Sequels and remakes: This is what makes up the majority of films of the movie industry today, showcasing the lack of ingenuity on the part of film producers who want to either hit the nostalgia button for adults or build up popular, money-making sequels. During the award season, you get a handful of top-notch films that really try to be creative, but even then you have the typical musical, a story about someone overcoming a major illness, films based on popular novels (which plenty of movies are, good or bad), and a few out of the box roller coasters. But this year, Hollywood’s writers have looked to their own kind for inspiration, turning out films based on well-known authors and their struggles in writing now classic pieces of literature. However, these movies do more than entertain if you are an aspiring writer yourself. From finding unconventional inspiration for a story to learning what it even means to be a writer, the films discussed in this blog can be sources of encouragement and motivation for those brave enough to call themselves writers.
Rebel in the Rye, directed by Danny Strong, tells the story of J. D. Salinger, a young student of writing who learns what it takes to be a writer while dealing with the aftermath of his service in WWII, which happens to be where he wrote the majority of his American classic, Catcher in the Rye. Salinger (played by Nicholas Hoult), doubts that he can write an entire book and even that he can be a writer. He finds encouragement in his teacher, Whit Burnett (Kevin Spacey), who, even in the trailer, gives inspirational advice on being a writer. Such lines are “There is nothing more sacred than story,” and “Imagine the book you want to read, and then go write it.” Fellow writers can also be encouraged by Salinger’s story, finding empathy in his struggles of overcoming doubt from himself and others who think he is foolish to write a story with an unstable character like Holden Caulfield.
Goodbye Christopher Robin is a heartwarming film directed by Simon Curtis about the author A. A. Milne (played by Domhnall Gleeson) and his relationship with his young son Christopher (Will Tilston). After serving in WWI, Milne moves his family away to the countryside to find inspiration and peace of mind from his flashbacks of the war. It is from playing with his son and his toys in the nearby woods that Milne is inspired to write his stories of Winnie the Pooh and his friends, putting his son Christopher into the books as well. The film shows not only the happiness a good story can bring to people, but it explores how a writer can find real inspiration from the people they love.
Another film about being inspired by those closest to you is Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, directed by Angela Robinson. The film is about the making of the comic book heroine Wonder Woman and the controversial creator Professor Marston (played by Luke Evans), who was inspired by the women in his life: his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and their mistress and his student Olive Byrne (played by Bella Heathcote). The characters of these women and his profession as a psychologist that inspires Marston to create Wonder Woman. However, the comic books are controversial not only because of his personal life but because of the violence and sexuality in the stories, but Marston will not back down. The impactful message to modern writers is to never give up writing what you love despite what people tell you.
The last movie to analyze on our list this year is Bharat Nalluri’s The Man Who Invented Christmas, which tells how one of England’s greatest novelists, Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens), came to write and publish A Christmas Carol in only six weeks. The biographic comedy shows what it looks like when a writer is trying to develop a character for a story. In one scene from the trailers, Dickens literally meets face to face with his grouchy character Scrooge (Christopher Plummer) and engages in conversation with him, to get to know this character. The movie also shows how demanding the world of publishing can be, including the difficulties of meeting tight deadlines. This story can be an encouragement to any writer, giving them the comfort that all writers struggle at times, even the best.
While there have been and will continue to be movies made about the lives of authors, these movies say something special about being a writer. These films show that writers, if they can rise above the doubt of others and themselves, can do great things with their stories, like Salinger did with Catcher in the Rye. They inform us that writers also have the ability to bring happiness out of a suffering world, like A. A. Milne did with Winnie the Pooh. These films tell us that writers see the world differently than most people but that vision can bring about amazing stories, such as Marston’s Wonder Woman and Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. These movies go beyond trying to give audience members an original concept for a film. Instead, they offer encouragement for both new and veteran writers, and these films tell writers that their work matters to more people than just themselves.