Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How to Make a Movie in Paris When It Sizzles (1964)

What makes a great movie?  Does it need a great story?  Special effects?  Great actors?  Let this film show you how to cram great screenwriting in two days!  Paris When It Sizzles stars William Holden as scriptwriter Richard Benson who is struggling with his script, and Audrey Hepburn as Gabrielle Simpson, a mysterious woman who helps him overcome his writer's block.  Together, they guide us to the complex and nonsense intricacies of making an international thriller/romance movie called "The Woman Who Stole the Eiffel Tower".

This movie serves as a good respite from "remakes" and "film adaptations" that currently dominate the silver screen.  Because this film follows what Richard Benson calls "Serendipity":

Richard Benson explains Serendipity to Gab. 

And I think it's a beautiful explanation.  In Benson's words (0:24), "It is to find excitement and happiness in anything that occurs, no matter how unexpected".  You can make a story impromptu by just having fun.  Wow! 

I don't always watch movies about making a movie.  But I really enjoy this film.  When Benson and Gab progress from one scene to another, they do not really know what to write at first.  Sometimes they added vampires and spies and thieves to add more flavor to the script.  If they make mistakes, they edit it out and they move along.  And we the audience forgive them for that because of the beautiful chemistry between Holden and Hepburn.  In the film, we see them play as spy vs. femme fatale, or girl versus vampire.  They even cast themselves in the role of extras as they scold each other on the elements of screenplay.  Benson's film boss appears in "The Girl..." and you would notice how this balding middle aged man giggled like a girl.  Oh!  It was actually Gab (Hepburn) herself acting out the script.

People say that Comedy is a difficult art form to pull off.  But I think it's because people are more conditioned that Realism is said to be dark, gritty, and miserable, and full of misfortune.  This is partly true.  Today's audiences believe that a film should be "realistic" to be considered beautiful.  So war movies often earn a nod at the Oscars.  But we know that life is also joyful and fun, and full of unexpected surprises.  And Paris When It Sizzles shows us that you don't have to torture yourself to create a marvelous work of art.

A positive person will find beauty in everything he senses, whether he is an artist or a critic.  Rules are secondary. When you find yourself playing instead of working, everything you touch seems to be a work of art.

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