Le emozioni nel dialogo cinematografico: implicito e tensioni drammatiche nei confronti verbali tra personaggi

  • Paolo Braga
Keywords: Film dialogue, Indirect speech acts, Conflict, Subtext, Dialogue and emotions


Philosophy of language and semiotics have seldom studied cinematic dialogue. The topic has always gained limited attention also in research fields more directly interested in cinema, like film studies. Only recently, within the area of screenwriting studies, a few contributions have started to focus specifically on the importance of dialogue as a part of film as text. I will deal with this issue, specifically considering how dialogue creates subtext – i.e. layers of meaning implied by characters in their exchanges – and, through it, emotions. First, I will argue that dramatic subtext has two fundamental roots: the tension stemming from the character’s inner flaw, and the one stemming from his hidden agenda. On this basis, I will sketch a map of four main types of subtext. Finally, I will highlight which emotional pattern is typical of each kind of subtext, resulting from the interaction between character’s emotions and viewer’s emotions.


Austin, John Langshow (1962), How to Do Things with Words. London: Oxford University Press (2nd ed. 1975) (Come fare cose con le parole, tr. it., Carlo Penco - Marina Sbisà, a cura di, Marietti, Bologna 2019).

Booth, Wayne C. (1961), The Rhetoric of Fiction. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (2nd ed. 1983) (Retorica della narrativa, tr. it., a cura di A. Poli e E. Zoratti, Dino Audino, Roma 2016).

Booth, Wayne C. (1988), The Company We Keep. An Ethics of Fiction, University of California Press, Berkeley - Los Angeles - London.

Braga, Paolo (2003), Dal personaggio allo spettatore. Il coinvolgimento nel cinema e nella serialità televisiva americana, Franco Angeli, Milano.

Braga, Paolo (2012), Parole in azione. Forme e tecniche del dialogo cinematografico, Franco Angeli, Milano.

Braga, Paolo (2014), «Il reframing argomentativo su istituzioni e valori nella pratica di sceneggiatura», in Linguaggio e istituzioni. Discorsi, monete, riti, numero speciale di Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio, pp. 26-40.

Braga, Paolo (2017), «‘Dramatic tone’ as the emotional core of a screenplay: The case of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly», in Journal of Screenwriting, 8 (1), pp. 67-81.

Braga, Paolo (2019), «Mapping Subtext by Using Thematic Coordinates», in JOMEC Journal. Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, 13, pp. 51-69.

Braga, Paolo - Fumagalli, Armando (2016), Introduzione a Wayne C. Booth, Retorica della narrativa, Dino Audino, Roma 2016.

Carroll, Noël (2001), Beyond Aesthetics. Philosophical Essays, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Carroll, Noël, (2007), On Ties that Bind: Characters, the Emotions, and Popular Fictions, in William Irwin, Jorge J.E. Gracia, a cura di, Philosophy and the Interpretation of Pop Culture, Rowman and Littlefield, Lanham, MD.

Carroll, Noël (2010), «Movies, the Moral Emotions, and Sympathy», in Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 34:1, pp. 1-19.

Fumagalli, Armando (2008), L’happy end fra logiche narrative e richieste del mercato, in Maria Pia Pozzato, Giorgio Grignaffini, a cura di, Mondi seriali. Percorsi semiotici nella fiction. Link-Ricerca, RTI, Milano, pp. 139-157.

Jaeckle, Jeff, a cura di (2013), Film Dialogue, Columbia University Press, New York – Cichester, West Sussex.

Kozloff, Sarah (2000), Overhearing Film Dialogue, University of California Press, Berkeley - Los Angeles.

Macdonald, Ian (2013), Screenwriting Poetics and the Screen Idea, Palgrave, Basingstoke (UK).

Marks, Dara (2006), Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc, Three Mountain Press, Studio City, CA (L’arco di trasformazione del personaggio, tr. it., Dino Audino, Roma 2007).

McKee, Robert (1997), Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting, Harper Collins, New York.

McKee, Robert (2016), Dialogue. The Art of Verbal Action for Page, Stage and Screen, Hachette Book Group, New York - Boston.

Mizzau, Marina (2002), E tu allora? Il conflitto nella comunicazione quotidiana, Il Mulino, Bologna.

Nelmes, Jill (2011), Realism and Screenplay Dialogue, in Idem, a cura di, Analyzing the screenplay, Routledge, New York, pp. 217-236.

Plantinga, Carl (2009), Moving Viewers: American Film and the Spectator’s Experience, University of California Press, Berkeley.

Roeser, Sabine (2011), Moral Emotions and Intuitions, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke - New York.

Seger, Linda (2011), Writing Subtext. What Lies Beneath, Michael Wiese Productions, Studio City.

Truby, John (2007), The Anatomy of Story, Faber and Faber, New York.

Vogler, Chris (1992), The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, Michael Wiese production, Studio City.

York, John (2013), Into the Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them, Penguin, London.

How to Cite
Braga, P. (2020) “Le emozioni nel dialogo cinematografico: implicito e tensioni drammatiche nei confronti verbali tra personaggi”, Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio. doi: 10.4396/SFL2019EC3.
Emotions and communication