March 1, 2011

social network

When Social Network won Best Adapted Screenplay in the Oscars, I thought I should make a point about how execution and technique should weigh the same as concept and theme.

If I may digress, in our industry (advertising), people oftentimes put more premium on concept than execution. I don't understand that. 

Take this movie. It was brilliantly directed, acted out, edited, scored, and written to merit so many Oscar nominations and a statue eventually for the screenplay (aside from editing and musical scoring). But if you read the book it is based from, "The Accidental Billionaires", you wouldn't think that it would spawn such a great by-product.

The book jacket reeks of sensationalism.
Quite unexpected from an author with a Harvard pedigree.
The book, in my opinion, was written like a tabloid article: sensationalized, exaggerated, and speculative (appropriate for yes, tabloids but totally unacceptable for expensive hardbounds). The screenplay, although based on the same story, did not follow the book to the letter. It had its own structure, its own storytelling style which I think at best, is involving and engaging. 

Both did not paint a very good picture of Mark Zuckerberg. But I thought the book sounded controversial and vindictive even, while the movie showed more compassion for Zuckerberg as it showed him in various states of isolation, tenderness, anxiety, geekiness (that is almost not of this world), superiority, awkwardness, and innocence all bundled into this one person, whose life revolved around codes, keyboards, and computer screens.

I am always curious about books being turned into movies. This is one prime example of how one story can be written oh so differently. I'm glad to have been exposed to both as it makes me appreciate more the difference between bad, trashy writing and impeccable craftsmanship.

And aside from the Oscars, one other measure of the movie's success is the reaction of the FB founder himself. He scoffed at the book but he took the whole staff of Facebook to see Social Network. Then they went out afterwards to drink appletinis. He must have liked it.

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