Can we actually “rewrite” a film?

Updated: Oct 17, 2016

Hashtag: #RewriteAFilmIn5Words

Can we actually “rewrite” a film?

Rewrite is not limited to piece of writing

The term “rewrite” by definition is to write something again. Its purpose is to correct or improve a piece of writing or a written document. In the academic world, rewriting a piece of document is to write it in a different manner, alter its form and make it concise, amend or carry out necessary improvements. However, is this definition and academic form of “rewrite” applicable to film?

In reality, the difference between a film and piece of writing such as books, articles, essays, and other written documents is their form. Films and written documents are actually mediums of communication where authors can transmit ideas to the audience. Moreover, if one would look closely, a film (except actual footage of real-life events of course) is nothing but a visual representation of a written story, images of scripted events, and ideas delivered in an explicit and more understandable form. The advantage, however, is that unlike paperbacks, films leaves nothing to the imagination and therefore complete and more accurate in terms audience comprehension.

Therefore, when someone says #RewriteAFilmIn5Words, the person is actually asking you to write a concise five words description of the written ideas successfully transmitted by the film you saw. Now, how would you do that? Since the understanding of ideas transmitted through a film is highly dependent on viewer’s (reader’s for paperbacks) recall and interpretation, slight variation in the rewritten text is expected. However, the rewritten text must reflect the main ideas and objectives of the film otherwise; it is nothing but a deceptive piece of writing.

Rewriting is an exact science

Rewriting a film is no different from rewriting an article, essay, and other written documents you read and understood. However, rewriting a concise version of an original document or film requires skills or the ability to restructure and write it in your own words without spoiling its main ideas and objectives.

If one would rewrite this article in 10 words, for example, the rewritten text will be something like “rewriting a film is possible but it must be exact”. Similarly, five words rewrite of the 1994 film “Shawshank Redemption” should be something like “Inmates redeemed through mutual respect” rather than simply “I have a black friend”.

The reason is that although the film is undeniably about true friendship, the film’s main idea, and the objective is much more than having a black friend. In fact, the film is sharing some ideas regarding the possibility of imprisonment regardless of innocence, education, and color, friendship between men can flourish through mutual respect, the power of education and knowledge in reducing difficulties in life, the effect of long incarceration on the ability of ex-convicts to start a new life, and others. If there is no word limit, then the rewritten text for this film will be longer, detailed, and precise.

A film rewrite should be accurate and like a piece of writing, the rewritten text should be different in form, improved, concise but communicating similar ideas and achieving the same objectives as the original work. In practice, rewriting academic text requires a thorough knowledge of the original work, paper formatting, and content restructuring, paraphrasing technique, different writing styles, consistency, and precision. Now, can we actually rewrite a film? Yes! Just apply these skills and you can rewrite a film in any number of words.

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