I want to say a few words about the job of a script-writer, if only to give a better understanding of my feelings at that time. As everyone knows, the script-writer is the one who - generally in collaboration with another script-writer and with the director - writes the script or scenario: that is, the canvas from which the film will later be taken. In this script, and according to the development of the action, are minutely indicated, one by one, the gestures and words of the actors and the various movements of the camera. The script is, therefore, drama, mime, cinematographic technique, mise en scene and direction, all at the same time. Now, although the script-writer's part in the film is of the first importance and comes immediately below that of the director, it remains always, for reasons inherent in the fashion in which the art of the cinema has hitherto developed, hopelessly subordinate and obscure. If, in fact, the arts are to be judged from the point of view of direct expression - and one does not really see how else they can be judged - the script-writer is an artist who, although he gives his best to the film, never has the comfort of knowing he has expressed himself. And so, with all his creative work, he can be nothing more than a provider of suggestions and inventions, of technical, psychological and literary ideas; it is then the director's task to make use of this material according to his own genius and, in fact, to express himself. The script-writer, in short, is the man who remains always in the background; who expends the best of his blood for the success of others; and who, although two-thirds of the film's fortune depends on him, will never see his own name on the posters where the names of the director, of the actors and of the producer are printed. He may, it is true - and as often happens - achieve excellence in his inferior trade, and be very well paid; but he can never say: "It was I who made this film ... in this film I expressed myself ... this film is me." This can only be said by the director, who is, in effect, the only one to sign the film. The script-writer, on the other hand, has to content himself with working for the money he receives, which, whether he likes it or not, ends by becoming the real and only purpose of his job. Thus all that is left for the script-writer is to enjoy life, if he is capable of it, on the money that is the sole result of his toil ... now, working together on a script means living together from morning to night, it means a marriage and fusion of one's own intelligence, one's own sensibility, one's own spirit, with that of other collaborators; it means, in short, the creation, during the two or three months that the work lasts, of a fictitious, artificial intimacy whose only purpose is the making of the film, and thereby, in a last analysis ... the making of money. This intimacy, moreover, is of the worst possible kind - that is, the most fatiguing, the most unnerving and the most cloying that can be imagined, since it is founded not on work that is done in silence, as might be that of scientists engaged together on some experiment, but on the spoken word ... indeed, the mechanical, stereotyped way in which scripts are fabricated strongly resembles a kind of rape of the intelligence, having its origin in determination and interest rather than in any sort of attraction or sympathy. Of course, it can also happen that the film is of superior quality, that the director and his collaborators were already, beforehand, bound together by mutual esteem and friendship, and that, in fact, that the work is carried out in the ideal conditions that may occur in any human activity, however disagreeable; but these favourable combinations are rare - as, indeed, good films are rare.

Alberto Moravia, A Ghost at Noon (1955)

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