Saturday, 17 October 2009
Hearing verse / hearing metre
The difference between rhythm and metre has been on my mind recently arising out of a discussion with a doctorate student who talked of rhythm as something superior to and quite other than metre. I can't quite see how this might be since rhythm presupposes some kind of regularity against which it plays.
The reason it comes to mind today is that I have been working on a commission to produce a verse play for radio. Something very short, of only some seven minutes length.
I had heard of a Hollywood film whose screenplay was in blank verse and had long wanted to find it. Mentioning this to a film studies colleague at university, she first said she hadn't heard of it, then, to my great delight, an hour or so later knocked at my door and held out a DVD of it.
The film is Force of Evil (1948), a version of film noir starring John Garfield. The director and co-screenwriter was Abraham Polonsky whose first film it was. It turned out to be his last for twenty years. Polonsky was a Marxist in the McCarthy era and the film was a study of financial corruption. It has some excellent performances and the verse script. Can't embed but I can link to some dialogue. The blank verse is in there, beautifully naturalised. 'Look it up for yourself while you are at it...' says the femme fatale. 'What do you want? What are you waiting to see?' he shouts.
I have a draft. We'll see how it goes.