We all love words. Some of the most memorable movies owe deference to a few good lines of speech. The Untouchables with Sean Connery, many a Clint Eastwood movie, all the way back to the “…frankly, my dear, [Scarlett] I don’t give a damn”, all stick in our memories as wonderful lines of dialogue, exact, though perhaps unexpected, for the particular setting.
Movies and television shows can only do so much of that as the plot would quickly fall to pieces as slapstick of whose line is the best. So, movie makers know their value but are careful to use them wisely and sparsely.
Some movies are great for the scenery. I am convinced I know every mountain range in New Zealand after viewing the Lord of the Rings series. Many sci-fi movies get by on magnificent animated scenes that dazzle the eye and the intellect with the brilliance so bragged about by Timothy Leary and his experiments with mind altering substances.
Plot is often minor in some movies. If present at all, it can certainly add to the effectiveness of drawing on your emotions and pulling you into the story for a few hours. We take the ride to escape for a short time, as well we should. Sometimes we are just entertained, sometimes we gain new and useful insight into other worlds, or as I mentioned at the outset we come away with a most memorable line of dialogue.
I love books so much more than movies, though I would be less than happy should only one or the other be available. The written word can take you anywhere, invite you to conjure up again and again settings even beyond the mountains of New Zealand, and without a quiver of redundancy or overuse, allow brilliant dialogue and description to flow with the force and magnificence of Niagara Falls.
Each sentence offers the possibility of being a precious gem of constructed beauty, a paragraph might conjure up a sculptured statue offering both creativity and brilliance, a chapter can toss you on a sea of peril, leave you safe upon a sandy beach, or better still, make you beg for the storm to abate when you reach the end of the chapter; and so you must go on to the next.
I find that reading something brings me closer. In a movie you see the mountain. In a book you experience the mountain as the author describes the dark step face of a mountain range, stretching into the clouds, and with a few words more, lets you feel the danger as he brings you up close to where the heroes slip hesitantly along the path…”slick ice and nowhere to hold on, the wind battered their bodies against the slippery face. They climbed along a few inches of steep trail that, should they fall, the sound of the scream would be lost well before the tumble on the searing rocks below.”
I find that novels invite you in. Like in a poem you are asked to provide your own interpretation. There is enough direction to move you along with the plot, but each reader will find a very personal path of circumstance and character, setting and emotion.
There is evidence in this brave new world that storytelling is hard-wired. Reading a story is not much different to the brain than actually experiencing what you are reading—yup, whiskey and women.