The Art and Genius of Anne Hébert: Essays on Her Works: Night and the Day Are One

By Janis L. Pallister | Go to book overview

Les Fous de Bassan:
The Film

JANIS L. PALLISTER

Yves Simoneau's 1987 filming of Les Fous de Bassan (called, in English, In the Shadow of the Wind) has raised many questions as to its fidelity to the novel both in tone and fact. It appears that, among other things, Simoneau was not Hébert's first preference as director. That was evidently Mireille Dansereau, although after Francis Mankiewicz dropped the project and the various scripts that had been proposed, it was Simoneau's turn to take it up. He prepared a script with Marcel Beaulieu, which, it seems—and curiously enough—Anne Hébert agreed to, though later she denounced the film.1 (All the politics surrounding the making of this film are narrated by Kathryn Slott "see Slott 1986" but have no real bearing on a discussion of the final film product.)

Although one of the chief arguments used against the film by some feminist critics is that the "importance of women in the novel" is deflated in the film, their importance is not automatically deflated by the use of one point of view, or the elimination of some of the figures, and Stevens Brown's hatred of women is made clear in the film. What is certain is that the tenderness that the film Stevens displays toward his brother is not absent from the novel. Moreover, murder and rape, coming from the profoundest depths of hostility, hate, and jealousy, together with a thirst for power, are the basis of Stevens's deeds, both in the novel and in the film. His will to dominate is carefully spelled out in many passages of the novel (e.g., Hébert 1982, 62–63 "village", 92 "parents"). Lust, of course, cannot be dismissed as one of his major motivating forces … the lust of Hades (Aïdoneus, Aides) when he saw Persephone disporting with the water spirits, and letting her flowers fall from her apron.

Description of color, or perhaps better colorlessness, is a dominant trait in Hébert's novel: blues, blacks, whites, and so on are mentioned from the first page to the last. And, of course, the gannets consolidate the omnipresent

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