Barbenheimer: screenwriting edition

Well, not exactly, but Christopher Nolan’s recent appearance on the Scriptnotes podcast was excellent and inspired me to check out Greta Gerwig’s 2020 appearance (transcript, podcast) for Little Women too. Both have really thoughtful things to say about the craft of writing and how it relates to moviemaking.

Here’s Gerwig on the ache of absence in Little Women:

I realized that once they’re all in their separate lives—like once Amy is in Europe, once Meg is married, once Beth is living at home but sick, and Jo is in New York trying to sell stories—they are never all together again. The thing that we think of as Little Women has already passed. And I think that ache and that absence of the togetherness and that absence of the sisterhood as being the way that we contextualize these cozy scenes brought out something in me that felt was inherent in the text.


And then beyond that this relationship of Louisa to the text and me to the text, I think that what artists do is you write it down because you can’t save anyone’s life. I think that’s part of what the impulse is. I can’t save your life, but I can write it down. And I can’t get that moment back, but I can write it down.

This idea is reflected in the exchange near the end of the movie:

JO: Who will be interested in a story of domestic struggles and joys? It doesn’t have any real importance.

AMY: Maybe we don’t see those things as important because people don’t write about them.

JO: No, writing doesn’t confer importance, it reflects it.

AMY: Perhaps writing will make them more important.