Monday, November 26, 2012

Getting inspiration from another medium?




At the recent Boston Book Festival, Dennis Lehane was among the speakers on a panel entitled “Fiction: Time & Place.” At one point, the group of authors took off on a slight but pertinent tangent and discussed some of their favorite films. 

I forget now how the talk circled around to this, probably in answer to a question to Lehane about how he thought his books have fared via Hollywood. (He was pleased, as well he should be, with how “Mystic River” and “Shutter Island,” etc., were filmed.)

But Lehane and his panel then started naming favorite movies– or ones that were inspiring to them with regard to “time and place,” the theme of the panel.

I barley stifled the urge to cheer when Lehane raved about “Mona Lisa” and especially the performance of actor Bob Hoskins. 

“Mona Lisa” is a longtime favorite of mine—yet a film that frustratingly doesn’t get brought up very often, even in one of those “Ten Movies You’ve Missed But Should See Otherwise You’re a Moron” lists that film blogs and publications sometimes feature.

I didn’t necessarily need to hear a favorite writer praise a favorite movie of mine – but I did get a kick out of it. You know?

Without over-praising “Mona Lisa,” I suggest you get a look at it, if you have time. While not the feel good film of any year, it will be well worth your effort.

I leave movies like “Mona Lisa” strangely inspired, even if only briefly. The atmosphere and attitude (God, I hate that overused word but can think of no other) of a movie that works for me is one I will temporarily try to recreate on the printed page. Not re-write the actual story, of course. (Lawyers do tend to frown on that, I hear.)

But more like trying to give my imaginary readers the same pleasure, the same satisfying feeling I get from a well done creation, regardless of medium. I may fall far short of matching the experience for someone. But it gets me to thinking and, even better, to writing.

Do any movies or books do that for you? Or does a work from another medium do this for you writers? 

Or music, perhaps? No less than Bruce Springsteen sang “We learned more from a three minute record than we ever did in school.” And one simply does not argue with Bruce, does one?

Do any forms of art somehow get you thinking, “I’ll never top something like this. But dammit, I’m going to try anyway.”
 -- Joe Nowlan

5 comments:

Julie Luek said...

Ooo a new movie to check out. Never watched that one. Thanks for the rec.

Beryl Reichenberg said...

I agree that one form of creative endeavor feeds into others. It may be the mood created by a musical piece or an impression from a visual work of art. As an artist as well as an author of children's stories, I find that all my creations influence the others. Thanks for the post, Beryl

Beryl Reichenberg said...

I agree that one form of creative endeavor feeds into others. It may be the mood created by a musical piece or an impression from a visual work of art. As an artist as well as an author of children's stories, I find that all my creations influence the others. Thanks for the post, Beryl

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Definitely the new Lincoln fits the bill of atmosphere.

William Doonan said...

Joe,

I saw Mona Lisa when it first came out, and I've loved it ever since. And speaking of Dennis Lahane, Live By Night was so good, it made we want to never write another word. Then an hour later, I wanted to practice writing forever to try to be as good as Dennis Lahane.