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    David Mamet Debates Why He Thinks Films Don’t Need Dialogue – The Music news


    David Mamet is standing by his belief that films don’t need dialogue to be able to enjoy them.

    On the latest episode of Real Time, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, screenwriter and director debated the topic with Bill Maher after the host asked him, “We wouldn’t want to go back to the silent movies, would we?”

    “Yeah!” Mamet responded. “Here’s why… We watch movies in translation, right? That are done. So we don’t know what the dialogue is, right? We watch movies in translation that have subtitles, so we don’t know what the dialogue is. Also, we’ll watch a movie with the sound off on the airplane. We’re watching the next guy’s movie, you can’t tell the dialogue, right? You have no idea, [and] you have no trouble following that movie.”

    Maher was quick to note that people don’t have trouble following “some movies.” But Mamet quips in response, “Yeah, French movies you can follow it but who cares?”

    Later during their conversation, Maher told the screenwriter that one of his takeaways from his newest book, Everywhere an Oink Oink: An Embittered, Dyspeptic, and Accurate Report of Forty Years in Hollywood, was that he cares “more than anybody I’ve ever read about the audience and not boring them and making sure they care what comes in the next scene.”

    Mamet, who’s known for his trademark rapid-fire dialogue, said it’s “because I prefer being a playwright to when I used to be a cab driver.”

    He explained that he learned a lot when he had a little theater company in a garage with Billy Macy and Joe Mantegna “a million years ago,” where they would put on plays at night.

    “It was the only way one can learn how to write a play is to sit with the audience and say, wait a second?” Mamet said. “Just like you and the comedy writers, right? You’re writing for them [the audience], you aren’t writing because some suit had a good idea. You realize you got their attention until you lose it. And if you put in an extra syllable in the joke, you lost their attention, and if you put in an extra joke, you can’t get them back.”

    To that end, Maher questioned the playwright, ‘So you would say plays do need dialogue?”

    But Mamet noted that he writes dialogue because he’s able to write dialogue, and that “the dialogue can only serve the purpose of interest in the audience. If it doesn’t, I’m back to driving a cab.”

    He continued, “You learn this when you’re working with an audience because you can feel, just like you can, when they lose their attention, when they start to drift. You go back and say, ‘Guys, you know, I don’t think this quite works, let’s try it again.’ So when you’re writing for the audience, you learn to write a play and it’s shameful because you say, ‘Oh my God, I thought this was the best thing anybody ever wrote.’”

    Elsewhere in the interview, Mamet said he wanted to prove to the Real Time audience why dialogue is not necessary in movies.

    “The next time you’re sitting in your living room watching TV. At some point, you might want to get up and use the facilities, right? … But here’s my question: How do you know what point to do that? Because you know nothing’s gonna happen [verbally] in the scene,” he explained.

    Mamet’s book Everywhere an Oink Oink: An Embittered, Dyspeptic, and Accurate Report of Forty Years in Hollywood hits bookshelves on Dec. 5.



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