Film Dialogue

Film Dialogue

EDITED BY JEFF JAECKLE
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/jaec16562
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  • Book Info
    Film Dialogue
    Book Description:

    Film Dialogue is the first anthology in film studies devoted to the topic of language in cinema, bringing together leading and emerging scholars to discuss the aesthetic, narrative, and ideological dimensions of film speech that have largely gone unappreciated and unheard. Consisting of thirteen essays divided into three sections: genre, auteur theory, and cultural representation, Film Dialogue revisits and reconfigures several of the most established topics in film studies in an effort to persuade readers that "spectators" are more accurately described as "audiences," that the gaze has its equal in eavesdropping, and that images are best understood and appreciated through their interactions with words. Including an introduction that outlines a methodology of film dialogue study and adopting an accessible prose style throughout, Film Dialogue is a welcome addition to ongoing debates about the place, value, and purpose of language in cinema.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-85042-1
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. notes on contributors
    (pp. ix-xi)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xii-xvi)
    SARAH KOZLOFF
  5. INTRODUCTION: A BRIEF PRIMER FOR FILM DIALOGUE STUDY
    (pp. 1-16)
    JEFF JAECKLE

    Consider your favourite line of film dialogue. You know the words by heart, of course, but you can also recall their tenor, rhythm and placement in the narrative. You might remember as well how the filmmakers established the mood, anchored the character, advanced the plot, or echoed other films in the genre. Lingering over this line might also call to mind the historical era, including the film’s compliance with or reaction against prevailing cultural trends or political movements. So much in fact might be packed into the wording, delivery and context of this single line that its close analysis would...

  6. DIALOGUE AND GENRE
    • 01 THE LEADEN ECHO AND THE GOLDEN ECHO: DIALOGUE IN SCIENCE FICTION FILMS
      (pp. 19-39)
      VIVIAN SOBCHACK

      I remember once hearing an apocryphal story about a man, unfamiliar with English, who thought that the most beautiful, musical, romantic and mysterious word in the entire language was ‘cellador’. He had slurred together two extremely ordinary and less than beautiful words – ‘cellar’ and ‘door‘ – to come up with something which sounded rather like the name of a magical Arthurian isle or the heroine of an Edgar Allan Poe poem. I have always hoped that the gentleman in the story never did learn sufficient English to suffer the literal disenchantment which comprehension would have caused.

      In science fiction...

    • 02 DOCUMENTING DIALOGUE: RESHAPING 'REALITY' IN EMILE DE ANTONIO'S POINT OF ORDER
      (pp. 40-55)
      DEBORAH A. CARMICHAEL

      Borrowing from the literary world, documentary film should, perhaps, be renamed ‘creative nonfiction’, dispelling the myth that this cinematic form, box-office stepsister to the feature film, is somehow more true to life or historically accurate than a Hollywood creation. The adage that seeing (and hearing) is believing remains a cultural certitude that is hard to discredit, even with the daily onslaught of Photoshop images. Just as the suspension of disbelief required by fiction films is readily accepted, skepticism or mistrust of the documentary film is often deactivated. The popular definition of documentary film remains ‘a film or TV program presenting...

    • 03 PRONOUN TROUBLES AND FACTUAL CONVERSATIONS: DIALOGUE IN ANIMATED FILMS
      (pp. 56-69)
      PAUL WELLS

      It is clear that with so many different kinds of animation there is no one dominant approach to its creation. On the one hand, animated features and TV shows can directly echo the script development and construction of traditional live-action projects, while on the other, animated works can emerge from a whole plethora of original technical and aesthetic devising strategies (see Furniss 2008; Hardstaff and Wells 2008). Even here, though, for example, in the most orthodox aspects of TV script development, there are significant differences. As Jeffrey Scott points out, ‘a script describes the entire story, including a description of...

    • 04 TALKING TEAMS: DIALOGUE AND THE TEAM FILM FORMULA
      (pp. 70-84)
      JEREMY STRONG

      This essay outlines the key features of a narrative formula that I have termed elsewhere the ‘team film’ (see Strong 2006, 2008). In particular it addresses aspects of dialogue that enact the motifs of the team film; though the formula is constituted not only in what is said but in visual, structural and other dimensions of the texts under consideration.

      A necessary point of departure for this discussion is to acknowledge that whilst team films may be understood as a grouping defined by a set of shared characteristics they may, in addition, be approached in terms of difference; that is,...

    • 05 YOU TALK LIKE A CHARACTER IN A BOOK: DIALOGUE AND FILM ADAPTATION
      (pp. 85-100)
      THOMAS LEITCH

      Every filmgoer can recall moments in which the people on-screen have stopped talking like real people and talked instead like characters in a book. Sometimes these moments pass quickly, as moments do, marking the sudden eruption of literary language as a lapse in decorum. Sometimes literary language is extended through an entire scene or identified with every utterance of a specific character, as a way of marking that scene or character off from the movie’s norms. Occasionally excursions into literary language extend for the length of an entire film, establishing new rhetorical norms that recast the world of the film....

  7. DIALOGUE AUTEURS
    • 06 KILLING THE WRITER: MOVIE DIALOGUE CONVENTIONS AND JOHN CASSAVETES
      (pp. 103-115)
      TODD BERLINER

      You’re at a party. A man you don’t recognise addresses you by name. You might say, ‘I’ve forgotten your name’, ‘Have we met?’, or ‘How do you know my name?’ But more than likely you would not say, ‘You have me at a disadvantage’. And no man, I presume, has ever said to his wife, ‘Darling, what’s gotten into you? You’re not yourself.’ And if a husband ever did say something so awkward, I doubt his wife would reply, ‘Yes I am, for the first time in my life’. In a real conversation, these lines would sound bizarre, but we...

    • 07 THE FILM DIALOGUE OF HOWARD HAWKS
      (pp. 116-125)
      BRIAN WILSON

      Since the publication of Jacques Rivette’s ‘The Genius of Howard Hawks’ in 1953, the director’s films have received a vast amount of attention from critics and scholars. Aside from auteurist approaches from the Cahiers du cinéma critics, Robin Wood, and others, Hawks’ films have also been the subject of analyses utilising structuralist and psychological perspectives. Other writers have developed additional strategies. Gerald Mast’s Howard Hawks, Storyteller (1982) has emphasised the important role of narrative within the director’s films, while Todd McCarthy’s Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood (1997) has examined Hawks’ work within the context of the artist’s life....

    • 08 ORSON WELLES' TRADEMARK: OVERLAPPING FILM DIALOGUE
      (pp. 126-139)
      FRANÇOIS THOMAS

      Overlapping dialogue is one of Orson Welles’ main trademarks. Cinema favours the consistent alternation of spoken lines, which guarantees intelligibility and does not encumber the editing process with live recordings of simultaneous lines that cannot be disconnected from one another in post-production. Welles, however, is the filmmaker of the classical period who most challenged this convention. Citizen Kane (1941), where overlapping dialogue is used for 33 per cent of the lines, is famous for this practice, but Touch of Evil (1958) and The Trial (1962) make even greater use of the technique (40 per cent and 38 per cent respectively)....

    • 09 ON MISSPEAKING IN THE FILMS OF PRESTON STURGES
      (pp. 140-154)
      JEFF JAECKLE

      Let’s begin by lingering for a moment over the following lines of dialogue:

      ‘meet me in yonder window embrasure’

      ‘cock-eyed cookie puss’

      ‘the night will be heavy with perfume’

      ‘let us be crooked but never common’

      ‘that’s the same dame’¹

      These lines evince a spectrum of verbal registers, from erudite to vernacular, poetry to slang. Their use of archaic diction, alliteration and internal rhyme attest to their verbal complexities, yet they also rely on basic conversational language. Despite this striking range of linguistic constructions, these lines blend together seamlessly to create one portion of the aural experience known as The...

  8. DIALOGUE AND CULTURAL REPRESENTATION
    • 10 'THEY WILL SPEAK IN OUR LANGUAGE': INDIAN SPEECH IN WESTERN MOVIES
      (pp. 157-171)
      EDWARD BUSCOMBE

      At the opening of Broken Arrow (1950) James Stewart, playing the scout Tom Jeffords, speaks to the audience in voice-over: ‘This is the story of a land, of the people who lived on it in the year 1870, and of a man whose name was Cochise. He was an Indian, leader of the Chiricahua Apache tribe. I was involved in the story, and what I have to tell happened exactly as you’ll see it. The only change will be that when the Apache speak, they will speak in our language.’¹

      On the surface, this is rather a surprising admission. Hollywood...

    • 11 FROM 'ME SO HORNY' TO 'I'M SO RONERY': ASIAN IMAGES AND YELLOW VOICES IN AMERICAN CINEMA
      (pp. 172-191)
      HYE SEUNG CHUNG

      Over the past three decades, several film and media scholars, including Eugene F. Wong (1978), Gina Marchetti (1993), Darrell Y. Hamamoto (1994) and Peter X. Feng (2002a; 2002b), have begun chronicling the myriad manifestations of Oriental stereotypes in American popular culture. As documented by these and other scholars, Hollywood studios and mainstream cultural producers have long excluded or marginalised performers of Asian extraction through the politics of ‘role segregation’ (prohibition against Asians playing white characters while the reverse – Caucasians playing Asian characters – is deemed acceptable) and ‘role stratification’ (wherein leading roles are reserved for whites, leaving only bit...

    • 12 THE POLITICS SPEAK: PERFORMING RACE FROM SWEETBACK TO FOXY BROWN
      (pp. 192-205)
      STEPHANE DUNN

      In the performance of racial identities on the big screen, dialogue operates as a preeminent signifier. Specific periods in American cinema in particular reveal the ways that a style of dialogue acts as a critical device both thematically and formally, revealing the politics of race, gender and other social categories. Dialogue, furthermore, indicates the politics off-screen. Specifically, racial identities or, rather, notions of racial identities and the visualisation of skin colour through bodies shape dialogue so that, for example, non-white characters register as ‘black’ or ‘ethnic’. Traditionally, this has meant that black characters appear in ways that not only conform...

    • 13 MALE SOUNDS AND SPEECH AFFECTATIONS: VOICING MASCULINITY
      (pp. 206-220)
      DONNA PEBERDY

      About halfway through The Maltese Falcon (1941), Humphrey Bogart’s private investigator Sam Spade meets the effeminate Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) in the lobby of the Hotel Belvedere. Cairo is annoyed at the performance Spade gave to two police detectives the evening before, which showed Cairo as deceptive and untrustworthy. ‘You always have a very smooth explanation ready’, Cairo observes. ‘What do you want me to do?’ Spade replies in deadpan fashion, ‘Learn to stutter?’ The ostensibly throw-away retort draws attention to the speech affectation as bearer of social and cultural stereotype and offers the stutter as the antithesis of Spade’s...

  9. INDEX
    (pp. 221-224)