When was the last time a subtitle made you cry?

Jeremy Bullmore

Jeremy Bullmore reflects on the magical power of words and wonders why copywriters' efforts seem so thoughtlessly clumsy

The Most talented screen writers are those who are best at leaving things out; who know about inference and nuance; who can convey a character's character through hints and allusions; who have sufficient faith in the mental agility of their audience to infer, to complete, to get it. The most talented screen writers are those who, as they type, are simultaneously projecting the intended pictures on their internal screens, so that the ear doesn't duplicate what the eye will be doing.

In the much-quoted words of Arthur Koestler: ‘Language itself is never completely explicit. Words have suggestive, evocative powers; but at the same time, they are merely stepping stones for thought.’ (That last sentence of Koestler's is itself a lovely little illustration of the truth it's expounding: ‘stepping stones for thought’ coaxes the reader into an understanding far more telling than any ponderous explicit exposition could have done. But of course, you'd already got that, hadn't you? So sorry.) Koestler goes on to say: ‘The artist rules his subjects by turning them into accomplices.'