Internal monologue: 3 films using internal monologue skillfully

In the previous posts, we mentioned that dialogues should be organic conversations that arise from the interaction of the characters with each other or their environment. If your script contains a monologue in the form of an internal monologue, that is, if the character speaks in a way that only the audience can hear, and not another character, you can write it with the same logic. In other words, your intention is not to tell a story or explain a story, but to enable the character to interact with the audience, or to create a new atmosphere where images and sounds are not provided alone. Otherwise, a monologue will not be different from an audiobook, rather than a creative audio element in a motion picture.

In this post, we will examine 3 films of 3 directors who skillfully used internal monologue with different approaches.

Narrator internal monologue

A Man Escaped, 1956 – Robert Bresson

internal monologue

A Man Escaped (1956) describes the escape of a French resistance from a German prison during World War II. The movie focuses on the details of the meticulous work of the main character to escape.

French director Robert Bresson gives the sound a very important role in this film. Instead of sounding the image, it allows the viewer not only to see the world of the main character but also to fully hear it. At first, the internal monologue of the main character looks like a narrator in the classical sense, but when we examine it a bit, it is not at all. Bresson makes his character speak like a real person, not like a storyteller, but constantly interpreting his situation and interacting with his environment. The monologue never goes under the yoke of the image and does not explain the image, but it manages to move what we see to very different points. Thus, even though the inner voice is not intended to tell a story directly, it becomes the most important narrator element of the movie.


Interpretive internal monologue

La Collectionneuse, 1967 – Eric Rohmer

internal monologue

An art dealer goes to a seventeenth-century villa on the Riviera for a relaxing summer vacation. However, he starts to feel uncomfortable with the existence of a young girl with whom he has to share the villa. In the film, we witness the moral psychology of the art salesman based on seducing or not seducing, caring for or neglecting her.

We wouldn’t exaggerate if we say La Collectionneuse (1967) is the best film that uses the internal monologue skillfully in the history of cinema. Since the internal monologue in the cinema provides direct communication between the audience and the character, it creates the impression of ‘absolute truth’. That’s why we, as the audience, tend to believe what the characters say. But, isn’t there a chance for one to be wrong about himself and his ideas?

Here, another French director Eric Rohmer emphasizes exactly this issue, simultaneously the main character interprets the situations as monologues. These thoughts, which create the feeling that has not passed through any narrator filter, give the character a real personality. But the key point is not the realism caught, but the skillful processing of the character’s ability to take actions that contradict what he is saying, or to be able to suddenly change his thoughts that he is very confident and has managed to convince the audience.


Atmospheric internal monologue

The Tree of Life, 2011 – Terrence Malick

In Tree of Life (2011), which is equipped with magnificent images and music, where American director Terrence Malick handles subjects such as existence, creation and the meaning of life through the members of a family living in Texas in the 1950s. In this film, the internal monologue was used to contribute to the atmosphere of the movie. Unlike the other two examples, we do not hear the characters interpret their situation in this movie, but build intermittent sentences on impressive images and sounds. Int these sentences mostly family members appeal to each other, nature and a creator, and they turn into sounds that impress the audience by giving the film a spiritual and poetic atmosphere.

That’s all we have to say about these three movies that we strongly recommend you watch.

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Internal Monologue FAQ

What is an internal monologue?

An internal monologue is an inner voice by only one person.

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