Sunday, December 4, 2016
Screenplays and Adaptations
The primary interest of this book, for me, was the unproduced screenplay of Nostromo, which was to have been directed by David Lean, who died before any filming started. That it contains another screenplay which was actually filmed, wasn't much of an attraction. So here are two screenplays by Christopher Hampton, based on two novels by Joseph Conrad. I watched the film of The Secret Agent, which as a film, when you don't know the original novel, is fairly good. With Nostromo, you don't have the visuals, just the words on a page, and it's very disappointing. Read the novel instead. What the magic of David Lean as cinematographer might have done with Nostromo is left to the imagination. And I'm not saying that anything is really wrong with Hampton's screenplay. I've just found, time after time, that the process of adaptation ruins the key factors in a book that make it exceptional. Perhaps it's best to avoid seeing adaptations of books one has read and admired. Original films, designed and written for the screen, are another thing entirely. Adaptations, by their very nature, are diminutions from the original work of literary art.