Screenwriting

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Screenwriting

 

a literary and cinematographic art; the creation of the screenplay, the literary, ideological, and artistic basis of the film.

The argument advanced in film theory abroad that screenwriting is neither a new and independent part of literature nor the most important element in the creation of a motion picture has at times been used in a very complex ideological and class struggle to affirm reactionary ideas.

The development of screenwriting was connected directly to the development of the possibilities of cinematic representation. At the same time, the screenwriter had available to him the possibilities of literary imagery. This dual nature of screenwriting, literary on the one hand and cinematographic on the other, has brought about two kinds of film scripts: (1) the literary work that forms the basis of a film while retaining independent artistic value and (2) the raw literary material that constitutes the initial conception of the content and structure of a future film.

Screenwriters must focus directly on the depiction of real events through both film technique and literary device, using literary works as a starting point and adapting them to the screen.

The nature, methods, and completeness of material of the film script have varied at different stages in film history and have reflected the individual styles of various screenwriters. Whereas the plots, characters, and structure of the early silent films (before 1920) for the most part borrowed from works of literature, screenwriters toward the end of the 1920’s began to develop their own form, combining to various degrees the qualities and possibilities inherent in both prose and drama. In the 1930’s, the screenplay showed a preference for maximum concentration of action and intensity of dramatic conflict. This method of organizing the material came to be considered a fundamental law of screenwriting.

With the introduction of sound, the spoken word assumed great importance, and dialogue became one of the most important ways of revealing character. The broadening of film’s possibilities allowed the screenwriter to delve more deeply into life, reproducing its great variety and complexity. This led to a change in aesthetic norms. The form of the screenplay became freer, more varied, and more adept at expressing film’s increasingly complicated system of sound and visual imagery. The genres of screenplays, which during film’s early history were relatively clearly defined (adventure, comedy, melodrama), have become less so and often interpenetrate.

Writers who devoted themselves solely to filmscripts, such as V. K. Turkin, K. N. Vinogradskaia, N. A. Zarkhi, B. L. Leonidov, G. E. Grebner, and A. G. Rzheshevskii, were not alone in their contribution to the art of screenwriting. Prose writers, poets, literary critics, and dramatists, such as V. V. Mayakovsky, Iu. N. Tynianov, V. B. Shklovskii, S. M. Tret’iakov, N. F. Pogodin, and V. V. Vishnevskii, took an equal part in its growth. Soviet film directors, such as S. M. Eisenstein, A. P. Dovzhenko, and S. A. Gerasimov, also played an important role, as have D. W. Griffith and C. Chaplin in the USA and F. Fellini and M. Antonioni in Italy.

Some of the best screenplays have had a substantial influence on the development of film art. These include Mother and The End of St. Petersburg by N. A. Zarkhi, Chapaev by G. N. and S. D. Vasil’ev, Lenin in October and Lenin in 1918 by A. la. Kapler, The Communist by E. I. Gabrilovich, Ballad of a Soldier by V. I. Ezhov, Nine Days of a Year by D. la. Khrabrovitskii, Under the Roofs of Paris by R. Clair (France), The Informer by D. Nichols, Citizen Kane by O. Welles (USA), The Bicycle Thief and The Roof by C. Zavattini (Italy), and Wild Strawberries by I. Bergman (Sweden).

REFERENCES

Shklovskii, V. Kak pisat’ stsenarii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1931.
Vol’kenshtein, V. Dramaturgiia kino. Moscow-Leningrad, 1937.
Turkin, V. Dramaturgiia kino. Moscow, 1938.
Lawson, J. Teoriia ipraktika sozdaniia p’esy i kinostsenariia. Moscow, 1960. (Translated from English.)
Vaisfel’d, I. Masterstvo kinodramaturga. Moscow, 1961.
Freilikh, S. Dramaturgiia ekrana. Moscow, 1961.
Balázs, B. Kino: Stanovlenie i sushchnost’ novogo iskusstva. Moscow, 1968. (Translated from German.)
Demin, V. P. Fil’m bez intrigi. Moscow, 1966.
Vaisfel’d, I. V. Novaia oblast’ literatury. Moscow, 1970.
Fomin, V. I. Vse kraski siuzheta. Moscow, 1971.

L. I. BELOVA