movie obituary

I have placed eight files. Five are collections of obituaries from The Economist magazine, three make up David Thomson’s book Suspects.Taken together, this is a collection of wonderfully well-written and clearly articulated pieces of writing that tell us something about the lives of recently deceased human beings. At the end of the day, it’s all about good storytelling. Look at one of the Economist pieces. Most likely it is the death notice of someone old, who lived several decades, but whose existence on this planet is somehow summed up in approximately a thousand thought-provoking words, as the author focuses in on a book this dead person wrote or the job they did or country they lived in or battles they fought or their allies/antagonists or one particular fortunate/unfortunate incident they were involved with. This isn’t just a life that is opened up and explained, rather an entire world, via that job you have never heard of, a country you know nothing about, an ideology that was previously impenetrable to you. Explains Ann Wroe, who wrote many of the obituaries published in The Economistover the years: “You just have to try and get the essence of who they are, and it has to boil down to what was most important about them.”Inspired by this writing from The Economist, for your mid-term exercise I want you to write an “obituary” (approximately a thousand words –make sure every one of those words count!) of someone who is somehow involved in German cinema. Anyone at all: an actor, writer, producer, costume designer, etc. This is, above all, a creative writing exercise. Are you able to tell a subjectively framed story about this person, their life and work? Can you focus in on one or two things about that life and work you find especially interesting?You have an awful lot of leeway here, but I can tell you definitively that a straightforward and fact-based summary of this person’s life, or analysis of, for example, their films, isn’t going to work. Show me how imaginative you can be. For example, write an obituary of someone who is still alive, but write it as if they were dead. It could even be a fictional characterfrom a German film (see Thomson’s book Suspects for inspiration –and format: it would by useful if I know precisely who you are writing about). And stay away from highly personalized accounts and clauses, for example: “I was seventeen when I first encountered X’s films…” You are, in fact, strictly forbidden from expressing any ideas in the first person.

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