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From the movie Adaptation, perhaps the last good movie I saw in a theater:


You talked about Crisis as the ultimate decision a
character makes, but what if a writer is attempting to create a story where nothing
much happens, where people don’t change, they don’t have any epiphanies. They
struggle and are frustrated and nothing is resolved. More a reflection of the
real world —


The real world? The real fucking world? First of
all, if you write a screenplay without conflict or crisis, you’ll bore your
audience to tears. Secondly: Nothing happens in the real world? Are you out of
your fucking mind? People are murdered every day! There’s genocide and war and
corruption! Every fucking day somewhere in the world somebody sacrifices his
life to save someone else! Every fucking day someone somewhere makes a
conscious decision to destroy someone else! People find love! People lose it,
for Christ’s sake! A child watches her mother beaten to death on the steps of a
church! Someone goes hungry! Somebody else betrays his best friend for a woman!
If you can’t find that stuff in life, then you, my friend, don’t know much
about life! And why the fuck are you taking up my precious two hours with your
movie? I don’t have any use for it! I don’t have any bloody use for it!


Okay, thanks.

 The strange thing is, in the dialogue excerpted above, we
can’t help but have the feeling that both
Kaufman and McKee have a point. On the one hand, a movie in which nothing
much happens, in which people don’t have epiphanies does indeed seem to be more
“a reflection of the real world” than the usual Hollywood production. But
McKee’s right too – there is more than enough genocide and homicide, romantic
devastation and natural disasters to supply as many films as could possibly be
made. This conversation at the end of the writing seminar is like an
allegorical rendition of a genre of experience that we are all familiar with:
watching cable news reportage of a tsunami while we grade student papers,
eating a take-out dinner on September 11, doing chores on the day when a war
begins elsewhere. Adaptation, as a
whole but especially in this scene, serves as evidence that the age-old
question of what it means to be realist or
even just realistic – a question
staked on the slipperiness of the concept of the “ordinary” or the “usual” – is
still very much in play.

Written by adswithoutproducts

February 18, 2005 at 12:54 am

Posted in Film

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