Summertime — and the manuscript's finished, the revisions haven't begun, I've blown through some proposals — so it's movie time for me! I love going to the movies, though this summer I've been so busy that I've seen only a couple so far – loved the newest Harry Potter, and Star Trek, too. Otherwise, the cheaper, cozier alternative is movies at home, especially good when the weather is bad or it's too hot and muggy (like today! ughh!) to do much else, and if my husband and one or two of the sons and the friends are up for watching a good DVD, we put on some popcorn and curl up.
Some people love movies over books, some vice versa, some like me, love them both. I can be far more forgiving of historical errors in a movie than in a novel. Movies have the obvious advantage of powerful visuals and sounds — which can be a fascinating shortcut way to create character and story — as well as the dynamism of sheer immediacy, and all of these can combine to stir emotions in a very direct way. Movies have a social factor that books do not have unless we're reading aloud — we can share the story with whoever is with us at the time. Truly nothing can top books for deep immersion in a story, and the print medium allows for intricate details of plot, setting, dialogue, interior thought and intimate description. But film is a powerful storytelling medium … and honestly after months of writing a book, the last thing I want to do, sometimes, is sit down and read. Movies give my brain a break from words, words, words …
Here's a list of some of my favorite movies – they tend to be deeply romantic, absolutely, and with some adventure and action. I don't often go for lots of drama and emotional impact unless there's a big dose of adventure and a good bit of fun. Movies teach a lot about good storytelling – plot, character development, the use of setting, description, dialogue, romance and action, and the all-important stirring of emotion that any good story relies upon. And what better way to do hero research than the movies?!
Some of your favorite movies might be on this list too. These are in no particular order, but I'll aim for a general chronological grouping … medieval through modern.
Ladyhawke — All the mystique of the medieval era, with bravery, nobility, romance, magic, dastardly villains and juicy characters to love, a poignant, exciting story and some great one-liners ("Walk on the left, walk on the left!")
A Knight's Tale — full of anachronisms and full of fun, with lovely Heath Ledger (alas, gone too soon) and a sexy Chaucer in Paul Bettany ("Chaucer's the name, writing's the game"). Some very touching dramatic moments, too. Fantastic rock score, completely un-medieval, and yet we can easily buy into a fun, quirky romance. Not crazy about the princess, but Heath walks away with this one.
First Knight — Sean Connery, Richard Gere, Julia Ormond, Arthurian tales and The Best Kiss Ever. What more could one ask for. Love the visual style – the blue and gold palette is amazing.
Braveheart — be still, my Scottish heart. A bit gruesome at the end, but we bravely tough it through with Wallace, who thanks to Gibson's brilliance, we can love deeply enough by the end to endure … and despite some really wild inaccuracies, the film achieves what few books can boast — the viewer walks away knowing what it FELT like to follow Wallace. And that's worth a fact-twist or two.
Tristan and Isolde — a lovely little film, a story beautifully told. Sigh-worthy.
Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves — though we can't expect much from this super Hollywood treatment, it's a great time at the movies, with a few moments that are top notch for romance and for the romance of the Robin Hood legends. And Sean Connery. Nuff said.
Last of the Mohicans — Daniel Day Lewis and … the Other Best Kiss Ever!!! I'm very partial to this movie, having grown up where the historical events took place (not where it was filmed!) — that fort was a familiar place in my childhood. Ah, the waterfall scene, and the scene where the sister decides her own fate … very powerful stuff. A good friend wrote some memorable music for the score. All good reasons for me to watch it again and again.
Pride and Prejudice — the one with Keira Knightley. Exquisitely done from first frame to last, and features the Best Walk Ever Across A Field By A Hero!!
Sense and Sensibility — Hugh Grant in full disarming charm mode. Nuff said.
Pirates of the Caribbean — Johnny Depp, Orlando, all the rest — a howling good time and a movie that stands up to watching again and again.
Shakespeare in Love — oh how I love this movie. Anachronisms galore. Who cares!
The Mummy — Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, and some movie shtick aimed at 12 year old boys, but once upon a time I had a lot of those in my house, so I have very broad standards. Great banter. Icky stuff, but I can look away until the banter resumes. What's not to love about an Egyptian historical romantic adventure, but for bugs?
The Princess Bride — this has to be one of the most delightful movies ever made. Ever.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon — powerful, beautiful, fascinating, exciting. Endlessly watchable. My kids are martial artists, so I have acquired an interest, and this movie was right up my alley as a martial artist's romance-writing mom.
10 Things I Hate About You — a fabulous little film, Heath Ledger again, Julia Stiles very sharp as always. A brilliant, fun twist on Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew.
Bridget Jones' Diary — I could watch the ending a zillion times. And probably have done so, since there are channel-surfing guys with cable in my house. They may stop at a vampire movie, but I'll make them flip back to the end of Bridget Jones one more time.
Romancing the Stone — a romance writer's dream movie — who could ever tire of the mudslide, the smot-poking in the plane, or the druglord yelling, "Joan Wilder!!"
Notting Hill — Hugh Grant. Julia Roberts — a sweet charming movie with a solid, heart tugging romance.
So there you go, a list to take with you to the video store — and a list to add to! There are a slew of movies I left out…. never enough time, let along blog length, to list them all.
What are some of YOUR favorite romantic, fun films? And which do you prefer, books, movies or love-them-equally, and why so?
Susan Sarah, wondering where her copy of Ladyhawke is ….