Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

“A simple severing of the knot”

with 2 comments

I don’t think that it’s altogether fair or correct to say simply that [Chinatown] didn’t turn out the way I’d imagined when writing…In hindsight, I’ve come to feel that Roman was probably right about the ending, that I don’t think that what I had in mind could have been done; that an end with that ambiguity and ambivalence that I had in mind simply could not satisfactorily be done as the tag to a movie with that much complexity; the end had to have a level of stark simplicity that at the time I thought was excessively melodramatic. Roman rightly believed that the complexities had to conclude with a simple severing of the knot.

Robert Towne, quoted in Screenwriters on Screen-Writing

Written by nevalalee

September 8, 2012 at 9:50 am

2 Responses

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  1. It’s interesting how the script gets herald by many as the best ever, considering how much Polanski changed. I believe originally Nicholson and Dunaway ran off together to live happily ever after, very different movie.

    amandalovesmovies

    September 8, 2012 at 10:01 am

  2. That’s true of almost all the canonically great screenplays—Casablanca, The Usual Suspects, and countless more—which only makes the question of movie authorship all the muddier.

    nevalalee

    September 8, 2012 at 3:52 pm


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