10 Movies That Inspired Me
I grew up in the 1970s so I am a “child of the television age” where most families had more than one TV set in the house and usually had it turned on all day long…even during dinner!
But it also means I grew up during the summer of blockbusters, a term created after the movie JAWS set box office records that summer of 1975.
My family enjoyed going to movies and drive-ins, but also watching movies on TV. I can look back and see how so many films I have watched over and over again truly influenced by desire to write stories of my own.
Here are 10 movies that inspired me:
Sound of Music- I saw this musical as a child on television and then in the theatre when it was re-released. I was so moved by the music, but also the story of how a family was created, tested, and strengthened by trials. So moved was I that Maria’s wedding dress and veil inspired my own wedding dress and veil!
Gone with the Wind- this movie was on TV all the time when I was a kid and I watched it each time it was on! I never read the book, so the movie has a long lasting impact on me with the Technicolor, costumes, music, and set designs. But it was the story that always inspired me. A heroine who survives war and goes from being a spoiled brat to a conniving adult to a repentant sinner about to lose the one thing she never appreciated.
I walk away from that movie with a new lesson learned every time whether it’s about the civil war, how NOT to make a marriage, and how not to treat a man, to appreciating what you have and not to love money.
Such a tremendous movie!
The Godfather- We watch this movie at least once a year and every time I am amazed at the talented cast, writing, and directing. A writer can truly learn about conflict, how to build suspense, and how to create convincing change in the main character that breaks the viewer’s heart. Sigh. What a masterpiece in filmmaking.
Pride & Prejudice- I usually do not like romantic movies, but this one took a more contemporary cast and made it into a classic movie. I watched the film with the director’s commentary and learned so much more about the story and the interpretation of the story. The director directed his cast as a choreographer creates moves for the dancer. The lighting, the script, the location, the acting, and, most of all, the directing grabs me and takes me into this breathtaking romance every time. Heck, even my husband and teenage son liked it when they watched it with me. That’s says a lot!
Sense & Sensibility- Emma Thompson won an Oscar for her screenplay adaptation of this film and each time I watch it, I can see why. There is no action, no special effects, no exotic locations…this movie relies mostly on the eloquent words spoken by the actors. The commentary on this one is also most helpful in explaining the direction along with funny anecdotes that make the film interpretation even more endearing. The story is one that is timeless, yet each time I watch it, I walk away with something new.
JAWS- I saw this movie over and over again as a child and that probably explains my extreme ocean phobia. The first blockbuster in movie history, this movie never loses its impact no matter how many times you see it. This is definitely a director’s movie because the direction is what builds the suspense. Spielberg used the camera as the shark in the first part of the movie and that’s what scared the heck out of the audience more than any fake shark could! A brilliant move that happened by accident. This movie inspires me to show more and tell less in my own stories.
Lord of the Rings Series- Because my first book series is fantasy/adventure, this entire series inspired me to write my book back in 2004. I tried to read the books, but because I am so visual (remember, child of TV?) I had a hard time “seeing” the world the author had created. So, along comes these films that fans had waited decades for and boy were we NOT disappointed! Fantastic costumes, set designs, and locations inspired me to add more details into my story. The characters, the words, and the story intrigue me each time I watch. How the main character endures each obstacle put in his place helped me add more obstacles to my own story. Truly, a work of genius is the LOTR series!
Chronicles of Narnia- Another film that inspired me to write my book back in 2005. I had read the book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, to my son when he was little and the words always inspire me to try harder with language in my own book. C.S. Lewis also inspired me to put Christian principles into my story so that Christians would see them and be encouraged.
Gladiator-To me, this is a perfect movie: great acting, writing, and directing along with a fantastic musical score; the perfect movie. But what inspired me the most was the story. The heroic general who loses everything only to become a slave inspired me to take my character and put him into the most horrible situation he could face in order to learn what matters most in life: what we do now matters in eternity. Amen! I have to watch this movie at least once a month and each time I do, I walk away inspired.
Star Wars- Last, but not least, the most important movie I have ever seen. Why? Not because this movie is perfect (because it isn’t), or because it has the perfect story (it doesn’t)…but because this movie changed my life. I didn’t want to see it in theatres, initially. I thought a “space movie” would be boring, but my older brothers convinced me and away we went. I will never forget that opening scene and the first time I heard the music. I went out and bought the soundtrack with my allowance! I ended up seeing Star Wars 26 times that summer…and I was only 10 yrs old! Yes, this movie changed me and made me dream up stories and scenes for movies and books of my own. For now, I write books, but someday….movies! Thanks, George Lucas, for inspiring so many kids like me to go out and dream a little dream.
Your turn: What movie(s) inspired you to be a writer? I’d love to know!
Ruth A. Douthitt is a writer living in Arizona with her husband and teenage son. Ruth's first book, The Dragon Forest, was released through OakTara Publishing in 2011. Her second book, The Dragon Forest II: Son of the Oath, will be released in July 2013.