Last week, I talked about some writing books I’ve found inspiring and helpful; this week I thought I’d share some movies that always serve as a creativity jumpstart for me.
Shakespeare In Love: (1998) This film, written by Tom Stoppard and directed by Mark Madden, won Best Picture in 1998, and gives the “back story” of the writing of Romeo and Juliet. With fantastic performances by Joseph Fiennes, Ben Affleck, Gwyneth Paltrow (she won her Oscar for this movie), Geoffrey Rush, Judi Dench (who also won an Oscar for this movie), and Colin Firth, it may not be based in reality, but it’s a wonderfully funny film, especially if you’re a Shakespeare fan. The costumes are sumptuous as well.
The reason it inspires creativity is because the basic premise of the movie is that Shakespeare (Fiennes) has writer’s block–and he solves it by falling in love with Lady Viola (Paltrow), who is, alas, already engaged, to Lord Wessex (Firth). The movie takes us into Will’s world, both onstage and backstage, and demonstrates that writers can’t just write good things at the drop of a hat. This is an excellent movie for when you’re facing any sort of creative block.
The Hours: (2002): OK, guys. This movie is not for everyone. But if you’re interested in the life of Virginia Woolf, this is a great movie. Nicole Kidman won her Oscar for her performance as Woolf, and the film was also nominated for Best Picture. Every time I watch this, I’m motivated to dive back into my writing and journaling. And the music, by Philip Glass, is incandescent. The novel is also on my list of favorite books.
The Red Shoes (1948): Not about writing, but about dance, and art in general. Nominated for Best Picture, the film is a retelling/adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s story The Red Shoes, which compel the wearer to dance to death. In this case, the story revolves around an up and coming ballerina (Moira Shearer), the impresario who becomes infatuated with her talent, and the composer whom she loves. The film demonstrates the physical effort involved in creating beautiful art and the extremes that are to be avoided in its creation!
Babette’s Feast (1987): This shows creativity in the kitchen. If you’ve never seen it, please do so, but eat first. This is the story two single sisters, who live quite lives stripped of luxury, until their devoted cook, Babette, wins the French lottery and wishes to cook a meal for the sisters and their friends. The film is based on Karen Blixen (Out of Africa)‘ s short story. A wonderful fable of hospitality and virtue, but also creativity: watch how carefully Babette prepares the course of her meal, in every stage of its development.
Becoming Jane (2007): Of course, this one. This biopic, based on Jon Spence’s Becoming Jane Austen, focuses on Jane’s (Anne Hathaway) relationship with the young lawyer Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy), and the writing of Pride and Prejudice.