Heartland Interviews: RALPH WINTER

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A highly successful film Producer, Ralph Winter has had two decades of experience in the industry. During that time, he has produced such familiar titles as Hocus PocusHackersPlanet of the ApesX-Men, and X2, as well as the recent blockbuster, Fantastic Four. He is no stranger to Heartland, either, having produced the Truly Moving Picture Award-winning film Blizzard in 2003. Here he shares with Heartland his own thoughts on what makes a Truly Moving Picture, and those films that he finds personally inspirational.

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The movies that have inspired me tend to be some of the big commercial movies since those are the kind of movies I make professionally. I tend to be more sympathetic to seeing the inspiring moments in those pictures.

Gladiator (2000) is very compelling for me. A story of an everyman hero thrust into extraordinary circumstances, he stays true to his values and beliefs no matter what. Even the music in this movie is inspiring by itself! I am particularly drawn to hero stories where he or she knows when to fight and when to hold back.

Although this film is rated R with the subject material, there is a tenderness and power in the search for love underneath the plot line. At the surface the movie seems to be about how to “win the crowd and win your freedom”, yet deeper reflection shows how each character is searching for love: Maximus, in his love for his family and for honor, and Commodus, in his twisted search for love that murders his father and destroys everything around him.

Ultimately Maximus gives up his life in a battle to free his friends and ultimately Rome from the injustice and tyranny of the old way of life. The movie makes me want to go out and strive to be a better person.

ET (1982) is another compelling and inspiring movie. I find it hard to watch any portion of this movie without wanting to sit through it all again. This movie represents the best of what big commercial movies can do – transport us to a different time and place, where we see life through the eyes of a child. Spielberg is of course so good at this, and he draws us into the story very quickly. The building of a friendship, the loss, and the saying goodbye are all wonderfully moving scenes that will affect you no matter what age you are.

I think ET also represents for me a high standard in storytelling as a producer, since this movie, like so many great animated movies, speaks to both children and adults, each at different levels. Crafting stories that can be enjoyed as families together are indeed a rare and valuable skill we must encourage in our younger filmmakers.

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