Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A little bit of inspiration

Thanks to Ali, I now know how to approach my 15th Century French Royalty biopic.

Let me explain.

There are two projects I dream of putting on film in my lifetime. One is the adaptation of Alfred Bester's Stars My Destination, which keeps getting bandied about Hollywood since nobody seems to know how to approach it successfully, (ME! I Do! Gimme!) and the other is my French royalty biopic - I know, that's a hell of a lucrative field and quite appropriate for a girl who's DVD collection is 90 percent action films.

But I love this story so much I wanted to wait until I knew how to tell it right before I started trying to tell it at all, so I've been sitting on it for seven years.

There is a French queen I have studied and admired and wanted to write about since the first time I ever wrote a paper about her in a French history class in college. Her story is amazing, but aside from some inaccurate cameos in other people's stories and the occasional historical book about her husband, very little has been written about the woman.

The biggest problem I've been having with this story is trying to find a frame for it. Too many stories about famous queens go in a direct chronological order, so what else can you do? Start with a major incident from childhood like Ray? Or start at the end and tell it in flashback?

It just seems like everything has been done.

But then I watched Ali. Ali opens with Will Smith pounding on a speed bag and remembering key moments of his life. The moments aren't about boxing. The moments are quick glimpses that show the way young Cassius Clay was introduced to racism in American society. It's not a boxing story; it's a story about a boxer dealing with racism.

So I realized that the key to framing a biopic is to decide what the core of the story is about. It sounds simple, but I'd never thought about it quite that way before. I don't have to tell the queen's whole life story - I just have to tell the part that drew me to her in the first place. Her story is about her mission to bring France an heir to the throne. Everything else in her life is a part of that mission. So the story begins with the first time she was really made aware of what she had to do. Any part of the story that is not about her desire to have and raise a son is irrelevant to the story.

So now, for the first time in the seven years I've been noodling with this story I finally know how it has to be done. See? Boxing is the answer to everything.

1 comment:

  1. History isn't boring.

    Just throw some sex in!


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