Last night, Ryan and I went out to see I Am Legend. I expected to be bored out of my gourd as movies, lately, just haven’t been doing it for me. But this movie took me by surprise and I wonder if it was because Oscar-winning screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman was one of the producers as well as one of the writers.
Anyway, there is a scene that really struck home for me as to what we writers do. Robert Neville, played by Will Smith, routinely goes into a video store to pick movies that keep him company during the long nights he’s barricaded in his home. Inside the store, he has arranged mannequins to talk to because his only companion is Sam, the German Shepherd. Later in the story – and I’m trying really hard not to give anything away! – Robert returns and begs one of the mannequins to say hello to him.
By the way, if you don’t think much of Will Smith’s acting, you might change your mind after this scene.
I Am Legend is about our need to connect with each other. As the last guy alive in Manhattan, movies give Robert that necessary connection to other human beings. Have you ever thought it odd that when we’re among each other in the mall, or in our cars driving through the streets, that we humans get so impatient with each other? We flip off the dude who cuts us off, or quicken our pace so we get to the check-out line before the other lady does. (And don’t get me started on what we do to our family and friends!)
But when we watch movies or read books, we connect to the make-believe people who inhabit those stories. We cry when they’re hurt, or laugh at their follies. We cheer when they deliver justice, and sigh when they find The One they’re meant to be with. Sometimes I wonder if it is story that keep us civilized. Without us writers, what would this world be like? Thoughts?