Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Capturing a Writer's Life

by LuAnn Womach

I grew up in a "movie" family. My grandparents owned a movie theater - the Empress - in a small town in Northeast Nebraska. My parents - especially my dad - passed along the "I like movies" gene to me. When I was growing up, our family would attend at least one movie each weekend - sometimes more. Cinema offered a chance to escape reality and watch someone else's life - at least for two hours.

On Saturday night, I watched Beowulf, and was torn about whether or not this movie was good. The action/adventure definitely caught my attention, but the fact that the storyline of the classic was altered for the silver screen bothered me.

That's when I began thinking about how writers are portrayed on the big screen. Do movies about writer's show our inner conflict to find a topic, battle with writer's block, call upon the creativity muse? Usually, no, the movie does not focus on the creative process.

Instead, these movies delve into the psyche of the writer and weave the fabric of the writer's life into the plot because, after all, what is sexy about watching someone sit at a typewriter or computer waiting for inspiration. :)

But there are movies about writers and the writing life that have captured my attention, and I'd like to share 10 of my favorite movies about writers and/or the writing life. They are listed in no particular order.

  1. Shakespeare In Love - Young Will finds the girl of his dreams and pens one of his most famous plays. Shakespeare is one of my favorite authors, so perhaps that is the allure of the movie, but I'd also like to think that Will found his inspiration within the theater and brought that magic to the stage.
  2. Wonder Boys - Based on the novel by Michael Chabon. Story focuses on a creative writing prof whose life is less than perfect, one of his writing students who just completed a manuscript, and the prof's agent who becomes interested in the student's work.
  3. Finding Forrester - Maybe it's Sean Connery. Maybe it's the lure of New York City. Maybe it's the storyline where a young student possesses an unbelievable writing ability and the forging of a friendship. It's good.
  4. Adaptation - Definitely because of Nicolas Cage. Can a non-fiction book become a screen play?
  5. Leaving Las Vegas - Again, Nicolas Cage as a writer who loses everything - including his career and relationship with a Vegas call girl - to the bottle.
  6. Funny Farm - Chevy Chase as a sports writer turned novelist who moves to New England to write the great American novel, only to be bested by his wife's children's book. It makes me laugh every time!
  7. Henry and June - About the relationship between Henry Miller, his wife June, and author Anais Nin. I'm not sure if I remember the premise of the movie the most or the controversy surrounding what rating it should receive when it was released in 1990.
  8. The Shining - creepy, creepy, creepy.
  9. Capote - An interesting look at author Truman Capote when he was researching In Cold Blood.
  10. Bridget Jones - Of course, Bridget always says she wants to be taken seriously as a journalist, but it's her diary-writing confessions that make you love Bridget and her cigarette-smoking, alcohol-counting, food-munching, single-but-want-a-man antics!


Blogger MP said...

Great list. I especially liked Adaptation for highlighting some writer issues.

5:44 PM  

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