Nora Ephron – Pioneer Film Writer and Director

Nora Ephron (1941-2012), Thanks and Goodbye

Nora Ephron (1941-2012), Thanks and Goodbye (Photo credit: k-ideas)

Nora Ephron, pioneer film writer and director has died. She was nominated for three screenwriting Oscars, Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally & Sleepless in Seattle. When a writer dies, the loss is magnified not only by all the work they’ve done  but  all the work that might have been written, and the world has lost.

I have particular respect for screenwriters as they have to work in the dark – no lovely descriptive passages to help the story along, suggestions for the readers imagination. In film of course it’s fleshed out by both the actors and the director. Here’s where my second part of respect comes in – the screenwriter is part of a team – no flying solo, but having to rely on their interpretation of your work. So essentially the outcome is out of your control. Nora often both wrote and directed her movies.

Check out this link for a complete filmography :

When I first saw Silkwood, I was stunned by the revelation of such a heinous crime the company Karen Silkwood, (played by a young Meryl Streep) worked for and tried to cover up. Making plutonium fuel rods for nuclear reactors., they skimped on safety standards and forced employees to work long, unsafe hours. But it was also a story of an ordinary woman and the struggles of her own life  – trying to raise three children and struggle with her ex-common-law husband. Most of her support comes from her lesbian friend Dolly (played by Cher). It was one of the first films where an ordinary woman takes on the establishment.

Nora was not only a writer, but also a director and a producer. Some would argue she created the rom-com genre.

Most men don’t want to direct movies that aren’t about them.

“If you can’t get it done, then do it yourself” – has often been the approach for women in film. Nora Ephron’s work is a legacy to all women who ever doubt themselves and their ability to break into a world previously closed to them.

Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.  – Nora Ephron


Click on the link below for a really interesting interview on  a Seattle Public TV station in 2011. Nora talks about her life, how she became a journalist ( She was told “We don’t have any women writer’s at Newsweek” !) and how she moved on to screenplays.



Here is a film clip of excerpts from her films



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  1. You are right, screen writers are the unknown soldiers. I haven’t seen Silkwood, now I must. Thanks for this tribute to Nora.
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  2. She was a pioneer for women on my levels. In her industry, in writing and as a woman. She was an example for many young women. She will be missed.
    Susan Cooper recently posted..Evenus Zinfandel Port Wine 2007: WineMy Profile

    • I completely agree Susan. It’s very sad that she’s died, but hopefully her obituaries will highlight not only what she accomplished, but also the inequalities that have historically faced women in various professions, and which are by no means an equal playing field today.
      As always thanks for stopping by:-)
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..Nora Ephron – Pioneer Film Writer and DirectorMy Profile

  3. AK I have to admit that when I noticed that she had died this morning I had no idea who she was. Quickly found out and then cam we across the photograph you have included and thought it was a young woman. Immediately understood it had something to do with Hollywood:-)

    Loved Silkwood and of the quotes you print above this appeals to me most: Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.
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  4. I first encountered Ephron’s work in an essay anthology. It wasn’t until later that I realized she was such a talented screenwriter. While not a tried and true fan of hers, it’s sad to see such a creative and influential talent leave this world. That said, I will probably look into reading more of her essays now.
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    • Hi Jeri – thanks so much for the comment – that’s basically exactly how I feel. When I listened to her interviews yesterday, she was not only interesting in talking about her life and the struggles she overcame to get into the male dominated fields of journalism & directing, but she was such a humorous woman. You could tell also, how pragmatic she was and it made complete sense that she could have written the screenplays that she did. Good to see you here.
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..Nora Ephron – Pioneer Film Writer and DirectorMy Profile

  5. A.K., I didn’t know who Nora Ephron was until I read your post, and then I realized, all these years I’ve watched and enjoyed her movies. I believe I have seen (and immensely enjoyed) all of them. This really makes me think more about the writers behind the movies I love. The work they must put into them, as you say, writing without all that background, and then trusting that the directors and such will translate it all accurately onto film. It’s an act of faith, really.
    I loved the quote you put up here by her: Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim. This is such a good quote, especially for women. I see so many women who take on “the victim” role, whether they have been directly victimized or not. We, and now I’m talking men and women alike, really do need to be our own heroes.
    Thanks for this tribute to a woman who was obviously very gifted and strong herself. Definitely, not a victim. 🙂
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    • Thanks Bethany – I really enjoyed your comment. It’s a real testament to say how much you enjoyed someone’s films without having the bias of knowing whose work it is. And the quote really is truly inspiring, as you say not only for women, but men also. Sometimes life feels out of our control , but perhaps if we keep that phrase in mind, it will help us to get back on track in the best way we can.
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..Nora Ephron – Pioneer Film Writer and DirectorMy Profile

  6. Nora Ephron was one of the funniest women alive. Yet she was also one of the most serious women alive. Now she has gone, but she was a trailblazer and her legacy will be the work she had such passion for.
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    • Hi Jeannette – saying she was one of the funniest and yet serious women is so true. No doubt having determination with a real positive attitude helped her achieve as much as she did. She really was a trailblazer and I’m pleased that her work is in the spotlight, getting the recognition it deserves, albeit in v. sad circumstances. Thanks so much for your comment.
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..Nora Ephron – Pioneer Film Writer and DirectorMy Profile

  7. Her work will stand the test of time and continue to inspire. My her light continue to shine brightly!
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  8. I admit I hadn’t realized she was sick, or even that she was as old as she was. I’ve loved her work. She will be missed.
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  9. Oh, I remember Silkwood. I used to want to see every movie with Meryl Streep. “Most men don’t want to direct movies that aren’t about them” – in defense of men, I kind like to see movies that I can relate to as well! So it was a good thing that Nora Ephron produced as much as she did – she left behind a legacy.
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    • Hi Leora -good to see you here again. Yes Silkwood was very memorable for me too. As to the men quote – I think Nora was just trying to address the imbalance , rather than being anti-men in any way. Diversity is the key. There’s so many great male directors out there, but it’s good to see women making films too. It’s really changed a lot in TV too now. So we’re on our way. Thanks so much for your comment.:-)
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..Nora Ephron – Pioneer Film Writer and DirectorMy Profile