Incorporating Elements of Live Theater into Film

It’s clear that film and theater share many traits, but they are still distinct artforms with distinct traits and capabilities. As such, films which incorporate theatric techniques, especially when adapted from plays, raise some worthwhile questions. Wit (2001), for example, addresses the camera directly with narration, and plays with costume changes for effect in scenes which the play would be unable to do so. Does this add some to strengthen theater, or does it move towards making theater definitively inferior? Is there a distinct line that film cannot cross that theater allows and vice versa, such as audience involvement, or not?

  • First of all the direct address should be handled carefully, because sometimes this will just be used to break the fourth wall. Mockumentaries like the Office obviously use this, as well as Jean Luc Godard's Tout va Bien. But with regards to theatricality in film I believe Laurence Olivier did a film version of Richard III that was filmed as though it was in a theatre. I also think Bollywood could be discussed as those films feel very much like live performances and take inspiration from Indian theatre types such as "natya shastra" and Sanskrit drama. – Jamie White 9 years ago
  • I don't think that there truly is a "line" between film and theater, just different terminology in each medium for a similar concept. With breaking the fourth wall, that isn't an idea unique to films like Wit since plays have done the same for hundreds of years. Shakespeare utilized breaking the fourth wall in at least two of his plays Othello and Richard III with a character speaking directly to the audience. Therefore it could be said that camera is to film as audience is to play for an actor's focal point in their performance. – dsoumilas 9 years ago

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