Film Novels: A Poetics

Dissertation, Brigham Young University (2002)

Authors
Dennis Packard
Brigham Young University
Abstract
In this study, I explore the viability of what Carl Dreyer called film novels or filmscripts in the form of novels. I show that these novels are viable---that is, they can be written and filmed in ways that deeply engage us in understanding them. ;In the introduction, I explain that this study is a poetics---that is, it formally defines film novels, specifies a standard for successful film novels, and specifies ways of creating film novels so that they are likely to be successful. I then survey what scholars have written about these script-like novels. ;In the first chapter, I define film novels as short, visually engaging novels-that is, short novels that continually engage readers in picturing scenes. I then explore the historical background of this type of novel. ;In the second chapter, I explain that successful film novels are interpretively engaging---that is, they engage readers, not only in continually picturing scenes, but also in thoughtfully interpreting them. I then trace the history of film novels and show how they, and films based on them, have engaged readers and viewers in interpreting them. ;In the third chapter, I explain that thoughtful interpretation can be understood as generous interpretation if we use the word generous as Jean-Paul Sartre did. Drawing on Sartre's philosophy of literature, I explain how generous writers engage readers in generous interpretation. ;In the fourth chapter, I explain how writers can generously create characters and plots for film novels. In the fifth, I present detailed exercises to help writers generously create scenes and storylines for film novels. In the sixth, I explain how filmmakers can generously turn film novels into films. ;I conclude that film novels come from a tradition of highly visual novels, film novels can be deeply engaging, and this engaging quality can be preserved in films
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