Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Diaries, on DVD
This is one of those films that drags a bit when you’re actually watching it, (eg. everything at the beach party) but is lovely to have seen afterwards.

Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) is an unpopular teenage girl who discovers that she’s actually a princess. Well, the rest of the plot goes without saying. Really – you could come into this film at any moment and make a pretty good stab at how many minutes had already elapsed.

That said, it’s not a story about her transformation into a princess, but about her simply building up some confidence and learning to claim the things that she wants in life. There are some things about her royal inheritance that she loves. There are other things she detests. And a heap of people of varying stature to please along the way. There’s no clear formula for her to make these decisions by, and her final choice – to be the princess or not – unfairly robs her of maintaining the balance that she would clearly feel happier with.

Unfortunately she's also a girl who plays around with different boys' feelings, which inevitably subtracts from the character's likability.

The best thing about this DVD though is the deleted scenes. With most films these are the only extras that I’ll touch, and in this instance I’m so glad I did.

Sometimes deleted scenes are edited back into the film where they come. More often they’re included in isolation, and you just watch them thinking “Yeah, I can see why they cut that.”

On this film though they have director Garry Marshall introducing them, and giving straight, honest, non-patronising reasons for why he had to ditch these bits.

And he’s HILARIOUS. The guy’s passion for his work is infectious, and he has no shame at all about improvising his notes without a script. (that or he’s a fine actor...) He even encourages the viewer to write to Disney and complain if they agree with him that the banana scene should really have been left in.

The one I found most interesting though was the scene when Mia almost has a pizza with one of the guys from school who she really likes.

Jewish comic
“Now guess why we cut that scene? I’ll tell ya why – it’s because they look very close in that scene and it looked like they really like each other and that meant Mia really liked this boy. And then it looked bad when she suddenly dumped this boy to see this other boy – Erik von Detten. So, the thing when you’re making a story is you must always protect your characters so that they are lovely and likeable, particularly the hero.”

Hmm, good call then, although as I mentioned above, only about 50% successful in the final cut. Fascinating, though, to witness how a scene that pushed the main character's niceness so well, would have had the exact opposite effect in context.

Anyway, if all that doesn’t tell you that this was made by someone who knows how to tell a story well, then the villain’s second line (to the villainess) will:

“Some day we will own Genovia again, and you will be queen, and your face will be on a postage stamp.”

(sequel here)

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