Monday, April 09, 2007

March 22, 2007

Dear Sis~
I watched the movie Titanic the other night, for the first time in years, and was reminded again what a good flick it is. Now, in some circles, it's been stylish to sneer and denigrate Titanic
as a syrupy, overblown cinematic soap opera (this is usually the artsy, literary crowd who view themselves as self-appointed guardians of artistic culture) but for me, the movie passes my own litmus test in telling a good story. It can be easy (as a writer/director) to over-think a screenplay/movie and forget the most important principle, which is to entertain the viewer with a good story. I know when I write, whether it's one of my short stories or one of my novels, I'm trying to do several things (educate the reader about particular things, open up a different perspective on a given subject matter) but everything is subordinate to telling a good story.
My published novel Quietus, for example, is first and foremost an entertaining yarn populated with characters the reader will not soon forget. Everything else I tried to accomplish in Quietus was secondary to that first principle. Ditto for The Third Pillar of Wisdom (which, Sis, I still hope to get published one day) which has its share of social commentary but always within the framework of a well-told tale. I confess to writing for a broader audience, though I do utilize a certain literary sheen. Anyway, returning to Titanic, the back story of how the movie was made and the incredible lengths James Cameron had to go to in order for it to make it to the big screen is an extraordinary tale in its own right. It is entertainment in the best sense of the term, at least in my opinion. When the credits finally rolled, I wasn't left with the deflated feeling that my time could have been better spent, which is more than I can say about some of the hoity-toity "artistic" films I've endured. I don't subscribe to judging the merits of a movie (or book) by how much money it rakes in, but there's a good reason Titanic grossed around a million dollars (i.e., a whole lot of people voted with their wallets). There's nothing to be ashamed of by appealing to the common crowd; Mark Twain has his place, just as much as Shakespeare.
Okay, Sis...I'm outa here.
Love & Peace

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