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November 1994, Week 1


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"Shari L. Rosenblum" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 6 Nov 1994 08:30:02 CST
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Marcus Richey, noticing that the 4th Edition of the Norton Anthology of
American Literature included Mamet's screenplay "House of Games," asked
if anyone has "heard of anyone anywhere using a screenplay as a
literary source in a non-film/theatre studies classroom."
Marguerite Duras's script for Resnais's _Hiroshima Mon Amour_ has been
included in the syllabi of French literature classes for some time; it is
also featured in the Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces, 6th Edition.
This is perhaps different from other screenplays as it was published
separately with an interpretive synopsis and notes on the characters by
Duras.  Nevertheless ...
It seems to me that to deny the literary value of screenplays is to
eliminate a true resource from the literature classroom -- particularly
from survey courses.  The argument that screenplays are not meant to
be read -- besides being an echo of the claim that theater pieces are
not meant to be read -- is specious.  Just like plays, they must be
read -- and read effectively -- by actors and directors and all of the
other people who put a film together.  In fact, screenplays are the most
concrete example in our time of the symbiotic relationship between the
interpreter and the interpretation, between interpretation and
Camera "techno-babble" is no different from theatrical directions, except
that it is less familiar to the professors.  This is not necessarily true
for the students, however, who in this visually-oriented time of music
videos et al. are much more adept at envisioning a camera angle than an
"enters left" indication.
As for separating the text from the production -- they *are* separate.
Just as each theatrical performance is separate from the text of the play.
Is a screenplay invalidated because its production is fixed?  I think not.
Students are forever amazed at how differently a film comes out of a
screenplay from how they (think they) would have done it.
The use of screenplays is also effective when the screenplays are based
on other works -- like novels (e.g., All The President's Men) and
plays (e.g., My Fair Lady).
                                       Shari ([log in to unmask])