Films (almost) without words.

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Dave Watterson

Films (almost) without words.

Post by Dave Watterson » Mon Jan 06, 2003 11:41 pm

I have been translating some movies over the last few weeks ... from other
tongues into English and from English (and Scots) into German. My languages
are not very good but several generous people have helped.

Perhaps you will understand why I am starting to wonder if the best movies
are those with a minimum of dialogue!

Now I know that is not always true. A recent re-screening of "A Man For
All Seasons" reminded me of the sheer delight a superbly crafted script can
give when performed by first-class actors. But arguably that is really a
filmed play, though well opened out for the screen.

Given less perfect performers there is a lot to be said for cutting the chat
in drama.

But what about documentaries. They are often hell to subtitle because the
commentary is packed with information. In an ideal world I might arrange
for it to be re-recorded in the target language but that depends on being
able to get the necessary original music and fx tracks to maintain the rest
of the sound mix.

Part of me relishes the data that a good commentary in my own language gives
me ... but part of me keeps insisting that film is a visual medium and that
it is more appropriate to have the major part of the information coming through
our eyes.

What think you all?

Dave

Michael Slowe

Re: Films (almost) without words.

Post by Michael Slowe » Tue Jan 07, 2003 7:05 pm

"Dave Watterson" <forums@theiac.org.uk> wrote:
I have been translating some movies over the last few weeks ... from other
tongues into English and from English (and Scots) into German. My languages
are not very good but several generous people have helped.

Perhaps you will understand why I am starting to wonder if the best movies
are those with a minimum of dialogue!

Now I know that is not always true. A recent re-screening of "A Man For
All Seasons" reminded me of the sheer delight a superbly crafted script
can
give when performed by first-class actors. But arguably that is really a
filmed play, though well opened out for the screen.

Given less perfect performers there is a lot to be said for cutting the
chat
in drama.

But what about documentaries. They are often hell to subtitle because the
commentary is packed with information. In an ideal world I might arrange
for it to be re-recorded in the target language but that depends on being
able to get the necessary original music and fx tracks to maintain the rest
of the sound mix.

Part of me relishes the data that a good commentary in my own language gives
me ... but part of me keeps insisting that film is a visual medium and that
it is more appropriate to have the major part of the information coming
through
our eyes.

What think you all?

Dave
I have always regarded film as a visual medium which uses sound to assist
in creating whatever impression the producer is aiming at. I hark back with
nostalgia to my first 8mm. days when sound was so difficult and the visuals
had to be that good! Now people seem to require wall to wall narration however
unecessary. Having said that one of my latest films has ---- wall to wall
narration! If you are having to subtitle something like this you will probable
manage a crafty "edit" of the words and save yourself a lot of trouble!
Happy New Year Dave.

AN

Re: Films (almost) without words.

Post by AN » Wed Jan 08, 2003 2:29 pm

"Michael Slowe" <michael.slowe@btinternet.com> wrote:
"Dave Watterson" <forums@theiac.org.uk> wrote:
I have been translating some movies over the last few >>weeks ......
Perhaps you will understand why I am starting to wonder if the >>best movies
are those with a minimum of dialogue!
What think you all?
Dave
I have always regarded film as a visual medium which uses sound to assist
in creating whatever impression the producer is aiming at. I hark back
with
nostalgia to my first 8mm. days when sound was so difficult and the visuals
had to be that good! Now people seem to require wall to wall narration........
By implication a documentary film is a document, be it about a
town/person/place/way of life etc. So the sudience not only
wishes to see but to be given interesting facts too.
Hence it is near impossible not to use the spoken word frequently in documentaries.

The 'mood' type film showing scenes set to music never requires any words
at all, as the visuals convey 100% of what the director wishes to state.


For me, I have always made my films universal for this reason.
In this way anyone in the world can understand them without
any spoken words at all.
In over 40 years of film making (on and off) I have NEVER ever used a single
spoken word!!
There's far too much drivel spoken in this world anyway....
I choose to call it 'verbal diarrhoea' !

Albert....a bit constipated after Xmas!! :-)

Michael Slowe

Re: Films (almost) without words.

Post by Michael Slowe » Wed Jan 08, 2003 6:51 pm

"AN" <Animation@btopenworld.com> wrote:
"Michael Slowe" <michael.slowe@btinternet.com> wrote:

"Dave Watterson" <forums@theiac.org.uk> wrote:


I have been translating some movies over the last few >>weeks ......
Perhaps you will understand why I am starting to wonder if the >>best
movies
are those with a minimum of dialogue!
What think you all?



Dave
I have always regarded film as a visual medium which uses sound to assist
in creating whatever impression the producer is aiming at. I hark back

with
nostalgia to my first 8mm. days when sound was so difficult and the visuals
had to be that good! Now people seem to require wall to wall narration........


By implication a documentary film is a document, be it about a
town/person/place/way of life etc. So the sudience not only
wishes to see but to be given interesting facts too.
Hence it is near impossible not to use the spoken word frequently in documentaries.

The 'mood' type film showing scenes set to music never requires any words
at all, as the visuals convey 100% of what the director wishes to state.


For me, I have always made my films universal for this reason.
In this way anyone in the world can understand them without
any spoken words at all.
In over 40 years of film making (on and off) I have NEVER ever used a single
spoken word!!
There's far too much drivel spoken in this world anyway....
I choose to call it 'verbal diarrhoea' !

Albert....a bit constipated after Xmas!! :-)
Albert, as usual, you are speaking good sense. Your type of film is truly
universal needing no explanation. I have often managed to do the same and
for preference would always do this, which answers Dave's question as far
as we two are concerned. Certainly 99.9% of amateur drama (dialogue ) films
are let down by the dialogue, and particularly delivery, time after time.
Read any professional script and one is struck by how sparse the dialogue
is.
By the way on a personal note I was surprised by a judges recent comment
on my last year's film (Pelicans) that had only music and FX that "I would
have liked to have had more information (spoken?) about the pelicans! You
can't please everyone.

AN

Re: Films (almost) without words.

Post by AN » Thu Jan 09, 2003 9:27 am

"Michael Slowe" <michael.slowe@btinternet.com> wrote:
Certainly 99.9% of amateur drama (dialogue ) films are let >down by the
dialogue, and particularly delivery, time after
time.
How true. But then much TV continuity suite announcing/ reporting is also
very poor these days too on delivery, so it's not only the amatuer 'who can't
talk proper like!'
On another tack, I am making a study of reporters on TV who would make the
best conductors (music).
Those that cannot talk without waving their arms around! I await with pleasure
for some wag to set these 'wavers' to music!
Read any professional script and one is struck by how sparse >the dialogue
is. By the way on a personal note I was surprised >by a judges recent comment
on my last year's film (Pelicans) >that had only music and FX that "I would
have liked to have had >more information (spoken?) about the pelicans! You
can't please >everyone.

I haven't seen your film but I can well imagine how one could study Pelican
imagery as purely a visual experience without wishing to know any spoken
facts. It's best to please yourself
when film making I guess, and if someone else (or many ) likes it too.......
Albert.

Dave Watterson

Re: Films (almost) without words.

Post by Dave Watterson » Fri Jan 10, 2003 1:35 pm

Do you think it feasible to produce a useful, interesting and entertaining
documentary without words?

At UNICA a couple of years ago there was an excellent wildlife film about
kingfishers which showed a great deal of their daily life without a word
being spoken. I have vague memories of a professional film about some city's
urban transport system which was also wordless.

Of course many early documentaries from the silent days were without commentary
- some even avoided caption cards. Those with DVD players can enjoy "Berlin
- Symphony of a City" for example.

In general it seems possible to show WHAT happens in a documentary with pictures
alone but much harder to indicate the reasons for the actions.

I certainly do not want to deny the power, importance and wonder of words
in film.

Dave

Michael Slowe

Re: Films (almost) without words.

Post by Michael Slowe » Fri Jan 10, 2003 9:52 pm

"Dave Watterson" <webmaster@theiac.org.uk> wrote:
Do you think it feasible to produce a useful, interesting and entertaining
documentary without words?

At UNICA a couple of years ago there was an excellent wildlife film about
kingfishers which showed a great deal of their daily life without a word
being spoken. I have vague memories of a professional film about some city's
urban transport system which was also wordless.

Of course many early documentaries from the silent days were without commentary
- some even avoided caption cards. Those with DVD players can enjoy "Berlin
- Symphony of a City" for example.

In general it seems possible to show WHAT happens in a documentary with
pictures
alone but much harder to indicate the reasons for the actions.

I certainly do not want to deny the power, importance and wonder of words
in film.

Dave
Dave -- Grierson's Night Mail?

Ned Cordery

Re: Films (almost) without words.

Post by Ned Cordery » Sat Jan 11, 2003 12:34 am

Dave -- Grierson's Night Mail?

Night Mail had lots of words - including the famous poetic ending by Auden.
Ned C

AN

Re: Films (almost) without words.

Post by AN » Sat Jan 11, 2003 12:12 pm

"Michael Slowe" <michael.slowe@btinternet.com> wrote:
By the way on a personal note I was surprised by a judges >recent comment
on my last year's film (Pelicans)
that had only music and FX that "I would
have liked to have had more information (spoken?) about the >pelicans!
You can't please everyone.
Further to this...Have just received the British tape which has your film
on it. The tape is SVHS and I only have a VHS machine so the viewing was
grotty. But I have seen your film Michael and I must say that the judge
you mention was talking nonesense.
You have mentioned in the past what trouble you go to in music selection
and I can see why. Great editing to music.

I particularly liked the 'dropping' shots of the birds edited in stages to
match the falling music chords. Any spoken words would have broken this
'ballet of birds'. Maybe if your film title had been less 'documentary looking'
and more 'dance like' if you see what I mean, then the judge would have not
said that.

Anyway wife and I did enjoy it....as by the way, I enjoyed Mal's film on
Chester with his commentary that kept the film moving,
but the SVHS tape in VHS machine spoilt it all rather, so we didn't watch
anymore.

Great stuff guys.
Albert.

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