From book to film, Tue 9 June 09 at The Blue Mugge pub

derek tatton
8 June 2009

Book > Film:   The Reader
ODD Circle   Tue 9 June 09 at The Blue Mugge pub

A discussion on film and TV adaptations of novels.   

1.    Joseph Conrad’s  novelistic intention:   ‘My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear,  to make you feel – it is, before all, to make you see.’   (1897).

2.   ‘As anyone who has seen any version of Anna Karenina knows, a great book does not necessarily make a great film’    
Mark Brown, in an article this month introducing the recent attempt to select ‘The top 50 adaptations from book to film’.   

3.   Our discussion will begin with several who have read The Reader and seen the film commenting upon those quotes.   Don’t worry if you’ve not read this book or not seen the film.   A brief narrative summary will be given and the aim this evening is to engage with general issues around adaptations.   Everyone, in every bar tonight, will have seen some kind of film adaptation?

4.   For example, some film theorists have argued that a director should be entirely unconcerned with the source, as a novel is a novel while a film is a film…

5.   We will discuss three adaptations from the above ‘top 50’:   The French Lieutenant’s Woman,   1984, and Pride and Prejudice.   Members present (with notes prepared on adaptations of these) will make further general points about these works.

6    John  Fowles,  author of The French Lieutenant’s Woman kept a diary on the filming of his novel.  
This will be referred to.   
a)    ‘There was trouble with the proposal scene and one day Karel (the director) rang me to see if I could help – it was too curt and quick.  “Harold  (Pinter, who wrote the screen play) says he’ll do anything, but he simply can’t write a happy scene”.

b)     Fowles on an earlier attempt to film his novel   “Of course, he (Fred Zinnemman) has also failed to see throughout that the book is too complex for the medium, especially when it has to be put over in two hours”.      Could that be said about most film adaptations?

7.   A few words on Dickens and adaptations of his novels on film and TV.  

8.    Shakespeare has been called the most popular screenwriter in Hollywood.   
Not novels, but plays…a few words on selection of the best Shakespeare screen adaptations.  

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