Inspiring Movie

I’ll take inspiration wherever I can get it. Usually it comes from people watching, walking, travel, reading or a life changing event. Occasionally a movie about a writer or the writing process gives me that much needed motivation to write.

A couple of years ago, my partner and I holidayed in Paris for two weeks. Exploring the city of love, history, bridges, sidewalk cafes, parks, fine cuisine and art, our dream holiday became reality. One of the in-flight movies on our way home was Midnight in Paris. As we flew across Europe, and the Middle East, Woody Allen entranced us with a recap of our holiday. Hand squeezes, gentle caresses and softly spoken words were shared every time we viewed a place we had visited and enjoyed. Rodin’s sculpture garden, the Moulin Rouge, the Eiffel Tower, pavement cafes, and paintings by Dali, Picasso, Degas, and Gauguin effervesced recent memories and our comments flowed. “We were there… I saw that… I’ve got a photo of… Remember that painting…”

As a writer, I enjoyed more than a recap of our holiday. Midnight in Paris depicted a writer struggling to complete and edit his first novel – a man filled with insecurities as he contemplated a career change from being a successful screen writer to a novelist – a man seeking like-minded people to propel his writing passion to reality – a man knowing the need for good editorial advice – a man capable of dreaming a new life and eventually living the dream. I saw me in this film. I was inspired.

Over the years, I have been both entertained and motivated by other films about writers and the writing process. Finding Forrester, Capote, The Ghost Writer, My Brilliant Career, The Hours, Cabin by the Lake, The Help, The Jewel of the Nile, The Words, Romancing the Stone, As Good as it Gets, Hemmingway and Gellhorn, Eat, Pray, Love, Julie and Julia, 84 Charring Cross Road, Burn After Reading, Marley and Me, Under the Tuscan Sun, The Kite Runner, The Night Listener, Total Eclypse, The Year of Living Dangerously and Misery are some of the films that have provided me with a glimpse into a writer’s life. A few have been light hearted romances with a slight writerly theme, (Romancing the Stone), others (Under the Tuscan Sun) have been memoirs and shown the writer’s lived story, and yet others (Capote) have plumbed the depth of a writer’s struggle. They have all inspired.  If you are interested in seeing a complete list of films about writers and the writing process this link is great, christinakatz

Yesterday, I watched The Words and was besotted with the entire film. Besides great acting, the unexpected twists and turns in the plot, and an exciting fast-paced story-line, it clearly demonstrated what it takes to be a writer. Many segments of the story were narrated, and this allowed the watcher to feel the writer’s words.  This film demonstrated:

  • The solitude of the writing task;
  • A writer’s precious ego with the desire for success but the hovering fear of rejection and failure;
  • A compulsion to get a story committed to paper that overtakes all other life needs;
  • The power of showing rather than telling;
  • The need for a supportive network that propels the writer to keep writing, editing and producing;
  • The interest generated in a story by conflict and resolution, twists and turns and surprise endings that leave you doubting all you have seen and read;
  • The importance of developing complex yet believable characters;

It was a compelling film and one that I will revisit.

Christina Katz’s list has offered me many more films to view.  I am now keen to watch Writers, Freedom Writers, The Door in the Floor and The Hoax, but I will do another chapter of Nothing is Forever before heading to the video store.

What’s your favourite film about a writer or the writing process? I would love to know your suggestions, so I can buy a few more distractions.

P.S. My friend Carol Frei also viewed The Words and here are her observational notes. She is more analytic or observant than me.

Observations from someone who tries to write.

Film: The Words

  • The writer as a vehicle for a morality tale.
  • The choices we make about what is really important and living with those choices.
  • The solitary world of the writer that forces the exclusion of life around them.
  • How a writer must have the thickest skin imaginable. He works so hard pouring his guts out on paper only to have it continuously rejected.  
  •  How his own struggle with the craft, a major crises in confidence, and his desire for success as a writer causes this man to lose his moral center.
  • The two men mirrored one another’s lives.
  • They made choices and both lost the women in their lives because the written words had more value.
  • They had to live with those guilt–ridden choices and it caused them great unhappiness.
  • The subject of plagiarism.The old man said, you can’t take a man’s life as your own, become him, put his thoughts in print and call it yours.
  • This raises a question for anyone writing anything. Is it ever really your own? Are there any original ideas that we haven’t read or read about, studied or had presented to us in one way or another during our lives? I don’t think so, which leaves the writer with the biggest dilemma: if there are no original ideas, what the writer has to say, must be said in an original way with fresh emotional insight.

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