Breaking the Block with Movies

Breaking the Block is a series on ways to get out of writer’s block.

With writer’s block, sometimes it’s best to take a break. Watching your favorite movie is good break because it’s passive so you’re not pushing yourself to think and it’s relaxing because it’s something you enjoy. Another way to recharge your creative energy is to ask yourself questions about the movie:

  • Why is this your favorite movie?
  • Who’s your favorite character? What are their motivations? Did they achieve their goal? Why or not?
  • What are your favorite lines? Why?
  • What are your favorite scenes? Why?

I love to break down scenes. I love details. Little things can make a character or movie so much more believable. Look at this scene break down from Ryan Coogler on Black Panther:

And here are some of my favorite scenes from some movies I love to rewatch. Some of them have been broken down by other people and some of them, I’ve thought of myself. Spoilers for the following movies – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Creed, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

On Tumblr, there was a fan that broke down the Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s wand techniques. It was brilliant. Click here for the details. The actors really embody the characters and their wand work is proof. Hermione’s technique is textbook – wand in front, arm and shoulder straight. She takes aim and casts the spell. Harry is close to textbook, but his shoulder is slouched. While Harry and Hermione were muggle born, wizards raised in non-magical families, Ron was raised in a magical family. He’s grown up around wands and probably practiced waving sticks as wands. Ron turns into his spell and strikes. He seems a lot more natural handling his wand than the other two.

Another fan on Tumblr pointed out how Natasha deftly moves Cap and Falcon out of the line of fire once Winter Soldier is on top of the car. Watch closely – you’ll see the bullet holes in the headrests. A cool detail I missed the first time around.

I love this scene from Creed. It’s been emotional build up for Adonis and it peaks here. I love to see actors cry. Probably because they’re connecting with the character in a way that’s authentic. Adonis has been fighting his whole life and now he’s starting his career with the name Creed, his father’s name. He’s dealing with the fact that people are attaching him to his father’s legacy and his father is a man he never knew. He died before he was born. He’s also dealing with the fact that his mentor and father figure has cancer and doesn’t want to fight it. He’s feeling abandoned. He lashes out and Rocky speaks to part of his feelings.

This scene is one of the reasons why Order of the Phoenix is my favorite Harry Potter movie. It’s similar to the Creed example because it’s an emotional scene and we see Harry is struggling in this moment. It also serves as a reminder of what he’s been fighting and how hard he’s been fighting since he first encountered Voldemort.

So next time you watch your favorite movie, think about the details. But only if you’re up to it. If you just need to relax, do that. Relaxing is ultimately more helpful with you getting back to your writing than breaking down scenes. And you getting back to your work is the most important thing.

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