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The Screen Adaptation
When the play first moved to Broadway, Shanley noticed that the greater number of people who saw "Doubt,” the more intense the reaction. "There was a dissonant thing that seemed to happen where all the different responses people were having simultaneously every night in the theater created a kind of common power,” Shanley says. "It seemed a lot of people felt passionately that the subject of certainty and its consequences was something they needed to talk about. And that's when I realized I'd like to do this as a film.”

As he began the adaptation, he saw that translating the story to the screen would allow him to explore many elements that simply couldn't be addressed in the play: the live of the nuns, the children at the school, the whole outside world of a Bronx neighborhood on the cusp of major changes. Shanley states, "I wanted to convey a real sense of community – because I knew that if we spent time with these families and their kids, we would begin to track how the actions inside the church take a toll on the world outside of it. By the end, I believe the consequences of Flynn and Aloysius' conflict strike a more profound emotional resonance since we see and know who is paying the price of their battle. The film allowed me to detail this aspect of the story which I was unable to in the play - but had always longed to do.”

It was also vital to Shanley to capture visually a sense of the spiritual devotion of the nuns, whose lives were so mysterious and often misunderstood to those outside their world. "With the film, I had the chance to really communicate the realm that the nuns lived in – the tradition and beauty in their world. I really wanted to use the silence of their lives as a part of the film's structure. It's a reminder in our noisy world that there can be great meaning in quiet and stillness.”

He continues, "And those silences also serve the story dramatically, allowing the audience time to consider what has been said, and to really focus on the deliberate choice of words by our characters. Flynn, for example, knows full well the impact of his words – he gives sermons to his congregation every week, and uses these moments to promote change and growth and openness in the community. His spare, precise words and his measured delivery during these sermons are freighted with meaning. As these parishioners sit in silence, listening, I was able to show the audience how his words affect other characters, as well as provide space to reflect on what is going on in their own hearts and minds.”

There was one overarching concern with the adaptation: conveying a sense of energy and urgency, and bringing the story's deeply embedded issues to the surface. "Flynn and Aloysius are dynamic, shrewd and verbal people, and they are not afraid to use words as weapons. So much of the drama of this story is in the dialogue – especially in the confrontation between Flynn and Aloysius. I needed to figure out a way to make that work cinematically,” Shanley says. "In the beginning I wrote half a draft and threw it away because I felt I was failing at translating the story – and for a while I was miserable.”

Then, came a creative breakthrough. It happened while Shanley was writing the scene in which Father Flynn gives his "pillow sermon,” about a woman instructed by her priest to gather pillow feathers scattered from a rooftop. "Instead of simply having Father Flynn speak, I shifted to images of the story he was telling, so you would actually see the feathers floating, and I found that very freeing,” Shanley explains. "I started writing the rest of the screenplay with that kind of spaciousness in mind. It helped me to get the past the characters' words and focus on the physical reality they inhabit. In a movie you can really explore the relationship between humanity and the natural world, the environments we move

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