On Dialogue and Imagery

Writing dialogue for a screenplay is, I find, the hardest thing to do. Coming up with visuals is easy because when creating a story-world all you have to do is think it.

…Think black earth covering vast expanses of desert. The flaky dry ground cracked from being parched due to millenia of no rain. Red hot lava flows withing these cracks making it barely navigable. St. Peter decides to pay the devil a visit but what does he say to the devil. Is he funny? is the devil mischievous? I mean in this type of a scenario what makes dialogue seem reel? what could these characters say to one and other that would be plausible?

Bronwen Thomas’ article, in my opinion, does not translate well into cinema. The visual element that dialogue sets up in Deception is pure imagination. I say this because there are very few visual cues given to us to form a mental image of the speakers. Thus we rely on tone to create a picture of Philip and his mistress. So he’s a Jew but we don’t know this at the beginning. Does this mean that when we do find out, some part of his features change? Or just our attitude towards him. Do we then add curly hair on his head and pronounce the shape of his nose differently? It’s a clever, though confusing way of exposition.

Bronwen claims that “the spaces between the utterances and the subtle shifts in the dynamics between the characters tat gradually draw us in, …” Film cannot work this way because what draws the viewer in, unlike the reader, is his connection with the material. As we have learnt from the Rosenblum article about Annie Hall, not until the character Annie was established as the spindle around which the narrative thread can strung did the movie have any form. Until then the movie seemed to be about Allen’s ability to talk and deliver a gag. But if I wanted to see that then we’d go to a stand up show instead of a movie. Dialogue is important but it should never supercede the image.

xoxo Waylon


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