Bambi Vs. Godzilla
On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business
By David Mamet
(Pantheon Books, Hardcover, 9780375422539, 250pp.)
Publication Date: February 6, 2007
List Price: $22.00*
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In Bambi vs. Godzilla, David Mamet, the award-winning playwright and screenwriter, gives us an exhilaratingly subversive inside look at Hollywood from the perspective of a filmmaker who has always played the game his own way.
Who really reads the scripts at the film studios? How is a screenplay like a personals ad? Whose opinion matters when revising a screenplay? Why are there so many producers listed in movie credits? And what the hell do those producers do, anyway? Refreshingly unafraid to offend, Mamet provides hilarious, surprising, and bracingly forthright answers to these and other questions about virtually every aspect of filmmaking, from concept to script to screen.
He covers topics ranging from “How Scripts Got So Bad” to the oxymoron of “Manners in Hollywood.” He takes us step-by-step through some of his favorite movie stunts and directorial tricks, and demonstrates that it is craft and crew, not stars and producers, that make great films. He tells us who his favorite actors and what his favorite movies are, who he thinks is the most perfect actor to grace the screen, and who he thinks should never have appeared there.
Demigods and sacred cows of the movie business–beware! But for the rest of us, Mamet speaking truth to Hollywood makes for searingly enjoyable reading.
“Bambi vs. Godzilla is far and away the best commentary on how movies are made thus far written by an American . . . Citing everyone from Aristotle to Preston Sturges’s The Lady Eve, Mamet demonstrates what works and what doesn’t in a movie narrative, while noting what does not work, as we have been witnessing for the last decade or so: statistically, in 1958, Hollywood turned out 2,000 films which listed in their credits 230 producers, while in 2003 Hollywood produced 240 films with 1,200 producers listed.
“Happily, Mamet keeps on in theater and film pretty much on his own terms, and now, with Bambi vs. Godzilla, like his great predecessor George Bernard Shaw, he can illuminate as a critic-practitioner the not-always-friendly Darwinian world he has been obliged to flourish in.”
“No other director has written about the movies with such a fearless mixture of amusement, anger, frustration, and rueful love.”
“What fun to dive into this book of Mamet musings and words of wisdom! But be warned: Like munching popcorn (or Raisinets) at the movies, once you get started it’s hard to stop.”
“David Mamet is supremely talented. He is a gifted writer and observer of society and its characters. I’m sure he will be able to find work somewhere, somehow, just no longer in the movie business.”