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Dispatch from Writing with the Seasons - August 2023
Welcome to ‘Writing with the Seasons’. In 2023, I’m sharing short dispatches alongside our longer monthly essays and audio courses.
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What's your favourite romantic film?
If I had to choose, it would be The Philadelphia Story with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. It's so full of wit and energy, spark and joy.
Hepburn's Tracy Lord is torn between the affections of Grant and James Stewart. Filmed in eight weeks, that speed is reflected in the fast, fluid shots and dialogue!
But while I adore these kinds of love stories, they follow predictable patterns. Often narrow gender roles, with a female lead worn down by a persistent man.
So I’m also drawn to stories about unconventional, unexpected relationships.
A man who falls in love with a mermaid in Monique Roffey’s mesmerising novel The Mermaid of Black Conch (and, of course, the movie Splash!).
The gentle documentary Hello, Bookstore following a man who adores his indie bookshop.
Zaffar Kunial’s lyrical collection England’s Green is a great example, too. The poet is learning to love a landscape: modern England full of foxgloves, hedgerows and beauty, but also a place of grief and hostility.
French director Zoé Wittock’s Jumbo is a film about a sweet, shy woman who falls in love with a fairground ride… and finds the feeling is mutual. Jumbo, the ride, communicates through light, sound, movement. There’s romance and seduction. They understand each other. It’s an absurd premise, but deceptively deep.
There are so many ways in which we can love and be loved. Whenever I feel stuck in my writing, I know I can turn to these complex, expansive stories about all kinds of love to help me see what’s possible.
Explore many of the films on the BFI Player and the books on Bookshop! Writing with the Seasons is brought to you by Write & Shine, a programme of morning writing workshops and online courses. Summer artwork by Marina Ester Castaldo.
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