So Fairy Tale

I saw Snow White and the Huntsman this weekend. Of course. It’s a fairy tale, after all.

I liked it, too.

In the film, I saw images that reminded me of many other films. No, not much reminded me of Disney. Thank goodness. While I love many Disney films, Snow White’s singing hurts my ears.

One review mentioned this new Snow White had a Lord of Rings moment. I suppose. I won’t argue.

What surprised me was when it reminded me–for only a few seconds–of Krull. Remember that? (Yes, I came of age in the eighties.)

Near the end, this new Snow White reminded me of Willow–and not because of the dwarves (which weren’t played by dwarves anyway).

Oh. And part of it reminded me of Princess Mononoke.

The movie, Snow White and the Huntsman is new, but Snow White is an old story. Seems fair to me. Countless stories have borrowed from fairy tales, why shouldn’t a new fairy tale borrow things back?

What influences a writer or a filmmaker anyway? Do they even fully know?

Rub-a-dub-dub,
three arts in a tub,
and who do you think were there?
The writer, the painter, the modern filmmaker,
and all of them gone to the fair.

Perhaps they spend all their time at the fair to beg, borrow, and steal. Don’t you think so?

Why do you think fairy tales appear popular again? Just this evening I watched the final episode of the BBC’s new Sherlock. Moriarty plays his crime as a fairy tale complete with bread crumbs and an apple (Snow White, anyone? Anyone?). Not to mention those fairy tale based TV shows I keep hearing about (but have not watched, must confess).

Will fairy tales ever go away?

Why do I even write them (such as mine are)?

my castle

Do you have a favorite fairy tale? Which fairy tale should filmmakers re-imagine next?

Once upon a time there was a writer, and her Muse kept her locked in room because the writer had claimed she could spin words into gold. The Muse waited, taunting the writer with bright and pretty ideas.

One day an agent appeared before the writer and said, “If you can find the magic words I’m looking for in all the dross you’ve piled high around you, I’ll publish your writing and you’ll be free.” The writer knew in her heart this was a trick, but she was under a spell and had to do as she was told.

She’s locked away in that room still, writing and writing, waiting for a publisher to call her name.


“That’s a fairy tale.”

“Aren’t we all?”

The Writer Games

In front of a live audience, write until you drop dead. The last one writing gets a book deal.

What do you think?

Have you read The Hunger Games? I don’t want to link to it lest I end up with too many people over here. Seriously.

I haven’t read it or seen the film. I’ve decided to read the books, but doubt I’ll see the movie. The idea of the story is depressing enough without adding visuals.

Anyway, I don’t know why I care, but there is this argument going around the Internet that I find annoying. A friend of mine recently stated that he wasn’t going to see The Hunger Games because it was a copy of Battle Royale. Copied? Was it? Well, I had to know more about that. We (as in we writers) try so hard to be original, it is maddening to see someone copy and end up with a best seller.

So I search for reviews, interviews, and whatever else. But after reading several pieces about the stories, I have to say I don’t believe Suzanne Collins copied the Japanese movie. If you disagree, please keep insults to yourself.

But I find I’m really, really irritated about this whole brouhaha over nothing.

I’ve seen comments that go something like this, “I haven’t read The Hunger Games, but I’ve heard it’s a rip off of Battle Royale, so I’m not going to.” Yes, letting hearsay form your opinions is always a good idea.

And this, “Battle Royale came out ten years ago–before The Hunger Games.” Okay. Valid observation. But Collins says she never heard of Battle Royale. Is she lying? One friend said, “People will say anything for fame and money.” Sure. But Collins dislikes media attention and there’s nothing about her lifestyle to indicate she’s all about the money. And not to point out the obvious, but if you’re all about money, writing a YA novel may not be the best choice. And I don’t call people liars without proof.

And until the other day I hadn’t even heard of Battle Royale. Well, it’s Japanese and had a limited release here in the States. I’m not sure why people assume Collins has heard of it. It’s not exactly like she’s said she didn’t know they’d made a movie of Titanic.

I also fail to see what is so amazingly unique about Battle Royale that someone else couldn’t come up with a similar idea all on her own. Am I to believe that in the whole of the world and history, only one person can come up with the idea of young people killing each other for sport? Anyone with a passing knowledge of Greek myth, Lord of the Flies, and reality TV would have a chance of imagining just such a plot. People come up with similar story ideas every single day. Anyone who writes should know this. You write something, and then–presto!–you come across something that is basically your idea. Was it stolen? No. I guess, it’s unfortunate Joseph Campbell isn’t around to ask about myth and collective storytelling.

And finally, am I to agree that only one version of any story can exist? If that is the case, then a lot of people better put down their pens. Battle Royale has a male lead (from what I’ve read about the plot). It is Japanese. So that’s it? No one else can tell their perspective on such a story? You know what, Romeo and Juliet has been written, so please, no more star-crossed romances. What else. Oh, no more stories aliens invading earth. No more assassination stories. No more war stories. No more man vs nature stories. Sorry. Been done. We should have a Only-One Rule. That would save us all a lot of trouble.

Have you ever known anyone who loves a particular band until that bands gets popular. Suddenly they don’t like that band anymore. They accuse the band of selling out. Or they look down at those Johnny-come-latelies as not real fans. Some smug nonsense in that. I hear a similar tone in some comments–they’re so cool as to know Battle Royale before the rabble, anything else pales in comparison. I’ve seen a few comments by people who love BR and are angry that only is it getting more distribution here in the States. Can they be pleased that THG has given their film some attention? No.

You could also read this post about the whole kerfuffle. I found it level-headed.

I’ve been trying to understand why this issue bothers me so much when I’ve no vested interest in either. Maybe I’m worried (hopeful!) it could be me. Maybe the novel sitting in my hard drive has already been done and I don’t know it. I’d like not to be raked across coals by people who don’t know anything about my work or me.

What sort of literary ruckus do you care about?

Oh, movies…

My grandmother used the word pictures to talk about movies. She would offer to take me to a picture show. She took me to see On Golden Pond. I might’ve been in the 7th grade. She really wasn’t interested in most pictures.

I like movies, but I don’t really mind that I hardly ever watch any these days. The movie has to be something special to me if I’m going to take that much time from my life. One thing I’ve never understood is watching a movie just because “it was something to see.”

Anyway, a friend posted a movie meme on his blog, and I thought I’d use it to make a post. Leave your own answers in the comments if you like (or write your own post and let me know).

1. Movie you love with a passion.

The Wizard of Oz And as with any passion, you either understand or you don’t.

2. Movie you vow never to watch.

Used to be Titanic. Still haven’t seen the entire movie, but I did get stuck watching the last hour a few months ago. Now I vow never to watch the entire thing. And most any horror flick. I’ve made a few exceptions, but usually regret it. Oh. And Batman. Don’t care what anyone says. Or any of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films. Or Twilight. Or Anonymous.

3. Movie that left you literally speechless.

Dead Man Walking. Well, I managed to say one thing when the movie was over. My friend asked if I wanted a drink and I said yes.

4. Movie you always recommend.

I hate recommending movies. I don’t want you coming back annoyed at having wasted your time and money. Read reviews. Watch trailers. Take your own risks.

5. Actor/actress you always watch, no matter how crappy the movie.

For a long time that was Harrison Ford, but I haven’t seen any of his films from the last ten years. Can’t think of anyone else. Probably Judi Dench. Though just this evening I was thinking of seeing Daniel Radcliffe’s new film The Woman in Black even though he isn’t my favorite actor and I vowed never to watch horror films. Mostly I sympathize with his efforts to transition from boy wizard and would like to show him my support.

6. Actor/actress you don’t get the appeal of.

Tom Cruise. Adam Sandler. And I haven’t seen enough new movies to know who the hot young things are, so can’t speak to anyone else.

7. Actor/actress, living or dead, you’d love to meet.

Humphrey Bogart. Helen Mirren.

8. Sexiest actor/actress you’ve seen.

Ah, well. I can go for the obvious. Johnny Depp. (When he’s not hanging out on a Tim Burton movie set.)

9. Dream cast.

Hard to say, but it would have to involve Dame Helen Mirren, Dame Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Toni Collette, and Dame Maggie Smith. Maybe with David Tennant and John Cusack tossed in.

10. Favorite actor pairing.

Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Molly Ringwald and Ducky (yeah, you heard me).

11. Favorite decade for movies.

Don’t have one. Although I am usually reluctant to watch any film from the ’60s and ’70s.

12. Chick flick or action movie?

Neither. Don’t get me wrong. I loved When Harry Met Sally and Die Hard, but I don’t rush out to see the next incarnation of the genres.

13. Favorite movie setting.

London.

14. Hero, villain, or anti-hero?

I don’t know. Well, not the villain.

15. Black and white or color?

Don’t care.

Now, this one wasn’t in the meme on JES’s blog, but I think there should be this:

16. Movie you regret seeing.

I don’t know the name of this film, but I was in a hotel bar and they were showing this horrifying, misogynistic sci-fi flick on their TV. After watching three barely dressed women killed in sci-fi dystopian ways, I very much wanted to have my brain bleached.

My son and I did recently go see Hugo. That was a lovely film, and my 8 year old liked it.

And films you’d like to mention are?

Not convinced.

I’ve wanted to make an animated film. I don’t have super-duper software or equipment, so my efforts are a bit low-rent. I’m using what comes with the mac and my cheap camera.

As an experiment I made a film of me making a picture. Nothing fancy–just a simple picture. After I finally got all the pictures dowmlaoded and edited, I realized I couldn’t simply add music. One–I don’t want to be sued, so I’d need permission and I’d have to pay something. Two–I don’t know how to edit music to fit a film. Sure, I can move a music file over into my iMovie, but how to get the rhythm to match the art?

A bit beyond me.

Then I thought I’d at least share my amateur efforts…well, facebook was being very difficult about it and wordpress wants me to upgrade to post video.

Anyway, have you ever worked with iMovie or animation before? Any suggestions?

And in the meantime, here is the link to video. It’s just a little something.

Thank you.