Screenwriting and dreams

According to the idea of Lucretius, the marvellous divine shapes first stepped out before the mind of man in a dream. It was in
a dream that the great artist saw the delightful anatomy of superhuman existence, and the Greek poet, questioned about the secrets of poetic creativity, would have also recalled his dreams and given an explanation similar to the one Hans Sachs provides in Die Meistersinger.

“My friend, that is precisely the poet’s work – To figure out his dreams, mark them down. Believe me, the truest illusion of mankind Is revealed to him in dreams: All poetic art (maybe we can include screenwriting, here?) and poeticizing Is nothing but interpreting true dreams.”

From Nietzsche’s ‘Birth of Tragedy’ (1872)

The full title is actually ‘The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music …

And I have always loved this line – The beautiful appearance of the world of dreams, in whose creation each man is a complete artist .. and, hopefully each screenwriter as well!

Apollo & Dionysus

” A fugitive and cloistered virtue?” Never!

I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat. Assuredly we bring not innocence into the world, we bring impurity much rather; that which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary.

John Milton ‘The Areopagitica’ 1644 A.D.

It is true Liberty when free born men
Having to advise the public may speak free,
Which he who can, and will, deserv’s high praise,
Who neither can nor will, may hold his peace;
What can be juster in a State then this?


Euripides ‘The Suppliants’ c 423B.C.

John Milton 1608 – c 1674

He is the man the scholar Christopher Hill called “a more controversial figure than any other English poet.” Heretic, revolutionary and supporter of regicide, outspoken defender of divorce, anti-Catholic, vitriolic political pamphleteer, John Milton was also one of the supreme poets in the English language.

Euripides 480 – c 406B.C.

Unique among writers of Ancient Athens, Euripides demonstrated sympathy towards the underrepresented members of society. His male contemporaries were frequently shocked by the heresies he put into the mouths of characters!

All the best stories have a ‘shadow’ – The Fugitive Stag is no exception.

… and Zarathustra again alone … heard behind him a new voice which called out: “Stay! Zarathustra! Do wait! It is myself, O Zarathustra, myself, your shadow!” But Zarathustra did not wait … “Where has my lonesomeness gone?” spoke he.

My shadow calls me? What matter about my shadow! Let it run after me! I- run away from it.”

Thus spoke Zarathustra to his heart and ran away. But the one behind followed after him … (Nietzsche’s ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ – LXIX).

The struggle against is as valiant as the struggle for; the difference lies in the fact that the one who struggles against has his back to the light. He is fighting his own shadow. It is only when this shadow exhausts him, when finally he falls prostrate, that the light which sweeps over him can reveal to him the splendours which he had mistaken for phantoms.

From Henry Miller’s ‘The Time of the Assassins’ (1946)

Screenwriting. A blessing, a curse, a responsibility?

H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) 1886 – 1961

H.D. believed passionately that Beauty and Goodness belonged together and declared that the world will not be sustained, will not exist, without that classic ancient Beauty.  She extended the reach of her symbol to a definition that is central to her concept of art: “Beauty, among other things, is reality…Beauty brings a curse, a blessing, a responsibility.” 

She also believed in the sacred responsibility appropriate to the artist within the new film medium of her day.

The accurate presentation of Beauty is a sacred trust; a “silver goddess” image, for example, could function as an eidolon, a mystical evocation of deeper meanings, an inner reality, the “something beyond something.”

That sacred responsibility applied to film-maker as to poet. In Trilogy, H.D. affirms the sacred role of the poet, insisting that the “scribe” must have “protection” – he takes precedence of the priest, stands second only to the Pharaoh.

For H.D. both the art of poetry and the art of film were responsible for the evocation of deeper truths. She believed, as did the Romantic poets, that the gifted artist, said to be “inspired by the muse”, has a conduit to the divine, which takes form to human senses in the beautiful work of art. In Trilogy, her poetics shapes the symbolic presences of a mother-goddess and feminine Holy Spirit who emanates poetry’s spiritual power – the power of words in themselves – to bring resurrection and peace to a devastated world.

The UK’s young genre filmmakers are shaking up the industry by Fionnuala Halligan …


Comment: The UK’s young genre filmmakers are shaking up the industry

“If the industry wants new voices — and it desperately needs them — we should remember that, once given access, they won’t have the same old stories to tell, and neither should they be expected to. It is time, maybe, to tear down the house, because diversity and access are vitally important. But the story you tell when you get that access is more important than anything else. Kitchen-sink drama be damned: Glass, Garai, Weekes — the class of the new decade is young, talented and pissed off. They’ve got things to say. British cinema, and its future, will be all the better for them.” Fionnuala


The half-a-millennium old carvings that ended-up at the heart of my screenplay …

circa 500 years old Northern European carvings – depicting scenes from the life of St Hubert -the two were in my care … the wood is lime wood and so very light.
The catalyst for my quest – and subsequent epic story – was their theft from ‘my’ church, just after Easter 1988. I was devastated. Wounded in a way that took me years to come to terms with.


It was a privilege to be their custodian for a few years, and to have these excellent prints of them. And, of course, memories that no one can steal.

Cervus fugitivus, forever an ‘elusive presence in my life!

The Fugitive Stag – one of the myths behind a key scene…

Delacroix’s Jacob and the Angel completed 1861

“In immense silence, 
They measure themselves awhile; 
Each suddenly throws himself upon the other; 
Transported, gripped alike, 
Their threatening arms do bend, 
Pressed flank to flank; 
Like a great, uprooting oak, 
Their trunk leans o’er and sways 
Above their entangled knees.”

Delacroix was maybe inspired by Lamartine’s ‘Poetical Meditations’ which describe the two beings entwined like the knotted trunks of the trees looming over them.

The mural is in the Chapel of the Holy Angels, Church of Saint-Sulpice, Paris based on the story in Genesis 32: 22-32)

Alexander Lopuis Leloir’s version from 1865