Monday, June 13, 2011

16317--Write your own story

From the title, you might think I'm advocating autobiographical writing.  That's not what I'm saying.  I'm talking about working on something close to you, that has come from you.  Whatever your creation, it should be something you know and love and respect better than anyone else.

Several years back, there were some Batman movies made for the big screen.  The first two were directed by Tim Burton and the third and fourth were directed by Joel Schumacher.  In interviews given shortly after each director had been hired for their jobs, both men revealed their interpretations of and intent for the iconic main character.  Burton discussed how he didn't understand why anyone who was supposed to be 6'2" tall would need to wear a batsuit to be intimidating.  Burton was clearly a guy who had grown up as an odd, short nerd who had probably been picked on by tall, muscular people as a child.  Schumacher, who claimed to have known people whose parents had been murdered, didn't understand why Batman didn't simply get over the deaths of his parents.  The orphans he knew had gotten over this trauma and Batman should have, too. 

The common element with each director was this odd, almost-proud admission that neither of them understood the main character's motivations and core personality yet were going to begin reinterpretations based upon their misunderstandings.  I suppose that illustrates a basic difference between a movie director and a writer.  Good writers would be taught to view a misunderstanding of the main character as a red flag to learn and understand the character or else see a failed story come from their efforts.  A good writer doesn't reinterpret a story built around a main character he admittedly doesn't understand.  Burton and Schumacher came straight out and confessed that they were the wrong men for the jobs they had taken.  Instead of being allowed to refit Batman to their ideas of what he should be, each man should've moved on to work on his own story.  Look at the success that Tim Burton has with his own stories.  They are odd and unique gems, each shining in their own dark way because when he works on them he is in his element as surely as a bear in the forest.

To look at the issue from a slightly different angle, my personal belief is that Batman never got over the deaths of his parents because he didn't have to.  I blame the strength of the Wayne fortune for that--Superman's bulletproof, but Batman's recession-proof.  If the tragic orphan had been thrown into a life of state institutions and foster care, followed by even a middle class existence of working to pay his bills and afford his next meal, I'm pretty sure he would've found himself too distracted to maintain the raging obsession that fuels his war against crime.  Young Bruce certainly wouldn't have been able finance his creatively non-lethal arsenal and the world travels that provided his preliminary training.  Who knows, though?  He might ultimately have found quiet, powerless happiness in letting his obsession yield to 9-to-5 routine rather than dwelling on his single, shattering tragedy of watching his parents murdered in front of him.  We the people, however, apparently find the focused, driven character who could afford to brood and rage and learn to use that darkness as a weapon to be a much more interesting character.  Let that fellow flourish while using the shallow image of Bruce Wayne as a mask for the dark warrior and we'll pay for books and movies about that guy for years.  Measure that against all the books and movies about Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher and it should be easy to see the value of taking the time to craft your story properly.  Take ownership of it, be a part of it and make it a part of you.  When you've made it your own, then you can bring out its true potential.

Thanks for stopping by.


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