Screenwriters in French cinema

Authors:
Sarah Leahy
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Isabelle Vanderschelden
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This book aims to demystify the place and power of the screenwriter within French film production, in creative and artistic terms, but also in the context of film criticism and film discourse more generally, whether that be in mainstream, popular or auteur cinema. Critical discourses on French cinema have tended to consider words to be of secondary importance to the image, regarding screenwriters as either over-dominant or completely eclipsed. The reality is, of course, that screenwriting has remained an integral part of the industry since the coming of sound. This book takes a number of key figures in the history of French screenwriting from the transition to sound to the present day, in order to explore the shifting function and position of screenwriters and major trends in screenwriting practice. It considers the industrial categorisation of screenwriting as adaptation, script development and dialogue writing, and explores creative practices around these three specialist areas – which are rarely as clearly defined as film credits might have us believe. It addresses and questions the myths that have emerged around certain writers in critical discourses, as well as the narrative mythologies that these writers have helped to shape in their films: from fatalism and the working-class (anti)hero to the small-minded petit bourgeois; from the neurotic protagonist to the naive fool of comedy. In doing so, it also reflects on the methodological challenges of screenwriting research, and the opportunities opened up by shedding light on these frequently neglected figures.

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