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From dialogue writer to screenwriter: Pier Paolo Pasolini at work for Federico Fellini

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Pier Paolo Pasolini was a poet, novelist, essayist and filmmaker who also worked as a screenwriter for some of the most important Italian directors including Mario Soldati, Mauro Bolognini and Bernardo Bertolucci, to name a few. While Pasolini’s poems, novels and films are widely studied, his work as a screenwriter has not attracted much critical attention. This is partly because Pasolini tended to collaborate with directors whose artistic tastes were very different from his own, making it difficult to understand what he could possibly bring to the films on which he worked. The fact that he took his first steps in the screenwriting teams for which Italian cinema was famous has also contributed to downplay his screenwriting activity. One such example is his contribution to Federico Fellini’s screenplays. Fellini first approached Pasolini because he wished to revise the dialogue in Le notti di Cabiria, which he thought lacked the authentic feel of the language spoken in the Roman slums where the film took place. Although critics have always assumed that Fellini discarded Pasolini’s revisions to his scripts, archival sources tell a different story, revealing Pasolini’s key contribution to Fellini’s work and his eagerness to leave a lasting impression on it.

Keywords: Fellini; Italian screenplay; Le notti di Cabiria; Pasolini; dialogue writer; screenwriting teams

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000404748665The University of Alabama

Publication date: September 1, 2019

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  • 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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