Four life lessons to learn from “The Words.”

By Mumbua Nzula Nzyoka

Most people watch movies for pure entertainment, but in case, you did not know, movies can also teach you a few life lessons. Well, not all movies, but a few of them. “The Words” is one such movie. It is so ambiguous that it is a parable that leaves it up to the viewer to untangle the web it’s woven. The movie, released in 2012 is about a writer (Bradley Cooper) who finds an old manuscript in a new bag his wife has just bought him and decides to pass off the work as his own. Although the movie did not receive favourable reviews, it is a complex movie that is worth the watch. To be honest, it puzzles me why it got such bad reviews. It is one of those movies that linger on long after the credits.

  1. Writing is HARD

I know what you are thinking, “countless people have blogs.” Yes, but there is a difference between good writing and great writing. My English teacher used to say, “A good writer will show you it’s raining but a great writer will make you feel the rain.” Writing has a lot to do with making your reader feel something. For that to happen, you need to put your heart into it as a writer. It might sound like something easy to do but it is not. It took the tragic loss of a baby for the writer of the manuscript to come up with this amazing story.  As the movie shows, the main character did not achieve success for his writing until he gave his publishers a book that seemed personal. It wasn’t his work, but you see what I mean.

  1. Overnight success is a myth

We fall too easily for the fairy tale that is overnight success. In my opinion, this is perpetuated by the round the clock focus on famous people. We want to be them and live like them. However, fame and success are not the same. Success will not just land in your lap while you’re watching a movie or reading a book. You will not wake up one morning and find success lying next to you, seemingly waiting to show you your riches. It doesn’t work like that. To be successful, you need to put in the work, there is no shortcut. Although the writer in this movie plagiarised the work, the actual author (Jeremy Irons) put in the work.

  1. You have to live with the choices you make

In a moment of weakness and a desire to become successful, the writer takes the work of another and passes it off as his own. He becomes successful but at the same time, he has to live with the knowledge that he gained popularity for work that is not his. We choose in life, but it is the bad choices that stay with us for life. Just like the movie says, “Some choices stay with us…forever.”

  1. Love does not conquer all

Unfortunately no matter how many films you watch and no matter how many films try to sell you this line, love does NOT, in fact, conquer all. In the movie, both writers experience loss that puts a strain on their marriages. The ‘old man’ loses a child, and ‘Rory’s’ wife has a miscarriage. Although they try to stay together, the marriage falls apart. Then there is the matter of plagiarism that is left unclear by the movie. Some things you can’t come back from even when you’re in love.

Because the movie is mired in ambiguity, there are a lot of lessons that you can get from the movie, in fact, it gives the viewer the opportunity to spin as many theories as you want.

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