UCSB Magic Lantern Films presented a screening of the romantic drama “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” last Friday at Isla Vista Theater, allowing student questions to be answered by the book’s author, screenwriter and director — Stephen Chbosky — during a Q&A session after the film.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is a coming-of-age story that revolves around an introverted high school freshman who is introduced to common topics of drugs, sexuality and abuse during adolescence. Starring lesser-known actors Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller and “Harry Potter” star Emma Watson, the film received a notable turnout at I.V. Theater, with tickets selling out and the venue filling to capacity.
First-year sociology major Rayeed Hossain said there were roughly 500 students waiting outside the theater to purchase tickets prior to the movie’s start.
“It was definitely worth waiting in line for,” Hossain said. “I was standing out there for a good hour.”
The novel’s key meaning is its message to youth struggling with the same issues as central protagonist Charlie, who continually keeps his head up with persistence and positivity throughout life’s battles, according to Chbosky.
“The happy ending is there — ‘Just keep walking,’” Chbosky said.
Since the inspiration behind central characters came from real-life experiences, Chbosky said he feels particularly intense personal connection to the piece’s storyline and adolescent characters.
“I love these kids so much. I relate to all of them in different ways. They were all inspired by different people in my life,” Chbosky said. “One of the most amazing experiences with filming is where you let go of a character and you share that character with an actor.”
Desirae Lucas, a first-year undeclared major, said the emotional depth of the story was “life-changing” and Chbosky successfully dealt with darker issues like drug use without including more graphic and explicit portrayals of these topics, thus leaving a more positive influence on student viewers.
“I think the movie cut out a lot of graphic scenes for a good reason,” Lucas said. “The author didn’t add smoking or other scenes for reasons so that other kids wouldn’t be influenced to do such things [to mimic the characters].”
According to first-year mechanical engineering major Israel Vasquez, the majority of audience members appeared touched by the film’s content, as he witnessed a number of visibly emotional reactions.
“I went with a group of friends. I was going in blind and apparently after the movie ended I was crying, and I couldn’t stop crying. It touched me on a deep level,” Vasquez said. “When the movie ended and the lights turned on, I heard sobs and crying … it was such a surreal feeling when it happened. It felt like I was a part of everyone’s emotions.”
The development of the book and film’s storyline was organic, Chbosky said, since he wrote the material over long stretches of time in a fairly unorganized and relaxed fashion.
“Writing the novel was great … It wasn’t painful so much as it was cathartic for me to get it all out. It wasn’t effortless by any stretch but it was ready to come out,” Chbosky said. “I wrote the novel all in four months — 16-hour days spread over the course of a few years. So I’d write for a month but I’d get a little crazy because Charlie talks in circles. So I’d have to stop and get some time away and then come back.”
Hossain said seeing the movie and listening to Chbosky speak and answer questions encouraged him to read the novel which the movie was based on.
“The movie most definitely inspired me to read the book,” Hossain said. “I like how [Chbosky] explained the origins of the characters and what they mean to him. It helped me to better understand the characters myself. The Q&A also showed how he promoted an anti-suicide message within the film.”
A second screening following the initial 7 p.m. one took place at 10:15 p.m. More screenings will take place today at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. in the I.V. Theater and tickets cost $4.
A version of this article appeared on page 5 of January 14th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.