Monday, May 14, 2012

Why We Watch It Over and Over

Ever thought about why we watch a movie or show over and over again? As a writer I'm very aware of doing this and there are certain movies I will do this with. Being a romance writer primarily, I like movies that can offer a little of everything. I just finished watching The Mask of Zorro several times. Now not only did I watch this movie several times, but every time it came on my cable this month. Why? As a writer I find it has all the elements that are needed and wanted in a good romance. Of course we all love a heroic hero that sets the stage, the fact that he's handsome helps too. The fact that he has a sense of humor, that he has weaknesses like vanity and inability to control some emotions (in this one it was his very strong emotion, hate). But digging deeper, I had to admit that the heroine was no whinny butt woman, she had strength of character, a sense of humor, a love of romance, and a touch of daring do. The plot evolved around saving the people of California, but there were emotional plots running at the same time, Diego had lost his daughter, the new Zorro was battling his hatred for his enemy and falling in love at the same time. The heroine was facing a unknown past which was quickly catching up with her. In all areas, this movie captures your heart. The music as well brought it all together and romanced you. I am completely in love with the movie, it has it all for me and I can sit and watch it over and over, not only that but it inspires me to write more romance, with better heroes and heroines.

Another movie that captures my heart in a different way is Shennadoah with Jimmy Stewart. It's all about family and the price that war causes us to have to pay. Since I write books that are family oriented I find that this movie helps me recapture what family is about. A man with many children tries to ride out the Civil War without taking sides. While forces beyond his control forces him and his family into action. This story is about the emotional struggles of how they handle the hardships and deal with the emotional pull. Who can sit through the scene of Jimmy Stewart beating a sixteen year old Rebel up because he killed his oldest son, and then tells him, "I'm not gonna kill you. I want you to live. I want you to live to be an old, old man, and have many, many children. And when someone comes along and kills one of them…I want you to remember." If you can sit through that scene without crying with Stewart you must have a heart of stone. IF you'd don't feel for Stewart and the kid who killed his son, I'd be shocked.

These are only two examples of movies that bring something to my writng and fill my heart with gladness that I watched them again. There are many others, as I'm sure you have your favorites too.

On the darker side, I like Sleeping With the Enemy. That is one of the first movies that captures the essence of living with a real fear. It's the fear itself that captures me. This woman was abused by her husband, and finally sees a way to flee and make a new life for herself. She thinks the escape through thoroughly for she knows he will follow if she doesn't. The one mistake I think she makes is throwing her wedding ring away too soon and at home. That I wouldn't have ever done. But what really cinches the fear inside her is her knowing his craziness, like putting all the towels in a row at perfect length, and putting the vegetables up in the cabinet perfectly each time. This captures the problem of abuse so well and shows the fear so well. I can watch and rewatch it, and again, the music also like another movie I think of (Jaws) captures the mood and carries it through.

I'll bet all of you have your favorites and reasons for wanting to watch them over and over too. Share it with us today as we explore movies.

Don't miss my newest historical interracial western coming soon, Ask No Tomorrows, coming soon at Smashwords.


Tina Donahue said...

I watched "Sleeping with the Enemy" and although the subject matter was relevant, I found the plot had huge holes in it. For one, he's the absolutely worst control freak but lets her leave the house w/o him and she goes into the city to learn to swim. Not to learn karate to protect herself from him (or to buy a gun), but to swim. Yes, I know, she's a victim and has a victim's mentality at that point, but if she's thinking of running (swimming) away, it's conceivable she would also think of using martial arts to beat the crap out of him so he wouldn't hurt her any longer.

Also, she tosses her wedding ring in the toilet before she escapes. Why not pull it off when she's in the ocean so he'd never find it? Or toss it out the bus window when it's taking her away?

Also - if I'm recalling correctly - she throws a rock and hits one of the lights so she can steal across the beach undetected while he's searching the ocean for her. How likely is it that anyone, except a baseball player, could throw that accurately?

Although I liked the premise, I thought the plotting could have been tighter.

Anonymous said...

Tina I think you are right about this one, but you gotta admit it does carry the feel of fear throughout and makes you root for the heroine in so many ways. However, in her defense, I think when you are dealing with fear itself you are more apt to make mistakes. The ring thing was the biggest, throwing it away in the ocean might have saved her entirely. I think she chose the swimming to throw him off because he knew she couldn't and was afraid of it. My real surprise in this one was the fact that she married him in the first place. He looked mean to me, although at the nursing home he proved he could charm women. Buying a gun means she'd have to murder him and she'd go to jail herself for that but if we are talking reality, at some point you'd reach the "I don't care" stage I'm sure. He grew too confident of his power over her, and in the fact that she couldn't conquer her own fears enough to escape. Over confidence is a downfall of villians. TO me it's eerie, but then I can watch Jaws over and over too and I know the shark wins most of the time. Another thing about watching something over and over is that you learn what you would change in a story and how you might write it better. Or at least differently. She did manage to pull off her mother's death that was faked, giving her the appearance of having some mental thoughts of her own, which was good. His whole downfall was over confidence in having her snowed. I think it's the chill of these kinds of movies that keep you watching them. And music plays a huge part in it. I recognize so many movies just by the music. Jaws, Halloween, and Sleeping with the enemy.

K. M. Springsteen said...

The best movies also help develop a sense of timing and structure in our own novels. A movie of 90-120 minutes has a very specific plot structure and a limit to how much and when. Paying attention to the plot line (main plot action, twists and subplots) in movies gives us a basic structure that works - like a proven formula. Other things to watch for are dialogue and what people are DOING during dialogue. As an editor, my writers are always seeing "but what are they DOING while they're talking" in the margins.

Anonymous said...

Yes K.M. we can learn so much from movies if we pay attention, how to create the tensions, how to make a character come alive with certains tics if you will. They say the old black and white movies relied on expressions and eye contact and so much can be said by not talking too. I think writers need to watch and study movies. Some gestures are worth a thousand words. And it is a proven formula most of the time. Of course we writers do tend to rewrite the story ourselves, but that's another learning process.

Movies bring many books to life, and of course we've all heard about the ones that weren't as good as the book. But I've made a habit of studying the movies, to me it's like having a live drawing board of what works and what doesn't.

I've been accused of watching too much tv, but I consider it a place to work things through in my head. I have also discovered recently that many movies sprang from old tv programs that had a story similar and was reworked. So I'm certainly not alone in my study.

We are lucky today to have so many avenues of study for our work. Not only an endless supply of books, and movies, but people watching is an art that can't be beat too. I'm happy I live in such a time where I can use all these avenues of study for my work.

Stormie Kent said...

There are many movies I watch again and again. One is Dirty Dancing. Don't ask me why. I think I remember that first blush of young love when nothing mattered but being with the other person.

Anonymous said...

Stormie that's one of the best reasons to watch a movie over and over. Some movies just gel with us and to me that means that you are connecting to the whole thing. And to me it's also a reason to look at that movie and see what it has that others don't. LOL

Fiona McGier said...

I only own 3 movies myself, since my husband and kids are the video watchers, while I sit at my laptop writing or blogging.

I own Idiocracy, because it's such a funny look at what I think is going on in the world: people being dumbed down so that instead of trying to better themselves using the internet with all of the knowledge of the world, they look up extreme porn and talk about other people on social sites. Idiocracy asks what our world will be like when dumb people are the only ones to reproduce, then raise their kids to be mindless as well. It's a comedy with Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph.

I own Total Recall, because I like the space travel, the Mars scenes, and the total escapism of an Arnold movie, though I'm still upset with him for being such a pig in his personal life.

One of my kids just gave me RED for Mother's Day, because I love the kick-ass action done by aging, retired agents, especially Helen Mirren, who is beautiful and deadly! My hero!

So those are the only movies I'm interested in watching repeatedly, which for me is maybe once a year.