We have seen that in the silent era, some filmmakers were finding (using Rothwell’s general formula) ‘the best available means to replace the verbal with the visual imagination’. When Hollywood sound films became established by the early 1930s, the visual certainly became a preoccupation, though often through a compulsion to create lavish visual spectacle. The ‘verbal’ was not so much getting transformed imaginatively into film imagery; rather, it was being uneasily adapted for a film audience not accustomed to listening attentively to Shakespearean dramatic dialogue (continuing the tradition of late Victorian/Edwardian spectacular theatre). Since Hollywood cinema was in transition from silent to sound film, the filmmakers were primarily focused on two tasks: ‘establishing the first principles of matching sight and sound, while at the same time rebuilding an impregnable star system after the silent era in order to sustain the very costly medium which the sound films had become’ (Manvell, 1971, 35).
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