Samuel Beckett’s “Film”

Samuel Beckett’s only screenplay, Film, was written in 1963 and filmed in New York the following year. I watched it online at UbuWeb. Beckett originally wanted Charlie Chaplin to play the lead (referred to only as “O”) but this didn’t work out, and the role eventually went to Buster Keaton.

The film differed slightly from the script as written, but it was approved by Beckett as he was on set at the time. I read the script as part of my edition of his Collected Works, but this was the first time I had seen it on screen.

The film explores one man’s bid to escape from an all-seeing eye – perhaps meant to represent the camera itself. It is almost totally silent, and is a rather eerie experience. It’s short, but memorable: simple on the surface, but I’m sure it would repay careful study.


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