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 : http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001188/)
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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