Monday, December 2, 2013

Creative Style and Pathos in “The Notebook”

The movie The Notebook, released in 2004 is based on The Notebook written by Nicholas Sparks. The use of pathos is what draws the audience members to the characters and helps them feel empathetic towards the characters and is used in every film is some way. The screenwriter uses elements of the creative style to establish pathos that both draws audience members in and to helps create a connection to the characters.
The production company needs to make back the money spent making the movie so the movie needs to be of interest to a vast number of people so the pathos of the piece should be appealing and interesting to the majority of potential movie goers. Screenwriter Jeremy Leven’s contribution to the movie version of The Notebook was to stay true to the elements of love and faith as they are illustrated in Sparks’ novel. “[New Line] didn't approach Leven as an unknown quantity. “My novels,” says Leven (and “a lot of my screenplays,” he's quick to add), “basically deal with love and faith, and religion.” So he assumes, when asked by a studio to write for them, that “love and faith is what the studio is after, not something else” (HollywoodJesus). The screenwriter of the film is as much responsible for the construction of pathos as the director. Where the director creates pathos on the screen the, screenwriter creates pathos on the page. Inspired by real people and tweaked by the screenwriter to be more universal, the Notebook was intended to portray a “a rare and beautiful relationship, one that withstood the test of time and circumstance” (Sparks).
The first lines of the movie, a voice-over of Noah narrating, provide a little exposition to set the stage as the movie goer enters into in the story. “[The first scene of a movie] throws us into its world, introduces us it to its characters and establishes its tone” (Mecca). An emotional connection is created with the narrator, Noah, in The Notebook. It draws the viewer into the storyline of the movie. The movie is not about anyone particularly special, just an everyday person that could be anyone in the audience. The initial repetition of the word ‘common’ is important because the use of a diacope helps indicate that the fact that the characters are common is important. The use of parallelism “common man”, “common thoughts”, “common life” serves to enhance the commonality of the narrator as perceived by the viewer (The Notebook).
The idea that this story is about a common person is important to frame a connection to the audience, the majority of who consider themselves common as well. The movie follows this “common” character through his journey to be with the woman he loves and then his mission to help the woman in the nursing home remember that she is the woman in the story he is reading to her which he believes will bring her out of a state of dementia and bring her back to him, even for a few moments. The commonality lets the audience members who do not have experience with dementia connect more fully to the characters and lets the audience members who do have experience with dementia relate at a deeper level of understanding and empathy. The author, Nicholas Sparks speaks to the success of The Notebook saying, “the story touched people in a deeply personal way. It seems that nearly everyone I spoke with about the novel knew a “Noah and Allie” in their own life” (Sparks).
The simple poetic lines also serve to capture complexity of experiences. Noah says, “I've succeeded as gloriously as anyone who ever lived. I've loved another with all my heart and soul, and for me that has always been enough” (The Notebook). The introduction shows how the characters are just common, everyday people, while at the same time it shows how wonderfully simplistic it can sound with how complex it truly is. As Noah says, he has “succeeded as gloriously as anyone who ever lived” (The Notebook). This simile is both profound and reductive at once. A “common” man has “succeeded as gloriously as anyone who ever lived”, a task not every “common” person can so easily declare. The commonality of the story prevents the alienation of audience members who may not have first-hand experience with dementia and keep them emotionally invested to the characters and the plot development.
Not only do the opening lines speak to anyone who has “no monuments dedicated” to them, it also calls to those who have loved with all they had, “heart and soul”, and draws them into the story of someone who could just as easily have been them (The Notebook). The lines serve to both capture the complexity of everyday life and to build a connection to Noah, the narrator and the other characters in the movie. The use of pathos is important in the establishment of a connection between the characters and the audience members. The creative style helps make the piece poetic and flow in a romantic way that adds to the emotional and romantic elements of the movie.
Elements of the creative style to establish pathos in The Notebook that draws audience members in and helps create a connection to the characters. This is done in different ways in every movie. Those producing movies want the audience members to care about the characters and what happens to them. They help to establish this emotional connection from the start with pathos. This investment in the characters is used to create a dynamic and (hopefully) unforgettable experience for the audience members.

Works Cited
“Film Review: The Notebook”. HollywoodJesus. 25 June 2004. Web.
Mecca, Dan. “The 25 Most Memorable Opening Scenes in Film”. TheFilmStage. 3 Sept. 2010. Web.
Sparks, Nicholas. “Inspiration for The Notebook”. Nicholas Sparks: Stories. Willow Holdings, Inc. Web.
The Notebook. Dir. Nick Cassavetes, New Line Cinema. 2004. Film.

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