When it began, cinema depended too much on theatre and did not make the most of all the possibilities it could offer as a new medium: to direct a film was just like shooting a theatre play. The camera’s point of view was that of a spectator in a seat, it could even be said that the reception was more passive since attention did not divert once while still noticing everything that was happening before it.
Little by little, directors discovered that cinema had no reason to copy theatre and that a camera could move even though actors did not. Another great advantage of cinema compared to theatre concerns the settings. Each scene can take place in a different location: in a street, a house, a great hotel, a boat, in a train.
According to McLuhan, it’s around 1930 that film, a fully-fledged medium, completely mastered its force of expression, after what it regressed and went back to its origins, drawing once again inspiration from theatre. Sound is the reason for this regression. Indeed, until then, no one had to deal with dialogues, since all that actors needed were a few directives to set the tone, thus conveying the impression that they talked about love or hatred. The scenario, in its current form, was born thanks to sound films, which have in return been altered by the scenario.
To be continued…
This article is a selection of passages taken from my book, The scriptwriter’s paradoxes: rules and exceptions in the practise of a scenario (Las paradojas del guionista, Alba Editorial, 2007) aimed at people interested in scriptwriting, and narration in general. The book explores the different theories and manuals existing on the subject, while listing forty paradoxes with which a scriptwriter might be faced.
The scriptwriter’s paradoxes
Las 38 paradojas del libro y algunas más
Reglas y excepciones (Las paradojas del guionista)