Thursday, 4 November 2010

The Social Network

Had a night off last night and went to see The Social Network, armed with my new experience of being on Facebook.  Not that it helped me understand how the site worked - there was quite a lot of rapid talking about, er, I'm not sure, but it sounded technical - but you didn't need to understand to follow that plot, that was for sure.  I always liked Blake Snyder's rule about keeping a story's theme primal - make it something a caveman could understand - and this film certainly did that.  They might have been talking gobbledygook, but the story is such a clear parable about friendship and the longing to be accepted as part of a group that it's hard to believe it's a true one.  I don't, myself, understand why anyone would want to join one of those exclusive fraternities where you have to humiliate yourself to be accepted, but even I could see that wanting to belong was a driving motivation for the two main characters.  

The Social Network is written by Aaron Sorkin, who was responsible for the wonderful West Wing (also completely baffling in its details, but riveting the human interest) and who knows a thing or two about story telling.  I thought it was very cleverly done and very well acted, but it was a film I admired rather than enjoyed.  There was no happy ending for a start - unless you count all of the main characters ending up with millions of dollars - but I guess that's the drawback of a true story.   I feel much the same about a lot of books I read: I can see that they're beautifully written and that the stories are powerful and they have realistic characters, but for sheer reading pleasure that I go back to again and again, give me a romance any day. 

The first thing I ask when a friend suggests going to a film is 'Does it have a happy ending?'  It doesn’t have to have them getting married at the end  but I do like to see that all the problems in the story have been resolved.  And I like to be able to follow the plot.  For what it’s worth, my absolutely favourite films are The Hangover, The Year of Living Dangerously and Ghostbusters II. 

I’m not good with ambiguity.  This puts me out of step with most of my friends, who like meaningful, art house films with obscure endings where you don’t have a clue what’s going on most of the time (I Am Love, anyone?) and as I hate going to the cinema on my own, I miss out on a lot of films.  But I should use my City Screen membership for more than a discount at the bar, because when I do go to a film, I always end up thinking about the story and why it did or didn’t work, and how I can apply that to what I’m doing. 

Making the most of my City Screen membership

So I came home last night reminding myself to check that my characters have primal goals (hhhmmmnnn, have to work on that - I think my heroine’s may be a little too complex), to give the story a really authentic feel like the film’s, and unlike The Social Network, to make sure that the ending is hugely happy and satisfying (he’s going to gatecrash a palace function the night before a royal wedding).  In fact, what happened to that ticket?  I should keep it for when it comes to doing my accounts, and claim it as legitimate research.


  1. I know I'm a bit odd but I absolutely love going to the movies by myself - mainly because (with equal fervour) I HATE it when people talk to me during the movie! Or just talk. Or worse *steam erupts from ears* talk on their phone. If I'm by myself I can really lose myself in the story and while I don't mind a oh-that-made-me-think kinda movie every now and then (when I'm in the mood) you're 100% right: for a truly satisfying experience there MUST be a happy ending.

    BTW I've heard of people claiming much weirder things on tax as research (eg rollercoaster rides)!

  2. I have to have a happy ending too. I was thinking of going to see The Social Network but I want my happily ever after! I'm so glad I read this first :)

  3. I can understand not liking talking during the film, but don't you miss having someone to talk about it with afterwards, Elissa?

    And Lacey, I don't want to put you off. It IS a good film - but they definitely don't get married in the end!