Next time you need inspiration (or just a productive distraction), try one of these entertaining exercises.
Seriously . . .
1. 1. The English Patient
Consider the difference between what’s meant to be read (Michael Ondaatje’s book) and what’s meant to be performed (Anthony Minghella’s Oscar-nominated screenplay).
2. 2. Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) and Match Point (2005)
Writer/director Woody Allen made two very different films that explore exactly the same idea—but each in a very distinctive style. Which do you prefer? Which do you think is the better film?
3. 3. Clueless and Emma
Two movies based on the same book. One is a faithful rendition of Jane Austen’s classic novel, the other is a perfect “translation” that takes the tale from Regency England to modern Beverly Hills. If you outline both plots–it’s amazing how closely they track.
4. Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson’s version) and Sense and Sensibility (the BBC miniseries)
Emma Thompson’s movie-length dramatization focuses on specific elements of Austen’s novel, while the miniseries offers a more detailed, unfolding view. What is gained—and what is lost—in Thompson’s adaptation?
5. 5. Real Genius and IQ
There aren’t that many movies about being smart—but these two take a comic look at how “geniuses” try to cope with the ordinary challenges of life: growing up, finding love, doing the right thing. Try listing the qualities that allow us (non-geniuses!) to identify with these stories.
6. 6. Lars and the Real Girl and Sliding Doors
These two movies make the absurd and the impossible perfectly believable. In each, the protagonist takes a detour through unreality and returns the wiser for it. What techniques did these movies use to help the audience “suspend disbelief”?
Stay tuned for Part 2, which offers duets for three more themes: Finding Your Own Life, On the Edge, and Art's Complicated. And visit the Writer's Office Bookstore to shop for these films!