Monday, January 16, 2012

I Theme, You Theme, We All Theme

Watching the Golden Globes last night I realized that even though I saw a lot of films in 2011, I have plenty more to see before Oscar nominations are announced January 24th. Oh sure, I can catch up before February 26th when those naked golden men are handed out but it looks like I have missed out on another kind of golden award --- an opportunity that I didn't think about until I realized just how many films I saw in 2011.

I was looking over my own screenplay yesterday and feeling rather smug about my theme and I got to thinking about what the themes have been of films I've seen this year. Some were memorable because they were either that well done or were my favorite films. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, for example, had a clear theme of redemption and atonement and even though critics didn't rave about this movie, it was my favorite of all the POTC films for one reason: the theme.

I really wish I had taken the time to think about and write down my personal take on the theme of each film I saw in 2011 while it was fresh in my viewing memory. Why? To ask my self, "what was the writer trying to say? Did he get to say it? Did it get lost in production?"

I'm not suggesting that theme should be in your face or that as screenwriters, we should consider every film a homework exercise but since theme is something I've been focusing on as a writer, it sure does seem like a no-brainer that I would have been paying more attention to it as a viewer. Sometimes, I just don't want to be a writer when I'm sitting with popcorn in my lap.

So, here's my proposal. I'm going through my list and trying to figure out the themes of the following films and your thoughts are welcome, solicited, and appreciated. (I did not include any 2011 films that I've seen in 2012 and yes Joyful Noise was seen in 2011, not 2012, because I was in the test audience.)

Oh, and before you start, I should warn you. When my brother was looking for a job, he moved in with me for the better part of 2011 and we had "bad movie days" where we purposely went and saw movies that we knew were terrible. Why? Same reason you slow down when you pass a car accident. (that explains "Drive Angry") And sometimes I take my nieces and nephews to kids' movies... and sometimes I go without them.

Okay, so you're giving me your input on theme. Ready? Go!
Battle: Los Angeles
Captain America
Cars 2
Cowboys and Aliens
Crazy, Stupid, Love
Drive Angry
Gnomeo & Juliet
Green Lantern
I Am Number Four
J. Edgar
Joyful Noise
Just Go With It
Midnight In Paris
No Strings Attached
The Big Year
The Green Hornet
The Help
The King’s Speech
The Rum Diary
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Mister Popper’s Penguins
Our Idiot Brother
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Season of the Witch
Super 8
There Be Dragons
Xmen: First Class


E.C. Henry said...

Maryan, you left out "Young Adult" and "The Decendants" both of which were EXCELENT movies with great themes. "Young Adult" theme is you can't go back in time and recapture past glories to whitewasho over the pain and isolation you currently feel in life. "The Desecendants" theme is family bonding in times of great loss and descion.

If you like theme, then you'd really like the latest spec. I've penned. It has a very deep theme... AND in a way it's like "Young Adult."

Anyway, good to see you back on the horse and gettin' after it. You Texas galls are a resiliant bunch.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

MaryAn Batchellor said...

I'll write those down, E.C. Those movies aren't on my list because I haven't seen them yet but when I do, I'll check out your theme analysis on each. Thank you for helping with my exercise!