash-forwards to add spice to your story.
The climax is where everything comes together or explodes. It is where the conflict will be resolved or ended and you need to end it in such a way that it will leave an impact on your audience’s mind long after they have left the theater.
What Is Different About Writing A Two Hander Script vs A Conventional Script?
The biggest difference between two-handers and conventional scripts is that the characters are playing off of each other.
There is a give and take that builds upon itself in such a way that both characters are moving the story forward through interaction.
Compare this to, say, The Avengers. Most of the action takes place in different parts of the city (or world) where only one or two characters are involved at any given time.
Each character has their own story to tell, but it doesn’t get told until they are all brought together at the end.
In a two-hander, you don’t have that luxury. You have to keep both characters on screen engaged with each other for most of the running time.
That means you can’t just have them talking about their day or calling in a favor from someone else.
Everything needs to be about moving the plot forward through their own reactions to what is happening between them.
Examples of Two Handers In Cinema
Two hander means a play or film with only two characters. These are some of the best examples of two handers in cinema.
Before Sunrise (1995)
This is a romantic drama starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. A man and a woman meet on a train in Europe and decide to spend the rest of the night wandering around Vienna together before he leaves on the next train.
It’s a very sweet, low-key movie about two people who connect for one magical night.
This is a buddy comedy about two friends who go on a road trip together to celebrate one of their last weekends as a bachelor.
It’s an Oscar-winning movie with excellent performances from Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church.
The Way We Were (1973)
One of the best movies that Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand did together, this is a romantic drama set during World War II.
The couple fall in love and get married, but they have very different personalities that make their relationship difficult.
This is an Oscar-nominated movie with excellent writing and performances from the cast.
Examples Of Famous Two Hander Scenes
The idea of a two hander can be used in scenes (often recurring scenes) in films or TV shows. The whole thing doesn’t need to be a two hander – just a, often recurring, scene between two characters.
They are often used as a showcase for acting skills, and have been performed by stars such as Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. It’s a great vehicle to show off the skills of one or more actors.
Here are a few examples of famous two hander scenes:
The coffee shop scene between Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino is one of the most famous two handers of all time.
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Kevin Spacey at his finest,interrogating Gabriel Byrne about a secret plot involving Keyser Soze.
The Sopranos (1999-2007)
Tony Soprano’s therapy sessions with Dr. Melfi were always excellent two handers, particularly early on in the series when they really delved into Tony’s psyche.
Dead Poets Society (1989)
The first scene between Robin Williams and Ethan Hawke is an excellent example of what can be done without any action or special effects.
What Is a Two Hander – Wrapping Up
This concludes our look at the Two Hander in Film, with a few final thoughts and examples.
The two hander is hard to pin down. It’s not a cinematic convention as much as a sub-genre.
A two hander takes two characters, who are usually strangers, and explores their relationship through dialogue, usually in a single space.
If you’re looking for writing inspiration, watching two handers can be very helpful.
The structure of the scenes helps to highlight the power of dialogue to carry the story forward and bring characters to life.
You just need to learn to be patient and wait for the action to unfold.
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