This video (via HE) was fascinating to me as it explores several of Aaron Sorkin‘s scripted television shows and films including “The West Wing“, The Social Network, “Sports Night“, American President, “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip“, A Few Good Men and more and finds plenty of similarities in dialogue and oftentimes the exact same lines used over again.
I have no idea how this would play out if you were to do the same thing for other writers and I’m torn as to what it means. Sorkin clearly has an impact on the audience with his writing, it’s smart, witty and often on point. He does tend to remain in the corporate and/or political realms so his subject matter doesn’t change all that frequently, which is to say you won’t be seeing Jurassic Prk IV with Sorkin attached as screenwriter very soon. Does that mean since Sorkin’s horizons are limited that his ability to come up with new stuff is equally limited? Does it lessen the impact of his lines to know he’s gone to that well before?
I’d imagine if you did this same experiment with other writers you would find similarities and probably even more so on a per-word basis. Just watching “The Newsroom” last week I was struck at how loaded each and every scene was with dialogue. Sorkin’s characters never stop talking and at some point he’d be bound to repeat himself. Take Transformers for example, Lord knows it happened often enough there and that was only one film.
Over at Hollywood Elsewhere, Jeff Wells headlined his post with “What Writer Doesn’t Recycle?” I would almost argue Sorkin doesn’t recycle as much as these phrases are merely a part of him. On top of that, a lot of these are merely memorable turns of phrase and around the 3:30 mark I think it really starts to stretch the comparison not to mention phrases such as “Not for nothin’,” “50/50 chance” and “Dammit!” are not exactly unique to Sorkin and this video is loaded with similar everyday phrases.
Overall, it’s an interesting video, but also a little trivial.