I have this theory that you don’t need computer-generated explosions and cities crumbling in mega-earthquakes to make a good movie. Somehow, and call me crazy, I think the ability to do anything and create any scenario by computer works against the filmmakers of this generation rather than for them.
Case in point. I caught something called The King’s Speech the other week. It’s a modest picture, as pictures go in this Millennium, made in 2010 about Queen Elizabeth’s parents (King George VI and Queen Elizabeth—the Royal Mum to us) on the eve of World War II. The thing that makes the story go isn’t a villain who looks like the devil with his finger on the button of global destruction. The thing that makes the story go is a speech impediment that is bigger than the King of England and thus threatens the kingdom.
Imagine that. A whole movie, and a very interesting one that made me cry, concerns a speech impediment and its effect on a man and a nation. The King’s Speech is a title with a double meaning: it’s the way he delivers his words, the king’s speech, and the words he delivers at the dawn of World War II—the king’s speech. Get it?
In the IMAX, 3-D, super-woofer theatrical world we live in, bigger and louder is equivalent to better. There used to be something called the shark that it was possible to jump, but somebody CG-destroyed that poor discerning shark so, today, it doesn’t matter how improbable the action is. Fifteen years ago I enjoyed the simple quest of a Fellowship seeking a ring not because of how big that movie could get but because of how simple it was. It was a little story of a little Hobbit and his motley friends against really bad bad-guys. The next thing you know, computers got in there and … jeesh. Giant elephants, armies of tens of thousands, earthquakes, volcanoes, and what I initially thought was (I had never read Tolkien) a giant flaming vagina. I was all the way through my first viewing until I learned it was the Eye of Sauron. I stopped at movie number three when the king returned. (It took him forever.) I went on sampling CG movies and tried X-Men, various Spider-Man entries, and Battle: Los Angeles (because my nephew was a star in it). Then I gave up. Stopped going into theaters that were no longer relevant to me because story had been lost in the clamor.
I plumb missed The King’s Speech and I’m sure other good movies because of the constant din all around them. It warmed my heart to find a simple story out there that was rooted in history, and World War II history at that, about a human battling a speech impediment. It gave me hope for another simple story, about a band of rescuers trying to find a small airliner on a vast mountain. As noted, writing of a Fireball screenplay continues and I have to say, so far, so good. It’s a very simple story; an elemental story of Man against Nature and Man against Himself. I have to pat myself on the back because to date I haven’t written in even one CG avalanche, and no abominable snowmen or animated wolves have yet attacked the rescue party. There’s no cute snowman, no pet reindeer, and no princess except for the one on the plane.
All part of keeping it simple.