Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Modern Romances Are Hard To Write

A few nights ago I watched a film called From Weepies to Chick Flicks and I thought it was very, very, VERY interesting.  They showed some clips from films in Golden Age (the 30s and 40s) which were lovely - all those soft lens shots of glamorous movie maidens.  Then Delia Ephron, screenwriter and producer, started talking about how hard it was to make a modern romance movie.

"In the past it was easier to be romantic.  In Jane Austen movies....if you weren't the right class you couldn't be together; if you lived millions of miles away from each other you couldn't be together; you weren't allowed to say certain things that weren't appropriate.  Now there's nothing that's inappropriate to say.  So it's so much harder now to create a sense of romance."

Then she goes on to talk about conflict.

"The most important thing in a romance movie is what keeps two people apart.  That has to be a good reason."

She cites the movie An Affair to Remember when the heroine (Deborah Kerr) is hit by a car and doesn't end up meeting the hero (Cary Grant) on top of the Empire State Building and adds that now...
"He'd probably have her email; he'd just like Google her or something.  That's not very romantic."

And she's right.  Communication certainly has brought people closer - too close in some cases.  Now instead of penning swoon-worthy romantic letters detailing the length and breadth of their love, people just tweet or text each other (or worse still - use those little emoticons) instead of real words.  Don't get me wrong, I use :) and 8( or ;P all the time to express the facial expressions I would normally make if I were talking face to face with someone but I'd throw a fit worthy of an award if a beau of mine only ever sent me smileys!

So what, in today's day and age, where so very little is taboo (eg class, race, gender, age etc) keeps two people apart?


Jackie Ashenden said...

Internal conflict!! That's the thing that keeps people apart. And IMHO, that's the stuff that's really dramatic. Internal conflict must be kind of difficult to get across in movies so I can see why that's hard. But good for romance novels. There is less and less external circumstances these days for people to be apart so it HAS to be internal. How much more emotional is it when the hero feels he's not good enough for the heroine due to his past than because she's in a different class? And people's pasts and reasons for not accepting love are pretty much the same whatever time you live in. Why is it so much more emotional? Because the heroine then gets to show the hero he IS good enough...awwww.... :-)

Elissa Graham said...

It's a sad indictment of our society n'est-ce pas, that the only thing keeping us from having all the romance we could ever want in our lives, is ourselves.

Suzanne Jones said...

This is a great post and that sounds likea terrific film.

I've heard several historical writers say they prefer to write about long ago because mobiles and e-mail can ruin a good story.