Director’s Cut: “The Road Not Taken”: A Film Proposal

Image Credit: Nurina Iman Nizam

The reimagination of Robert Frost’s poem as a short film.

Choices are made every second of every day, but have you ever considered the chain of events that may have occurred if you had chosen to follow the other path? One of Robert Frost’s most popular poems, “The Road Not Taken”, is a classic example of unmade choices.

This poem would work well as a short film with a narrative not dissimilar to Gwyneth Paltrow’s story in Sliding Doors (1998). Directed by the film’s writer and director, Peter Howitt, the narrative of the short film, Roads Not Taken, could be a very intimate one. The opening scene would begin with a man in his thirties walking alone in a forest blanketed by snow at the height of winter, an allusion to another one of Frost’s poems, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, instead of the poem’s stated setting of a “yellow wood”. 

The man is at odds with himself. In a brief flashback, he sees his wife being intimate with another man and, instead of confronting them, he runs out the door. He walks, thinking in a series of flashbacks about everything he and his wife have been through together over the past 20 years until he comes upon the “two roads diverged” in a snowy wood. He stops and looks down the path to his left, viewing all of the good memories they have had together and reminding himself of the all-consuming love he has for her, despite what he just witnessed moments before. But when he turns to view his life, should he walk down the path on the right, he sees himself happier, surrounded by the children they never had and falling asleep next to a woman who he loved somehow, though it was not his wife as he had wished it would be. 

In the end, he turns around to go home and confront his wife, choosing not to take either path in that moment. The road less travelled turns out to be the road to the past which he must force himself to face before he can move on. For instead of making a rash decision out of anger, something he knew he would regret, he takes the road to peace and understanding before taking that next step.