Often, I keep track of films I watch that have a serious writer’s theme to the storyline. Most recently it was The Magic of Belle Isle staring Morgan Freeman and Virginia Madsen. First off, I highly recommend this to any writer. It’s a charming look at how imagination can and is a part of our lives, along with the story of a struggling writer. Plus it ends well and is a charming, charming story.
One of the things that got to me most about the film was the relationship Morgan Freeman’s character, Monte, has with his typewriter. At the start of the film he says “She’s a black-hearted whore, and I’m done with her.” Slowly, with the pushing of nine year old Finnegan O’Neil, he starts to write again and by the end of the film, you know he is back in sync with the machine. There is a line where Finnegan asks Monte why he doesn’t use a computer.
Monte’s response. “I’m going to answer your question in return for blessed silence. Look at that machine. I like that you have to write a bit slower on a manual, I like the way it sounds, I like the way the letters bite into the paper, I like that you can feel as a genuine human being doing the work.”
Sometimes I forget the magic of using my typewriter. I haven’t had the inclination to pull out the Royal (he/she needs a good name instead of just Royal unless I want to envision Royal Wilder from the Little House on the Prairie series). I actually haven’t had the inclination to do a lot of writing to tell you the truth. However, whenever I see typewritten words or poems I just inwardly sigh in happiness. When I see someone using a typewriter I want to hug them. And when I see the love of a typewriter expressed in a film, it just makes me want to write to the screenwriter and thank them for making my day. It doesn’t happen often, because honestly, there are not that many writer-esque films. So when I do see one, I pay attention.
Another film that made me want to start using my Royal (somebody help me name the darn machine) was Shadows in the Sun staring Joshua Jackson and Harvey Keitel. Along the same lines as Monte, a line by Harvey Keitel’s character says Weldon Parish: “Typewriters make you think about the words you choose more carefully, because you can’t erase them with the push of a button. ” (side note: great ideas, very cheesy film)
For some reason, even though I know all of this it’s nice to hear it in a film, or a book, or some random post. Little writer’s reminders are nice.
Lastly, just because we are on the subject of writer’s films, I want to mention a new film that I HIGHLY recommend along with The Magic of Belle Isle. This film is an independent film by actor Josh Radnor titled Liberal Arts. I won’t go into a description because you can read about online everywhere. Just watch it. If you love inspiration from all around, classical music, good humor, humor on life and college, and just an all around good feeling when you get done with a movie, then you need to see this. It’s charming and you just want to meet Josh Radnor when you get done, especially since he wrote, directed and starred in the film. So so very good.
One last thought. I think the typewriter used in The Magic of Belle Isle was an Underwood. I had the opportunity of having my grandfather’s machine, but it didn’t work and he ended up finding someone that liked those kind. While I still wouldn’t really want one, man, those have got to be one of the coolest looking typewriters around.