Features

The movie that wasn't made

"The movie that wasn't made" Continued...

Issue: "Books and Movies 2006," July 1, 2006

Then, troubled by his conscience (one of the schoolchildren whose picture appears on TV resembles his own son), a Muslim activist with inside knowledge of the operation goes to the FBI. With his information, and because of the actions of three heroic teachers, the SWAT teams are able to rescue the children with a minimum loss of life. In the final scene parents and children tearfully reunite; teachers comfort students and one another. Interviewed by reporters, one of the heroic teachers makes a moving plea to his fellow citizens to avoid reprisals and instead to work together with Muslims of good faith. The camera pans up to the cross over the school entrance. The symbol suggests both the source of the teachers' strength and the possibility of more struggles and suffering to come.

A skilled screenwriter could undoubtedly come up with better versions of these stories. The point is that these stories-or stories like them-are the stories of our time. They represent the battles that need to be fought now. Not all movies need to be message movies, but if Hollywood wants to deal with issues, why not deal with the crucial issues of the moment?

That would be a change-and change is supposedly what Hollywood wants. One book of advice for aspiring screenwriters promises that if you can come up with a new twist on an old plot, the Hollywood executive's face will light up and he'll exclaim, "No one's ever done that before!" But the reality seems somewhat different. The long list of missing movies suggests that the stories "no one's ever done before" are precisely the stories that Hollywood executives would rather not even think about.

-William Kilpatrick is the author of Why Johnny Can't Tell Right from Wrong

William Kilpatrick
William Kilpatrick

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