brain_spew: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] brain_spew at 02:12am on 22/09/2010
Let's talk talk.

When watching a movie or TV show, or even reading a book, dialogue is as important to the story as action. It is through the characters speaking that we learn about them, and how they think, speak, and act. Actions can only tell us so much. It is through speech that we connect with one another and exchange information.

In the first episode of the sitcom "Head Of The Class", teacher Charlie Moore enters the classroom, writes his name on the board and says "My name is Mister Moore. But you can call me by first name; 'Mister'." In this single line, we are given insight into his character and teaching style.

But perhaps more challenging is conversations. The audience must be made to believe that they are watching a genuine conversation. In Iron Man, Tony Stark and Pepper Potts have realistic conversations in which they talk at the same time, interrupt, change topics and give the viewer the impression that these are two people who have known each other for a long time. Their dialogue is dynamic, paced, energetic and engaging. Many other films and shows have the actors taking turns, each one delivering their line and using inflection and tone to give credibility to what is being said.

The problem with the second method is that no matter how well you film it or how well written the script, the delivery does not feel natural and throws the audience out of the suspension of disbelief required. Once this happens, the audience will have trouble reconnecting with the characters and their enjoyment is lessened, or even ruined.

However, having said all that, dialogue does not always come in the spoken form. There is a play and unfortunutly, I can't remember the name, but the entire show is a man sitting in a chair listening as an unseen woman berates him. He speaks not a word, but only reacts to what the voice says. His dialogue is in his face. A twitch of the mouth, a scowl, a sad smile. Although only the woman speaks, they are still having a conversation. As the play unfolds, we learn about the man, his life, and his mistakes and regrets. As surely as though he is speaking, he tells us what he is thinking. All without uttering a single word.

There is a power in the spoken word. A power as formidable as any method of war you would care to name. History has been shaped by words as much as it has been shaped by war. It was with words that John F. Kennedy started the Space Race, challenging America to put a man on the moon and bring him home. A hundred years before that, Abraham Lincoln issued the Gettysburg address, setting the United States firmly on the road to the American Civil War. Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" is written as a conversation in which Socrates convinces Glaucon of his philosophy that society is chained, imprisoned in a cave gazing at shadows, convinced that they are real. No writer, no historian, can ignore the power of conversation, of the spoken word.

Otherwise, we'd have nothing to talk about.

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