Friday, July 21, 2006

The art of SUBTEXT!

Almost since the inception of this blog, we have been studying...


Of course, we screenwriters all know very well what subtext is.

According to Wikipedia:

Subtext is content of a book, play, film or television series which is not announced explicitly by the characters (or author) but is implicit or becomes something understood by the reader / viewer as the production unfolds. Subtext can also refer to the thoughts and motives of the characters which are only covered in an aside. Subtext can also be used to imply controversial subjects without specifically alienating people from the fiction, often through use of metaphor. H.G. Wells's The Time Machine, for example, use the Morlocks and Eloi as metaphors for exploitative capitalists and exploited workers respectively.

Examples of subtext often include the sexuality of the characters. For example the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle in
Xena: Warrior Princess, which was left ambiguous throughout the series although some fans believed them to be lovers, or the nature of the relationship between the teachers in the film version of Lillian Hellman's play The Children's Hour which was based on an actual case in Scotland but toned down for film.

A scene in
Woody Allen's movie Annie Hall, in which subtitles explain the characters' inner thoughts during an apparently innocent conversation, is an example of the subtext of a scene being made explicit.

In the episode "My Best Friend's Bottom" of 'British TV comedy Coupling,
Captain Subtext is a tool used in the narrative to explicitly make the viewers aware of the subtextual message in the dialogue. Of course the dialogue and the subtext has been deliberately made humourous.

Listed below are all of the articles. Some were written by me and others were submissions from friends, bloggers, and fellow screenwriters.

We now have over 25 great posts on subtext in dialogue. We decoded wordless subtext, one-word subtext, single and double entendres, lines that have two or even three layers of meaning, subtext in seduction, poetry, evasion, and appeasement, the subtext of not saying what would normally be said, I could go on and on…

I want to officially and most sincerely thank from the bottom of my heart all of the contributors:

We will not EVER conclude our study on subtext. Whenever inspiration hits us, we will post new scenes to study & debate. If YOU discover a great scene with subtext and wish to submit it for our general edification, please feel free to email me.




Film Noir & the Subtext of Gilda



Annie Hall


The Shawshank Redemption


The Woodsman