Film is a film written by Samuel Beckett, his only screenplay. It was written in 1963, shot in 1964 with Buster Keaton in the central role, and first shown in public in 1965. The director for that version was Alan Schneider.
The version as shot differed from Beckett's original script in a number of ways. The work is studied by, and has been the subject of criticism from both film and theatre scholars, with the former tending to study the film as shot, the latter tending to study the script as written. Critical opinion is mixed, but it is generally held in higher regard by film scholars than it is by theatre or Beckett scholars.
What the viewer of Film sees is a man in a street (Keaton) being followed by the camera. The man only becomes aware he is being followed when the angle between himself and the camera exceeds a certain degree. When this happens, he shrinks away from the camera and the camera quickly adjusts so it cannot be perceived once more.
The man goes to a room, where there is a cat, a dog, a parrot and a goldfish. He takes the cat and dog out of the room, and covers the parrot cage and goldfish bowl with his coat. Likewise, a print on the wall of God staring at him is removed and torn up, and a mirror hanging on the wall is covered up. The impression given is of a man attempting to flee all perception.
At the very end of the film, the man begins to sleep, and the camera exceeds the angle by which he can be perceived by the man, moving directly in front of him. The man wakes up, and for the first time sees his pursuer, who is revealed to be not some external force, but the man himself. A possible reading of this is that self-perception is inescapable. Thus, it is not surprising that the original script begins with George Berkeley's dictum, "esse est percipi," meaning, "to be is to be perceived."
In Beckett's original script, the two facets of the protagonist are represented by the letters E (the Eye) and O (the Object).
The film is silent, apart from a single "sssh!" near its beginning.
Keaton reportedly was unhappy with his role in the movie, as it differed from any movie he had taken part in previously.