The Literary Merit of Film Scripts

Screenplays are often given any sort of attention when they make the transition to a completed film; they’re seen as companion pieces. Even then their value as literature is overlooked or plainly not considered. All films are adaptations of their source scripts. Should screenplays be judged as independent works separate from the finished films? Are they worthy of the same critical attention given to other works of art? Is there a difference between a filmed screenplay and an unfilmed one in this regard?

  • I think there is an unfair advantage and large difference between filmed and unfilmed screen plays because made films have inherently more content just because of scenes. A screen play could be minimal but because of staging or prop choices the film could be overflowing with symbolic imagery the screenplay never specified. I don't know how often this happens... this is also because no common person has access to original screeplays of their favourite films. Should we? – Slaidey 9 years ago
  • It is important to remember that screen plays are not intended to be the final product, and that they do not include all of the nuances that are in the final film. Actors ad-lib or try several ways of delivering lines. Further, screenplays differ from stageplays in a vital aspect: consistency. Every time you watch a film, the same lines are delivered the same way and each shot is the same, compared to a stage play where even the same run with the same actors may have different deliveries between performances. Films, are the full package and are the product that has longevity, so it is the film, not the screen play, that is studied and analyzed. For stage plays, the performance has the full package, so to speak, but has no longevity, and so it is the script that is studied because it is the only part that will be the same between viewings/readings. Your idea of an unfilmed screenplay raises new ideas, though. There are plenty of examples of literature that are written as plays but weren't intended to be performed. In that way, I would see an unfilmed screenplay as the literature to be studied. Some authors use the screenplay format in novels, such as Walter Dean Myers' Monster. – nsnow 9 years ago

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