Yesterday, the wonderful Christine Eyre tagged me for this unofficial movie tag. She asked me to list a couple of the movies and/or TV shows that have had the most influence on me (I assume either on my writing or on my life, she didn’t clarify. But, since I haven’t ever watched a movie I would call life changing, I’m going to focus on how they’ve impacted my storytelling).
This should be fun!
1. Lord of the Rings trilogy
I feel a bit like I’ve cheated, because this was also Christine’s first pick, but I can’t deny that Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy has impacted my writing. Probably not so much as the books have, but these have definitely had their impact. Their impact hasn’t necessarily been in any one thing, but rather in hundreds of little things. The literal worldbuilding that Jackson’s team did is phenomenal, and it proved to me that putting effort even into the little things in their portrayal of Middle-Earth really made a difference and it inspired me to put the same amount of effort into my own worldbuilding. Jackson also wasn’t afraid to reorder events to make the plot run more smoothly. That annoyed me, because it was tampering with Tolkien’s original material, but it also demonstrated that sometimes events can be reordered or altered slightly when editing in order to produce a more cohesive plotline.
2. Les Miserables
My love for the Les Mis movie is rivalled only by my love for The Lord of the Rings. I just think this movie is not only a great adaption, but a cinematic work of art. It experimented with new and different methods of doing things, it took chances and it is quite different from other musicals movies because of that.
There’s also some cool foreshadowing in this movie. For instance, there’s a scene which shows a shot of the barricade, just after the revolutionaries have built it. In the centre of the frame are two coffins which have been thrown on, one being an adult coffin painted red, and the other being a child’s coffin, painted blue. Later on, Enjolras (an adult who wears a red jacket) and Gavroche (a child who wears a blue jacket) die together on the barricade. When Eponine dies the words ‘La Morte (the Death)’ can be seen behind her, which isn’t really foreshadowing, but is just sad. Every time I rewatch this movie, another little thing jumps out at me and blows my mind, so much foreshadowing! So much attention to detail!
Sherlock is, above all things, a really, really good retelling. It might have even got me hooked on writing retellings. This TV series imagines Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson as modern characters, and though each episode loosely uses one of the original Holmes stories as inspiration, it always manages to add a twist in there, to make something new and original. To the extant that, after I’d watched The Hound of Baskerville episode, I went and read the original novel and was really disappointed by it. (by the way, if you want to start reading Holmes stories, I can recommend a hundred which are better than The Hound of the Baskervilles, I was super disappointed by that book. I’m still not over it). Basically, this show does a good job at providing content that will appeal to the lovers of the original stories, will draw new fans in, and will entertain even those who’ve seen myriads of other Holmes adaptions. That’s what a good retelling or adaption should do.
4. The Hobbit trilogy
My feelings on The Hobbit trilogy are very mixed. I love the first one, the second one is good too, but the third one descends into unimaginable depths of terribleness, and yet still had a few good scenes at the end. However, there was one thing I noticed watching The Hobbit probably more than any other movie. The characters and their mannerisms. I guess I’d never thought a lot about mannerisms and how you can use them to portray character in writing, but I think the actors in The Hobbit did a really good job of portraying their characters through their mannerisms, particularly Martin Freeman (Bilbo) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaug).
Freeman twitches his nose. A lot. which always brings to my mind a rabbit, and incidentally, Tolkien describes Bilbo as a rabbit a couple of times. And I was watching a behind-the-scenes video the other day, which included a film of Cumberbatch recording some of Smaug’s lines, decked out in a motion capture suit. It was quite awe-inspiring and he also makes a lot of facial expressions, some of which were actually used to model Smaug’s expressions off. Just the simple curling of a lip, or tilting of the head, was used very effectively to portray arrogance and mockery. Mannerisms are important, writers, take note. Watch Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch.
This movie showed me pretty much exactly how not to write a character arc. Thor’s arc is pretty much non-existent. Jane can’t have an arc, because she hasn’t got any character to start with. The only one who changes over the course of the movie is Loki, and that’s a pretty negative arc.
Thor starts off the movie arrogant and entitled. He gets hurled down to earth, watches the stars with a girl for one night and suddenly he’s a long haired version of Captain America (but much more annoying). That’s his arc in a nutshell. This is not cutting it, guys! There’s no subtle changes, no hints or foreshadowing, it’s just dropped. Suddenly he’s a perfect guy and half the universe is in love with him.
Nowadays, as I plan my character arcs I ask “What would Marvel do?” and I’ll never do that under any circumstances.
(Okay, that’s a bit harsh. Marvel has some good arcs, Cap, Iron Man, Spider-Man…just not Thor).
So, I think it was supposed to be six, but I’m not really a prolific movie watcher, so I’m going to leave it here. (Also, just a note, this Saturday is Easter Saturday and I’m going to be away, so I won’t be posting, but I’ll be back next Wednesday/Thursday as usual!)
Now it’s your turn! What are some of your favourite movies? How have they impacted your writing? Also, I’m going to tag three of you, but if you want, feel free to steal the Unofficial Movie/TV Tag! I tag: MyMusicalAndWritingLife, The Story Sponge and Quinn O’Fallon.