Ever Wondered What The Script For A Silent Movie Looks Like?


Michel Hazanavicius‘ screenplay for The Artist has been published online by The Weinsteins as part of their For Your Consideration campaign.

What makes this script particularly interesting to read is that it lays down the blueprint for a silent film in nothing but action and the odd title card (well… more or less). Silent movie scripts really aren’t so abundant.

Right at the beginning, the screenplay sets out the aesthetic particulars of this idiosyncratic production:

Silent film, illustrated musically, with some title cards to indicate the dialogues, with actors whose lips move when they speak although we never hear their voices. The images are in black and white, in format 1.33.

Unlike films made and exhibited before the advent of cinematic sound, everything you hear – which is pretty much just music – is synced to the print with The Artist, so there’s no need for an accompanist, little chance of anything getting out of order, and the film will be received with pretty much identical audio wherever it goes. Almost feels like cheating.

Recently, Hazanavicius appeared on Jeff Goldsmith’s Q&A podcast and discussed the writing of the script at length. He revealed that, at some point, the screenplay was punctuated with photographs from the original silent movie era, the setting of his film.

None of those pictures remain in this published draft.

But, well, it reads like a dream, as well as being a nice example piece. Be wary of spoiling the film for yourself, of course, but I do think this screenplay is well worth a good read.