Take a close look at the painting below. (Thank you, David Bordwell, for your superb piece on narrative paintings.) This is a special moment, isn’t it? Notice their body language. He seems casual, relaxed, but detached. His legs are pointing away from her.
Is he just shy and that’s why he has three books with him? I wonder, is he working up the courage to converse with her? Is he interested in her? His left hand is conveniently close to brushing her arm.
She, on the other hand, seems stiff and stoic. She wants to interact with him. I dare say, she wants to be touched. She’s rigid in her posture, almost nervous, and with her right hand unfolding the shawl, there’s a hint of invitation.
Would you like to know its title? Married by Walter Sadler. To quote Mr. David Bordwell, “Once the title tells us that the couple are husband and wife, we can infer that their passion has subsided, largely through the husband’s self-absorbed inattention. Did he really need to take three books into the garden? The single-word title also lets us see certain elements as iconographic clues.
The audience would be sucked right in with curiosity.
The woman’s white dress and bouquet recall the wedding, and the fallen badminton birdie and racket suggest an earlier time when they played together. Kristin sees sexual symbolism in the flowers in her lap and the books in his. The gallery’s caption suggests that the turtle is going off to hibernate and that the blocked-off back garden suggests no future for the relationship.”
I can imagine this as an opening scene in a film. The audience would be sucked right in with curiosity, wouldn’t they? Not only that, I would rather watch a scene like this with music and no dialogue and just observe these two characters interact and wonder what’s going to happen next than five pages of talk. Everything we need to know about this couple is told to us through visuals and body language and acting.
Screenwriters are filmmakers, too.
I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say it would be rare to read about a scene like this one without dialogue. We would only discover a scene like this in a script if it was composed by a writer-director for his/her own film.
Screenwriters are filmmakers, too, but I believe too many screenwriters (amateurs and pros alike) don’t think visually enough, which is in part why I wrote such a glowing review of Cinematic Storytelling. It isn’t enough to write a good story. We have to render that story cinematically.
– Mystery Man
In his own words, Mystery Man was “famous yet anonymous, failed yet accomplished, brilliant yet semi-brilliant. A homebody jetsetting around the world. Brash and daring yet chilled with a twist.”
MM blogged for nearly 4 years and tweeted for only 4 months, then disappeared – mysteriously.
The Story Department continues to republish his best articles on Monday.
Here, you’ll also be informed about the release of his screenwriting book.