Into it: Ronald Harwood

The Academy Award winner and screenwriter of 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' on reading the letters of the Mitford family, his favorite new movie, and why he doesn't listen to anything post-Stravinsky.

Charley Gallay/getty images
Ronald harwood, Academy Award winner and screenwriter of 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly''

... Reading?

The Mitford Letters, which are the letters of the five sisters of the Mitford family. They were all wonderful letter writers. They provide a fascinating picture of prewar British society, a subject that greatly interests me. I have a play coming up on the topic. Unity, one of the sisters, had a passionate love of Hitler. I'm so interested in why people abandoned their moral center. That process, the way people make moral decisions, fascinates me.

... Watching?

I'm catching up on the Oscar nominated movies and I have to vote, so I don't want to say what my favorites are. But in the movies I've watched over the past year, I'd say one that really moved me was The Lives of Others, because it's such a brilliant portrait of an utterly corrupt society, one where people pretended it was one thing and it was really another. It was supposed to be this worker paradise but it was totally corrupt.

... Listening to?

I would say my musical taste stops at Stravinsky. I like classical music because it's about something, it has something to say. It moves me, it's not just noise, which is what passes for music with so much of what you hear today. I look for in music the same things I look for in art, which is to be touched and moved. Solzhenitsyn, the great Russian writer, put it well when he said if it doesn't touch me here, meaning his heart, then it isn't art.

Playwright Ronald Harwood previously won an Academy Award for the script of 'The Pianist.' He is nominated this year for his work on 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.'

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