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Alter Egos - I Am Done Watching This

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Dialogue - or Where the hell were you yesterday?

Okay, I’m on a roll. Mamet, you see, does this to me. He tips me over and sets me in motion. Has done for years.

Sock it to us, Dave: “In the bad film the fellow says, “hello Jack, I’m coming over to your home this evening because I need to get the money you borrowed from me.” In the good film, he says, “Where the hell were you yesterday?””

The dialogue does not narrate. Isn’t that something? The dialogue moves the narration along, but in itself it does not narrate. There is something we need to know for the story to continue to unfold. “Where the hell were you yesterday?” Godammit but we want to know.

Mamet goes so far as to say that dialogue should not even be necessary if the shots are good enough, that in film you should strive for a silent movie, that dialogue is the sprinkles on the ice-cream. He’s not far off it.

We need dialogue to hear the character. It is one thing to be told about a person, it is an altogether different thing to meet that person. Dialogue (through scene) allows us meet the person. They become real.

Think of the person who comes up to you and says, “Hi, my name’s Wilbur. I’m an entomologist. Hey, let me tell you everything about myself….” Can’t get away fast enough. The dialogue does not narrate.

“Hi, my name’s Wilbur.” Silence.

Now we want to know, who Wilbur is.

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