Posted on Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 6:44 pm by Danny King in the Uncategorized category

While reading these two pieces (both available online) this week, I stumbled upon this glorious contradiction, and figured it was too good not to share.

“What interests me more than anything else is the idea. If a person can tell me the idea in twenty-five words or less, it’s going to be a good movie.”

—Steven Spielberg, qtd. in Thomas Schatz, “The New Hollywood,” Film Theory Goes to the Movies, ed. Jim Collins et al. (London: Routledge, 1993), 33.

“Whenever you have an ‘idea,’ as in a concept that you could explain to someone, like a hook or at worst a gimmick, that is a bad thing. It feels good, but it’s not good.”

—Greta Gerwig, qtd. in Adam Sternbergh, “14 Screenwriters Writing,” The New York Times Magazine, November 25, 2013.

There have been 2 responses to “Gerwig/Spielberg”

  1. Maxwell
    on December 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    I wonder – is there a side you agree with? Do you think the “right answer” is on a case by case basis? Sometimes the idea itself is the way to go because it is so strong/high concept, and other times leading with the idea sets oneself up for failure?

    What are your thoughts?


  2. Danny King
    on December 8, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Maxwell: Thanks for the comment!

    I’m not sure I would choose one side over the other; a case-by-base basis would probably be the best answer I could give. It’d be easy to read these two quotes and kind of summarize, “Okay, Spielberg’s philosophy is the ‘industry opinion,’ Gerwig’s is the ‘indie opinion,’” but it seems to me that both feats are equally difficult to pull off. To take a recent example, it’s pretty clear that something like Oldboy has a ridiculously compelling 25-words-or-less logline, while Frances Ha, true to Gerwig’s statement, is more interesting for its detours and discoveries along the way.

    However, my main takeaway from this juxtaposition—and this might sound kind of corny—is that there’s something inspiring about two visibly gifted filmmakers having entirely opposing opinions about what constitutes “good.” The fact that they’re both thinking so different conceptually, and yet still producing quality work, feels like a completely positive thing.

Leave a Reply