Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

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.

4 Responses to “Feelings, nothing more than feelings”

  1. […] In the first class on adaptive screenwriting, Marilyn Goldin said, “You always write long at first. You have have to let yourself be free, to write long.” It was probably the fiftieth time I’d heard this piece of advice, but I wrote it down, gratefully. […]

  2. […] Inspired by Jupiter9’s love of personality tests, I took the enneagram word test at similarminds.com. What I like about this one is that instead of asking impossible to answer questions, you simply react to individual descriptive words, such as “spontaneous,” “researcher,” and “moody.” I think this corresponds with Marilyn Goldin’s theory, discussed here the other day, that people remember images and ideas more than complex sentences and thoughts. […]

  3. ClaireDePlume said

    Best dialogue, storyline, characters, music, setting: Moonstruck.

    Ronny Cammareri, a character nothing short of endearing with his fine blend of comedic melodrama and classic woe-be-gone puppy-dog expressions:

    Everything seems like nothing to me now, ’cause I want you in my bed. I don’t care if I burn in hell. I don’t care if you burn in hell. The past and the future is a joke to me now. I see that they’re nothing. I see they ain’t here. The only thing that’s here is you – and me. …

    Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn’t know this either, but love don’t make things nice – it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and *die*. The storybooks are *bullshit*. Now I want you to come upstairs with me and *get* in my bed!

  4. Great scene, great movie.

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