How to make the most successful movie of all time

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aking movies requires tenacity, powers of persuasion and enormous amounts of stamina. Inevitably, the movie you planned is not going to be the movie you make, because film making is also a democratic process – the cinematographer, the sound engineer, the producers, the financiers – they’re all going to want to have their say on your masterpiece. The only way you can prevent that is if you use the method outlined in this article to create a perfect screenplay; one that nobody, not even your producer’s mum, can argue with. Once you’re working from the same page cinematically, you’re good to go.

The best films aren’t always the most popular films, and the best film makers aren’t always the most popular film makers – if that were the case, then we’d all have pictures of Michael Haneke on our walls (instead of just me). So, with this in mind, I have used my powers of logic to combine the top ten most popular films of all time – according to IMDB – to create a story so powerfully moving that Kate Winslet herself will weep in its presence. The story that follows is the fruits of hours of labour, and I will provide annotations within the text to tell you which movie I’m ripping off-ahem, I mean, getting inspiration from. If you’re reading this Weinstein (I assume you are) and your version of this movie is a success, I will expect a “Story by” credit. If it fails, I advise you to sue IMDB for their shoddy list.

The movie is set in a prison in 1947 (Shawshank Redemption). Two prisoners; one a grizzled veteran, the other an idealistic first-timer, find themselves faced with an interesting prospect during a prison visit from an Italian-American mob boss (The Godfather), whose daughter is getting married that day. He wants to ensure his son’s safe passage through to becoming a made man and, one day, head of the family, and tells them the story of his own life in the process (The Godfather II). They escape from prison, rob a diner, and come across a mysterious suitcase, filled with lightbulbs that somehow work (Pulp Fiction). They dance for a bit, before their first confrontation with their antagonist – a nameless man, dressed in a poncho, who not only wants to stop them but also wants to kill the mob boss’s son and take their mysterious light-up suitcase. All three of them get involved in a shoot-out, which ends in a confrontation in a graveyard in the desert (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly).

They flee the scene when the nameless man is killed, and in the process the prisoners go their separate ways – the idealistic first timer is picked up by police and arrested for the nameless man’s murder, while the grizzled veteran (accompanied by the lightbulb suitcase) uses his wily tactics to escape and start a new life.

A few months pass by and the grizzled veteran, now living on the straight and narrow, receives a letter inviting him to jury service. He finds himself on the jury for the murder of the nameless man that he himself was party to, that the idealistic first time has been accused of. The jury take against the idealistic first timer’s past as a banker, and decide early on that he is guilty, but the grizzle veteran decides to veto the vote (12 Angry Men). When it becomes clear that he isn’t going to budge, the rest of the jury lets him give his side of the story. His speech proves such a rousing success that the jury votes in favour of innocence, and the idealistic first timer is set free. His experience inside has proven to be the making of the idealistic first timer, and he becomes a masked vigilante (The Dark Knight), who sets about fighting real criminals and defending the innocent, using the grizzled veteran for moral and technical support, latest weapons and techniques etc.

When he hears about the problems that the Jews are facing in post WWII Germany, he moves there and begins defending Jews against anti-semites (Schindler’s List), moving them out of the country as the populace believe they are to blame for the dire post-war economic situation that Germany finds itself in. One of the Jews that he saves, an elderly and very short man, tells him of a ring that could be used to save all of the vulnerable people in the world (Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King). Interested at this prospect, he takes the elderly Jewish man’s advice and finds the keeper of this ring. At first, he is reticent to hand it over but, after some persuasion, the idealistic first timer is able to get hold of it (by murdering him).

To the idealistic first timer’s surprise, the grizzled veteran is in his apartment when he arrives home, with the lightbulb suitcase. All along, the grizzled veteran and the idealistic first timer were actually two manifestations of the same personality – a twist that doesn’t really make sense but is still pretty cool anyway (Fight Club) – and they/he and their/his lightbulb suitcase live happily ever after.

Proof, if proof were needed, that all one needs to write the most successful movie of all time is logic, and access to the internet. Take that, over a hundred years of cinematic excellence!


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