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110_01_Holocaust through Hollywood's Eyes
Transcript of 110_01_Holocaust through Hollywood's Eyes
Liberal Arts Seminar, IntDiscStudy110-01
1. Syd Field outlines the paradigm (i.e. screenplay structure) of a screenplay. Given the expectations that he outlines in this paradigm, how might that approach affect writing a screenplay about historical topics?
2. The chapter on adaptation directs future screenwriters on how they should adapt novels, historical events, biographies, etc. What is his advice and what impact might that have on the accuracy and authenticity of the film?
3. On pages 207-208, Field describes a screenplay that was based on a "disaster story of 650 pages". He had to make choices; what does his choices suggest in terms of how screenwriters are generally taught to adapt?
4. What are Field's "rules of engagement" for writing a screenplay for a historical film? Does he help you ponder what your "rules" will be?
5. In comparing Rosenstone, Engelen, and Field, who would be more and least accepting of compression, alterations, and displacement in a historical film. Explain why.
Breaking down the Chronology of
1 September 1939-November 1940
November 1940-July/August 1942
August 1942-mid June 1943
mid June 1943-January 1945
ch. 15-18 Epilogue
filmmakers must create DRAMA and communicate VISUALLY
Goal of film review:
remember rhetorical audience
do not simply report accuracies or inaccuracies (not a review and audience won't know why)
Before writing, you may want to ponder accuracies and inaccuracies to contemplate filmmaker choices/interpretations of the past which may affect how you evaluate the film (remember filmmakers are helping to shape the collective memory of an event)
avoid personal reactions to the film "I like" or "to me"
Goal of discussion:
Not trying to reach consensus; trying to generate ideas and hear other p.o.v.
As a professional historian, my concern about Defiance revolves around these questions:
1. What is the filmmaker’s translation of the past and the message/lesson being conveyed?
2. “Have the characters been unnecessarily simplified or modernized?”
3. Has the compression of events or condensed timeline significantly altered the results of the events? Was it necessary?
4. Given that invention and alterations occur in every frame, “What alternatives might have been considered?”
What do you need clarification on? What confused you?
What is most essential to portray from what you have read?
What is the message/lesson/spine that holds the story together?
Based upon what Szpilman wrote, what character notes would you suggest for Szpilman and his family?
When should the film begin? Classical narrative? Flashback?
What advice would Syd Field give to writing a screenplay adaptation from the memoir,
Robert Rosenstone, p. 44
Techniques of Filmmakers making historical films
Displacement: move events on the timeline
Alteration: “a character engages in actions or expresses sentiments that may have belonged to a different historical figure or to no one”
Dialogue: most is invented to helps audience “understand characters and their motivations”
Characters: most is invented in terms of “intonations, gestures, and movements” because we don’t have most on video/film
Compression: compress events into a smaller time frame (comparable to displacement) and compress multiple characters into one