Monday, September 24, 2012

One Thousand Words

Saturday night we watched a movie called One Thousand Words. It stars Eddie Murphy and if you haven't heard of it, don't worry. Most people haven't, I think.

Rotten Tomatoes heaped lots of bad reviews upon it. However, I liked it.

It's an enlightenment fantasy. Jack McCall (Murphy) is a fast-talking literary agent. He attempts to grab the book of the latest hot mystic, but he gets pricked by a special tree. The tree then appears at his house. Every time McCall says a word, a leaf falls from the tree. He soon realizes that he must choose his words carefully and that when the last leaf leaves the tree, both will die.

As a writer and a communicator, I enjoyed the story. In the end, the most important words - the ones that saved - were "I love you" and "I forgive you," with the last three being key. Forgiveness is hard to come by these days, and it is good to have a reminder of how important that truly is.

A thousand words is not very many. It's about four typed pages, single spaced. While that may seem like a lot if you're 13 and doing a Social Studies report (do they even still have Social Studies?), in a lifetime - in a day's time, really - it is nothing at all.

Words are sacred. That was the moral of the movie, something which seems to have slipped by many of the reviewers. This is the kind of movie we need more of, something with a strong message that points out right from wrong. Wrong: being a glib talker who cares only about money. Right: being a good father who is involved in his child's life.

Wrong: taking advantage of people. Right: taking care of your elderly mother.

Wrong: pretending to be what you're not. Right: forgiving someone who has wronged you.

Wrong: telling your wife/friend/lover that you love them all the time, but not backing it up with action. Right: saying I love you and meaning it, with thought and deed behind the words.

I loved seeing these good, strong messages on the screen. I loved being reminded that words are sacred, that our day-to-day use of them has power that should not be taken lightly.

"When words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain," said William Shakespeare, the greatest playwright ever. Now there was a guy who knew what he was talking about. It is why stories need editors, why articles have word limits, why some of the best writing is "short" writing.

"Words may show a man's wit, but actions his meaning," said Benjamin Franklin, one of the greatest spokesmen to ever come out of the United States.

In today's word of texting and telephone talking, when everyone is connected to their favorite device, scared to miss a word, are the things you're afraid of missing really worth that time and effort?

Doesn't that give you pause?

If you only had one thousand words, what do you think you'd say?


  1. we were watching that the night of the big storm! we had gotten about a half hour into it and then heard something loud crash into the house, then the power went out....needless to say we never got to finish it since our power was out for days...was kind of interesting though, the parts we saw!

  2. I have no clue what I would say. Even now as I sit here and ponder it, I have no clue.

  3. I would like to see this film if it becomes available on Netflix. My 2 favorite words would be "I'm sorry" and if I had a thousand I would add a lot of loves and forgiveness in the mix and much appreciation and thankfulness for all we enjoy.

  4. Nice post! I haven't heard of this movie, but I think I would like it. I chuckled at your reference to the 13-year-old having to write a thousand words. I remember those papers and counting every word.


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