Woody Allen

I've been enjoying Eric Lax's book 'Conversations with Woody Allen' and I thought this bit of 'wisdom' was perfect.

"…I was saying that I want to obey the story and if you obey the needs of the creation of the piece of fiction, the meaning reveals itself.  And for me naturally, it's going to reveal itself in a particular way.  Years ago Paddy Chavefsky said to me. "When a movie is failing or a play is failing"—he put it so brilliantly—"cut out the wisdom".  Marshall Brickman said it a different way.   I told you this before—but just as cogently, just as insightful: "The message of the film can't be in the dialogue." And this is a truth that's hard to live by because the temptation is to occasionally take a moment and philosophize and put in your wisdom, put in your meaning.  I did that in Match Point to a certain degree—they're sitting around the table and they’re talking about faith being the path of least resistance. But the truth of the matter is, if the meaning doesn't come across in the action, you have nothing going for you. It doesn't work. You can't just have guys sitting around making hopefully wise insights or clever remarks because while they're saving these things the audience is not digesting them the way the author intends—"Hey did you just hear that Shavian epigram?" They’re looking at it as the dialogue of characters in a certain situation: "He's saying this because she's thinking this and he wants to get on her good side. ..." They're watching the action of the story. When you lose sight of that, and we all do - I certainly do - you think you’re making your point you think you're infusing your piece with wisdom, but you're committing suicide.  You're just militating against the audience’s enjoyment."


mark cira said...

Great insight from someone who relies rather heavily on his spoken word.

Carson Lee said...

I have that book also; have read only a few parts of it, so far.