Sunday, April 29, 2012

Writer Movies

Whisper of the Heart, 1995
Friday movie night with my daughters is always fun, but the entertainment isn't always great (avoid Chipwrecked and Air Buddies if you possibly can) but this past week we picked a winner: Whisper of the Heart (Mimi wo sumaseba), a 1995 Studio Ghibli film written by the great Hideo Miyazaki.

In the movie, 14-year-old Shizuku lives to read fairy tales and write new lyrics to her favorite songs. When she finds all of her favorite books have been checked out of the library by the same boy, she imagines a romantic ideal of her "Prince of Books." When she meets the real Seiji, she finds him infuriating and but more complicated than she imagined. Seiji longs to become an apprentice violin maker, and when he leaves for Italy, Shizuku vows to write a story of her own to become an artist with the same dedication by the time he returns.

The movie was a funny, touching portrayal of awkward adolescent love, but also a realistic portrait of Shizuku as an aspiring writer. Shizuku works tirelessly to finish her first novel, and when she does, she's afraid to show it to Seiji's grandfather. She's crushed when he tells her it needs work, but mostly frustrated because her words fall short of her imagination. But she decides to study and revise until the story until it matches her vision.

I loved this portrayal of the life of a young writer. I don't usually enjoy books about aspiring writers, but the translation to another medium made the theme less solipsistic. So I've been thinking about some iconic film portrayals of writers -- Adaptation, Barton Fink, The Shining, Misery, Romancing the Stone, and more recently, Young Adult. I decided that of all them, Shizuku's experience is most like my own, and for that, I'm grateful. Only Kathleen Turner seems to be having fun in any of those other movies.

What movies do you think best portray your life as a writer or reader? Which are most or least realistic?


  1. I don't know that I've seen movies - or even read any books - about writers that come close to my own experience. And since I read a lot of Stephen King, that's a good thing!

    My daughter is a big Miyazaki fan, but I don't think I've heard her talk about Whisper of the Heart. I'll have to ask her about it. Thanks for the tip!

  2. JeffO, it's a different than his other films because other than some sequences illustrating Shizuku's novel, it's a contemporary realistic story that doesn't need to be animated at all. But obviously I really liked it!

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  4. I'm so pleased to see one of my favorite movies mentioned in this post!!! I had never heard of it until a few years ago when it was listed as one of the Amazon recommendations, since I'd seen just about all of Miyazaki's films. I bought it and loved it immediately. I get inspired by it every time. I'm so glad you liked it. It's definitely close to my experience. I started writing when I was a kid and never thought my work was good enough, just like Shizuku.

  5. I absolutely LOVE "Paris When It Sizzles". The brainstorming session between Hepburn and Holden is absolutely rich!

  6. Yay LinWash! Another Shizuku!

    Wendy, I don't think I've ever heard of Paris When It Sizzles. *rushes to Netflix*


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