It is commonly assumed, and regularly taught, that the key difference between playwriting and screenwriting is that the former tells the bulk of its story with words (it is dialogue-driven), while the latter relies more heavily on images (it is camera-driven). This may be true, but a less obvious difference is that onstage one needs words and performance to draw the audience’s attention to a certain spot or action (“Hey, look here!”), while onscreen all you need is a close-up or a camera move—the viewer can’t look anywhere else, no matter how much they might wish they could. It is a technique that served such visually teasing directors as Hitchcock and Polanski quite well, and it is at the heart of the film adaptation of Doubt, a 2004 Pulitzer Prize–winning play by John Patrick Shanley.


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