Monday, July 20, 2015

TODAY'S NUGGET: Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) - A Key to Romantic Chemistry

[Quick Summary: A movie fan falls in love with a fictional character (who walks off of the screen to be with her) and the real actor who plays him.]

Great romantic chemistry is hard to define.

Billy Mernit comes to the rescue with help:
That special kind of romantic "sympatico" doesn't come out of mere body heat and thin air. Your job as a writer is to forge such a bond by digging as deep as you can into your protagonists' characterizations. What you're looking for is the subtext hidden inside the old cliche, "opposites attract." Two people who seem to be opposites are not automatically magnetic. But they may well have interlocking needs (p. 80).
Note the last two sentences:

1) Putting together opposites does NOT AUTOMATICALLY make them magnetic.
2) But there's a better chance when characters have interlocking needs &/or are incomplete (p. 81).

In this story, these are the opposites:
- Tom is a courageous, privileged, and 100% fictional character. He needs help becoming "real."
- Cecilia is a dreamy, hard working, practical waitress.  She needs hope and whimsy.

ex.  Tom has just tried to pay for dinner with his play money. He and Cecilia walk around a carousel.

"TOM (O.S.): I'm sorry about the money. I had no idea.

CECILIA (O.S.): Oh, that's okay. (Chuckling) It's, it's not going to be so easy to get along without it in this world. [She gently reminds him to be realistic.]

TOM (O.S.): Oh, I guess I have to get a job (Sighs) [He changes because of her.]

The camera stops as it comes to the couple, who are sitting in a chariot. Tom's arm is around Cecilia's shoulders. They look at each other, illuminated by the moonlight.

CECILIA (Inhaling): But that's not going to be so easy, either. Right now, the whole country's out of work. [She's honest with him.]

TOM: Well, then we'll live on love. We'll have to make some concessions, but so what? We'll have each other. [He speaks of their future which gives her hope.]

CECILIA: That's movie talk. [She enjoys this real life fantasy.]

The camera moves closer and closer to their faces. Romantic piano music beings to play.

TOM (Looking softly at Cecilia): You look so beautiful in this light. [He admires.]

CECILIA (Looking into Tom's eyes): But you're not real. [She brings him to earth.]

Tom looks at Cecilia, then kisses her.

TOM (Breaking the kiss, sighing): Was that real enough for you?

CECILIA (Sighing): You, you kiss perfectly. It's what I dreamed kissing would be like. [For once, her reality is better than her dreams.]"

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Romantic chemistry blooms when A meets B's needs (& vice versa).

Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
by Woody Allen
Published in Three Films by Woody Allen (1987)

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