Conrad and Cinema: The Art of Adaptation

Conrad and Cinema: The Art of Adaptation

Conrad and Cinema: The Art of Adaptation

Conrad and Cinema: The Art of Adaptation

Synopsis

"The purpose of this book is to show how the wedding of fiction film works out concretely in a book that focuses on the screen versions of the work of a single novelist, Joseph Conrad. Conrad is not only one of the greatest writers of this century, but has the distinction of having all of his major works committed to film, including Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness (as Apocalypse Now). Here is an in-depth study of the films of Conrad's fiction, solidly based on both literary and cinematic theory. The author conducted interviews with several of the notable directors who made Conrad films, including Sir Alfred Hitchcock and Francis Coppola; this interview material is a highlight of the book." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Graham Greene

I have long suspected that a high-class murder is the simple artistic ideal of most film directors. --Graham Greene

I have sometimes doubted Alfred Hitchcock's talent. As a director he has always known the right place to put his camera (and there is only one right place in any scene), he has been pleasantly inventive with his sound; but as a producer and as a writer of his own scripts he has been appallingly careless: he has cared more for an ingenious melodramatic situation than for the construction and continuity of his story. in Sabotage, which is derived from Conrad Secret Agent, for the first time he has really "come off."

Sabotage is not, of course, Conrad Secret Agent. That dark drab passionate tale of Edwardian London could never find a place in the popular cinema, and only Jacques Feyder, I think the director of the silent version of Zola Thérèse Raquin, could transfer its peculiar qualities--of madness and despair in four- wheelers and backstreets--to the screen. But Mr. Hitchcock's adaptation of Conrad's novel is on a different level from his deplorable adaptation of Somerset Maugham Ashenden stories: his version of Conrad's melodrama is convincingly realistic, perhaps because Hitchcock has left the screenplay to other hands.

The story retains some of the ruthlessness of the original. Mr. Verloc is no longer an agent provocateur, but a straightforward destructive agent of a foreign power, who keeps a tiny independent cinema in the East End, and the film opens with his secret return home one night during a sudden blackout. (Hitchcock has not overcome in these sequences the difficulty of lighting a blackout--how far a little candle throws its beams!) . . .

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