The Words

I went to watch "The Words" last week, and it is one of the best shows I have seen in recent years. This show reminds me of "Atonement", as the theme is similar. Both shows focus on a writer, who use words to tell the truth, and atone for what they have done.

"The Words" is actually a story within a story. The opening scene is on a writer talking about his new book. In his new book, he told of a young struggling writer who wanted to get something published. Unfortunately, a few years and two manuscripts later, his works were still rejected for publication, even though the publishers all said he wrote well and the story was good, but just not marketable.

One day, he came across a briefcase with a manuscript written by someone. He was so haunted by the story of a young soldier in the second world war dedicating the story to his wife and recently-deceased baby daughter, that he wanted the words to flow out of himself. So he went to retype the manuscript on his own typewriter. When his wife came across that story on his typewriter, she was so moved that she urged him to get the manuscript published. Unwilling to disappoint his wife and knowing this would be his big break, he did not reveal that he was not the original writer.

His book became a sensation and overnight best-seller. Due to the popularity of this new book, his previous manuscripts were also published. That book allowed him to win the New Letters Of The Year award. The next day after receiving an award, he came across an old man who was revealed to be the original writer of the story.

The writer was so crest-fallen and guilty that he confessed of his plagiarism to his wife. He then went on to confess to his publisher, who told him things like that do happen and he just had to ride on his new-found success, as if not because of this book, he would never be a published writer. Hence, he had to live with his guilt, especially after finding out the other manuscripts he wrote were not of the same standard as the first that was published.

So the new writer went to find the old man and wanted to give him his proceeds of the royalties. The old man refused and said it was enough to see his words in print, and that he did not tell him the truth to gain anything, but just to let him know the background of the story. Shortly after, the old man passed away, and the new writer did not have the chance to atone for what he did.

Back to the opening scene. It is now revealed that the writer talking about the book is none other that the young writer himself, but now middle-aged and with several best-sellers to his name. He decided to write this book to tell the truth and to atone for what he did. Of course, people thought it was all fiction. It was implied that he and his wife never did recover from the deception and their marriage fell apart, and even though he became rich and successful, he never got over the guilt of publishing someone else's work in the first place.

Just like "Atonement". The writer in the show never got over her guilt of what she did to her sister and the man she loved. Unfortunately, she never did manage to make amends, as both died during the second world war and never had the chance to get back together. She became a famous writer, and in the end she published her final book entitled "Atonement", hoping to alleviate her guilt towards what she did.

Both shows are good in their own ways. "The Words" may sound complicated, but it is actually a very simple movie and quick to understand. And that is why it makes the show so good because it is such a simple, albeit fantastic storyline. Nothing complicated, no extra characters. Just a simple plot and great acting. And that is why it is one of the best shows I have watched in recent years.


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