Warning: Minor Spoilers
I recently watched the film, The Words, not too long ago and fell in love with the story telling and the message behind the images. The 2012 mystery romantic drama film stars Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Olivia Wilde, Jeremy Irons, Ben Barnes, Dennis Quaid, and Nora Arnezeder, and was written and directed by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal.
The story follows a writer, Rory Jansen, at the peak of his long sought after literary success, who discovers the steep price he must pay for stealing another man’s work. He gets to publish the next great American novel, but what is hidden to the public is the fact that he didn’t write it.
It’s when his past comes back to haunt him that he and the audience recognizes the steep price that must be paid for stealing the old man’s work. I think what made me connect to the film on a deeper level was how the old man described how he came about writing the now, famously published novel that was stolen from him.
The old man had poured his heart and soul onto the old wrinkled pages covered in ink spots and spilled red wine. The story felt so real and connected better with all those who read it because of the way the author let go and let his fingers be his therapist. The real author lived the words with real pain and suffering and it made those arrangement of words much more deep than anything else Rory Jansen, the writer who stole the old man’s work, has written before it.
I enjoyed the film, not only because of what I believed was amazing storytelling, but because the way they described the old man’s writing process and the emotion that made the words what they were. They pointed out that there was a difference from the books that Jansen wrote before the stolen book and the book that the old man wrote, and they pointed out that old man’s story was still amazing despite all the grammatical errors and misspelled words.
After the old man confronted Jansen and told him about the story behind the book, the old man says, “You think you can just steal a man’s life and expect there to be no price to pay? … We all make difficult choices in life. The hard thing is to live with them.” However, the old man doesn’t want money, he doesn’t want his name on the book, and he doesn’t want a piece of the fame that Jansen had found after stealing the old man’s work. The only thing the old man wanted was for Jansen to know the life behind the words and to tell him about the pain he had to feel in order to produce those words.
A huge part of being a great writer doesn’t have anything to do with being a spelling bee champion or being the best copyeditor around. It’s about opening up the mind, searching your soul and going to deeper places in order to birth a beautiful story. After watching this film I felt the moral of the story was, yes, there is a consequence to every action and decision you make, but that writers don’t just write things if they have nothing to say, and that the best writing is when there is life and great meaning behind the words.