Thursday, December 2, 2010

Poetry in Movies: Take Two

I recently posted questioning the existence of poetry in movies. Can movies be considered poetic? In my first post, I discussed the film Inception, which has been stuck in my head since I saw it a few weeks ago. Last week, I believe I confirmed the poetic possibilities when I revisited one of my all-time favorites, The Royal Tenenbaums. It, too, has lodged itself in my brain--just like a good poem does.

It's certainly a different kind of movie, to say the least. Not everyone will find the dysfunctional Tenenbaum family to be as entertaining and endearing as I do. The trailer doesn't completely do the movie justice, but it certainly has a "love it or hate it" quality. You'll know right away if you're like me and this is a movie you'd adore or if you're not and this is one you'd rather skip:

But trust me, there is poetry woven throughout. If you watch this clip or this markedly sadder one, you can certainly find it. At least I think so.

Like so many great poems, this film is alternately touching and hilarious. It's certainly quirky and could be perceived as "weird," like so many poems (and movies, and songs...) that I love. It's not for everyone, certainly. But it's nothing if it isn't poetic.

Above all else, though, is the fact that every single part of its design is so intentional, from the colors used in the set design or the reappearing taxi cabs of the "Gypsy Cab Company." And as my students tire of hearing me say, even though it's absolutely true, there are no accidents in poems. Everything on the page is there for a reason. Every word is carefully chosen with deliberate intent. The same is true of The Royal Tenenbaums. And, thus, it feels like a poem to me.

What's the most poetic film you've seen? Let me know, please and be sure to check out the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect!


  1. Amelie is pretty poetic and if you're looking for a literal interpretation I'd nominate Bright Star

  2. I love The Royal Tenenbaums. I can't imagine Fantastic Mr. Fox without it (and I really love that movie too.)

    Movies are poetic, so I WILL spend much of the next few days things about hem in just hat way. Thank you for this.

  3. Interesting! I never thought of movies this way. Maybe this is a sign that I need to put all my school work aside this afternoon and watch a movie! (please? pretty please???)

  4. Mary Lee, I vote yes on watching a's practically Christmas break time anyway! :)

    Blythe, thanks for your comment. I'm glad you liked the post!

    Carlie, I haven't seen either of those films. But I'll put them on my "must-see" lists. Thank you!

  5. One film that is a must-see for me each year -- and which I think is also infused with poetry -- is Home for the Holidays, directed by Jodie Foster and with a fabulous cast (screenplay by W.D. Richter, based on a short story by Chris Radant).