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The screenplay/film relationship bifurcated: Reading Carl Mayer’s Sylvester (1924)

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The article explores the question of whether screenplays can be defined and interpreted based solely on their functional relation to film. It argues that another aspect of the screenplay/film relationship is crucial for a more precise definition and reading of scripts, namely the textual simulation of film as a medium. This argument is first made on a theoretical basis and supported by an analogy with the relationship between drama and theatre. The second half of the article illustrates and expands the theoretical claims in a close reading of the silent film script Sylvester written by German screenwriter Carl Mayer and published in 1924. In particular, it is argued, Mayer’s acclaimed ‘expressionist’ writing style does not aim at performing any function in the potential film production, but rather reflects a certain view on the media-related specifics of film and the possibilities of their verbal representation.
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Keywords: Carl Mayer; German screenplay; Sylvester; rhythm; screenplay/film relationship; silent screenwriting

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies

Publication date: March 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Screenwriting aims to explore the nature of writing for the moving image in the broadest sense, highlighting current academic thinking around scriptwriting whilst also reflecting on this with a truly international perspective and outlook. The journal will encourage the investigation of a broad range of possible methodologies and approaches to studying the scriptwriting form, in particular: the history of the form, contextual analysis, the process of writing for the moving image, the relationship of scriptwriting to the production process and how the form can be considered in terms of culture and society. The journal also aims to encourage research in the field of screenwriting, the linking of scriptwriting practice to academic theory, and to support and promote conferences and networking events on this subject.
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