Whoever said television rots your brain was surely speaking out of ignorance. Yes, in these modern times of reality television and endless movie sequels, there is a lot of opportunity for terrible cinematic experiences. But then there are truly great movies and television series. For me, there is nothing more gratifying than to find the movies about writing—the ones written to inspire and speak to my crabby, introverted soul. This list of inspirational movies for writers is confined to movies I have actually seen; if you haven't seen them, allow me to recommend that you do.
What are your favorite writing movies?
Stranger Than Fiction
Harold is going about his daily life when suddenly he starts hearing narration in a woman's voice. As it turns out, he is a real person that an author (also real) is writing about, even though the two have never met. If that seems a strange premise, allow me to convince you how wonderful this movie is. In addition to showing a writer in an authentic sense, it also tells a wonderful story of the connection that exists between writers and the characters they create.
I saw this for the first time while in college, so perhaps that explains how strongly I identified with it. It tells the story of a young boy who, like many underprivileged black students, is smarter than is socially acceptable. He is lucky enough to be accepted on scholarship into a prestigious private school and even luckier to stumble into the apartment of a famous reclusive author. This film is about finding the voice inside of you and having the perseverance to get it out.
There have already been several film adaptations of Truman Capote's masterpiece In Cold Blood, but this film looks at the man himself, who he was, why he went to that little town in Kansas, and how writing the book changed who he was. As with many writers, he started with a very firm idea of what he was going to write, but as he explored the players involved, the story changed and began to consume his life. This is a little bit darker in theme, but should not be missed.
Sense and Sensibility (Honorable Mention)
Technically, this movie is not about authors or writing. However, Sense and Sensibility is an absolutely wonderful book by Jane Austen (far superior to Pride and Prejudice in my opinion) that has tightly-packed narrative and relatively little dialog. But Emma Thompson, the star of the film, converted the book magnificently into a screenplay that captured precisely Austen's world and voice. It really brought the words to life, and even the most die-hard Austen fan had no harsh words for the movie.
Books, like movies, or another story worth telling, has the potential to change us—who we are and how we think. As writers, I think we all aspire to do that for our readers.