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17 November 2006

Movie Queue: Stranger than Fiction

The Hubby and I went to see this Tuesday night and I. Just. Loved. It. It's about IRS auditor, Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) who has his life interrupted by the sound of a personal narrator, fiction writer Karen "Kay" Eiffel (Emma Thompson) who knows his every thought, feeling and action, including when and where he will die. Desperate to change his fate, he enlists the help of a literary professor, Jules Hilbert(Dustin Hoffman), who suggests that Harold might be able to change his fate by turning his story from a tragedy into a comedy. He does so by telling him to follow one of comedy's most popular formulas: A love story between two people who hate one another.

Enter Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a baker Harold is auditing.

But here's the kicker: in all of Karen Eiffel's books, the main characters always die. Always.

There were some funny parts in this movie. Not the laugh uproariously kind that you would normally find in a Will Ferrell movie, but some funny bits all the same: Like how Harold reacts to hearing Emma's voice. (I read that Will had an earpiece in his ear and was actually reacting to her voice) and the different ways (read: visions? daydreams? actual research?) Karen thought of to kill Harold. I think this movie called out to me because I'm a writer myself. My writer's block goes away when the characters start talking to me in my head. And I've heard numerous times, from numerous different writers, how their characters "take over" and write the story for them, or don't do what they're supposed to do as if they have a mind of their own.

But to the point where your characters actually manifest themselves into real people? And meet you face to face? Could that really happen? Is that even possible? Well, it's fiction. Stranger things have happened. Sometimes I wonder where Stephen King gets his ideas from, but I have yet to encounter an author that kills off their main characters. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here.

The main question I got from this movie was,

"What would you give up to make your work great?"

There was a scene in the movie where Dustin Hoffman says, "It's her best work ever. It's a masterpiece. You have to die."

That's a truly heinous thing to say to someone who wants to live. What's even more heinous? When that same person agrees later on that yes, dying would be best. It would make the story great. The most heinous? Knowing how it's going to happen. Your death, that is. As writers, we write our fingers to the bone to create what he hope is our greatest work. Then we give it to an editor, who then picks it over and marks it up with blood red comments. We make the revisions and then send it to our agent. Who in turn shops it around until it sells. And when it does sell, editors at the publishing houses--sometimes two at once--will once again pick it over, covering it in red comments and send it back to you for revisions.

At this point, maybe the during the first initial stages, you realize that what you thought made your story great now has to be cut in half. Or totally cut out. For whatever reason. Words, sentences, paragraphs, or whole chapters. Sometimes all the above. But something has to change to make it better, greater.

So is that considered to be a sacrifice or a compromise?

Rating: 4 Snaps Up


posted by GeminiWisdom @ 6:18 PM |


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