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This week I watched a few movies that couldn’t be more different. I watched Tokyo Story (1953), The Pianist (2002), Indiana Jones & The Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981) and Unforgiven (1992) all for the first time, The Wizard Of Oz (1939) for a second or third time and for a 5th time or more In The Name Of The Father (1993). I didn’t plan to watch them, it just so happened that there were some playing in the local art house and film museum for only a limited time and others were on TV and I felt like watching them. And although they were very different in their story and plot and dramatic situations, the core of storytelling remains the same. Or should.
The more I know now about the art of storytelling, the necessary elements for a story to make sense and convince you, move the story forward, draw you in, let you feel empathy with the main characters, the easier I recognize it. Even when seeing a movie for the first time. Especially if elements are missing or seem to have no purpose to be in it, or pop up out of the blue. Dialogue, when not done well, immediately stands out and bugs me now. As I am watching, I now somehow, without even thinking about it, place each scene visually in my mind, like a piece within a frame of a puzzle. And then as the movie goes by and comes to its climax and resolution, the puzzle fills up with the pieces and the odd pieces, that don’t make any sense, automatically then fall out of the frame. The odd balls become clear. The ‘why was that in there’ sticks out as a sore thumb. But also in which order a story is told I notice more now and the benefits of that, like in the case of In The Name Of The Father (1993).
And I don’t know how this all happened, that I notice all these things more ‘all of a sudden’. I want to say, one day I woke up and it was just like that. But of course that’s not true, although it did feel like it. Of course the more you’re studying stuff and are practicing it, things start to set in your brain. My brain is making new neural pathways and is building on the world of understanding story, understanding screenwriting. And the more I have been busy with it, the more it has been adding to it and being pumped into that world and for me to recognize and recollect. And that’s nice! I feel I’ve passed some kind of threshold or tipping point to grasping a majority of it now. By no means do I know it all yet and am I now a screenwriter, I haven’t written one yet! But at least I feel I can stand on two legs now and am no longer crawling.
Ok, so technically it should get easier, because I know more. But actually it seems to become harder, because I know more. The bar is raised now. And I know what works and what doesn’t. And to make something work well, takes more work. Much more work. It’s not that I don’t want to pull my weight and do the work, you know me by now, it’s just harder. The mountain is getting higher and steeper. And my muscles aren’t fit enough yet. So that just means more training. And longer. But we are still…game!