Pictorial beauty on the screen (1923)

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22 BEAUTY ON THE SCREEN wake. Now if the scenario writer adds something else to the same scene, or prescribes the mutual rela- tion of things and movements which are to appear in the next scene, he is, of course, merely continuing the process of cinema composition. Insofar as the writer makes the combination of these things essential to the story he circumscribes the power, he may even tie the hands, of the director. For the latter, unless he ignores the composition thus begun, can do only one thing with it; he can only carry it on. Now it is a sad thing to relate that many scenario writers do not suspect the truth of what we have just said. Some of them are evidently unaware of the significant fact that their description is really a pre- scription, that even by their written words they are really drawing the first lines of hundreds of pictures, that they are actually engaged in pictorial composi- tion. They may be without knowledge of graphic art and without skill. They may not be able to take a pencil or a piece of charcoal and sketch out a horse or a hut or the general aspect of a single pictorial mo- ment as it would appear on the screen. They may never have given any thought to the question of how best to arrange simultaneous or successive movements in order to give the strongest emotional appeal to the spectator. Yet they are drawing screen pictures, and drawing them on the typewriter! Of course, even the most intelligent scenario writers, even those who have the most accurate knowl- edge of pictorial values on the screen and the keenest power of visualizing their story as it will appear after it has been screened, are always handicapped by work-