Feelings, nothing more than feelings
Posted by metaphorical on 21 December 2006
While reading Free Range Librarian’s deservedly popular post, “The User Is Not Broken,” I bumped into a G. K. Chesterton quote ( “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it”) that sent me to the quote server Thinkexist, which pushed a lovely Carl W. Buechner quote at me (yes, this is how I sometimes spend my day):
They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. — Carl W. Buechner
That in turn made me think of something that the critic and screenwriter Marilyn Goldin said in a class on adaptive screenwriting. She went around the room asking each of us to name our favorite movie (or at least the first to come to mind when asked for a favorite movie) and say one thing about it that was memorable. Her theory, which was only a tiny bit disproven in class, was that the memorable thing wouldn’t be dialogue, that if it had dialogue, we wouldn’t remember the words, and that the memorable thing was more likely to be an image or—even more likely —a feeling.
I say “a tiny bit disproven” because about half of us named a piece of dialogue (mine was the scene from Body Heat where Kathleen Turner says, “You’re not very bright. I like that in a man.”). But we were a room of creative writing MFA students with an interest in screenwriting, so we were more likely to focus on words than the average moviegoer, and her point was that our words don’t really matter, in filmmaking, as much as we might like. I’ll have more to say about the class, which had some other memorable insights.