> I'm not an advocate of the screenwriter as auteur, because I'm
> really just interested in the finished film, but I did write acareer
> article on another great writer of particular interest to our
> genre-oriented members, Richard Matheson. which is probably
> still up at the web site of Written By, the WGA magazine. That's
> where I first proposed the formula that directors "interpret "
> scripts, which is my common-sense revision of a perverse
> formula invented by Jean-Claude Biette, the brilliant French
> critic-filmmaker who died ten days ago at age 60, in an article
> called "Reseeing Wichita": "In Wichita Jacques Tourneur extracts
> the full content - moral, ideological and psychological - of the
> script. I know of no better definition of 'mise-en-scene.'"
I just saw a good film that really made me think about what constitutes
screenwriting and direction. The line between them can get fuzzy at
times, of course.
The film is the Israeli TV movie SLAVES OF THE LORD by Hadar Friedlich.
Apparently it was in Directors' Fortnight. The film's concept has
great purity and integrity, and Friedlich's script follows the concept
through without hesitation or compromise. Her direction isn't beyond
reproach: many of the supporting actors have that leaden, unrevealing
diction characteristic of so many Israeli films, and the visuals are
often inexpressive. And yet I don't want simply to say that the film is
well written and badly directed. Something about the way the film is
directed conveys that Friedlich is fully aware of, and focused on, the
script's narrow, laser-like, fatal trajectory. At the risk of sounding
mystical, that focus constitutes direction. Sometimes just being aware
of what you are doing constitutes direction, even if it partly manifests
itself in stuff you don't do.
Maya Eshet's performance in the lead role is indeed beyond reproach, but
I don't know how much credit to give the director for this.
The film is playing twice more in NYC in the Israeli Film Festival, on
Sunday afternoon and next Wednesday afternoon. - Dan