Well, I was doing a bit of writing this week, toying with novel ideas like any other recently-turned-40 corporate drone, and then it all came to a screeching halt.
Because of this scene from Adventureland:
I watched it, then I watched it over again, then I watched it ten times over. And I wondered: how would you go about putting something like that into words?
It must have been simple enough to put into a screenplay:
JAMES STARES LONGINGLY AT EMILY AS SHE DRIVES, VISIBLY LOST IN HER THOUGHTS. HE SUGGESTS THEY GO SOMEWHERE. LOU REED'S PALE BLUE EYES PLAYS IN THE BACKGROUND.
And, just like that, you can borrow all the soulful longing of Lou Reed's song by just playing it at the right moment, thus evoking a state of mind, a time period in American history, and New York, and the ache of the end of adolescence, and the yearning for a soulmate, and the smell of desire and 80's carseat leather, and a sense of aimlessness. Just like that, with Lou Reed's song plastered across a sequence in a car at night under a bridge. And it's not cheating.
Really, how can a novel hope to contend with this medium? Oh, I know, they mustn't be compared, they can't, a literary work will move you in ways a film won't, but that pure, total experience of music over images, simple and straightforward, totally open and unprotected, will never, ever, be conveyable in words on paper. And it made me sad, enough anyhow to put the pen and notebook away for the week, maybe more, enough time to let the charm of those few seconds in a car with James and Emily wear off.
Maybe I'll go watch it again.