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Walter Reisch: The musical writer

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Academy Award-winning Austrian screenwriter Walter Reisch’s (1903‐83) career started in Austrian silent cinema and ended in Hollywood. Reisch wrote the screenplays for silent films, many of them based on musical topics (operetta films, biopics of musicians, etc.). He created the so-called Viennese film, a musical subgenre, set in an almost mythological Vienna. In my article I am analysing the characteristics of his writing in which music plays a crucial part. The article details the use of musical devices in his screenplays (his use of music, the influence of musical melodrama, instructions and use of songs and leitmotifs). The article closes with a reading of the final number in the last film he was able to make in Austria: Silhouetten (1936).

Keywords: Austrian film history; Silhouetten; Walter Reisch; film music; musical numbers; screenwriting and music

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000122861424University of Vienna

Publication date: September 1, 2019

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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