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SCREENPLAY PINTER RADIO ADAPTATION Conrad’s Victory

 

Book Society Edition 1952

Conrad Victory: Book Society Edition 1952




Harold Pinter’s Victory



Available on BBC iPlayer for who knows how long. Unfortunately Harold Pinter wasn’t there to do read his own stage directions. If you heard Pinter’s Proust Play on BBC radio many years ago, you will understand.

Here the blurb from the iPlayer webpage:

Harold Pinter’s previously un-produced screenplay of Joseph Conrad’s last major novel, Victory, adapted for radio by director Richard Eyre. Lena, a touring English violinist, accompanies a commercial ladies orchestra to the Dutch East Indies in 1900. There, she encounters Heyst, a reclusive Swedish baron who lives alone on a deserted island. Tired of being pursued by a host of predatory men, Lena is intrigued by the aloof and mysterious Heyst, who in turn forgets his disenchantment with life and humanity and invites her to escape with him to his remote home. However, the pair’s romantic idyll is interrupted when one of Lena’s spurned suitors seeks vengeance. Psychological drama, starring Bjarne Henriksen and Vanessa Kirby, with narration by Simon Russell Beale. {1}



World premiere for Harold Pinter play – 33 years after it was written

Playwright’s discarded script for a film based on Joseph Conrad’s novel Victory has been adapted for Radio 4 by Richard Eyre with roles for Vanessa Kirby, Mark Strong and Simon Russell Beale

Radio 4 to broadcast forgotten Harold Pinter screenplays

Notes

Amazing how many editions of Victory there were, which can be seen by looking at the Google search. Hard to make a choice. Could profitably spend a while looking at book covers of Victory and all Conrad books while waiting for warmer weather. Note some have the full title: Victory – An Island Tale. Penguin Modern Classics took a detail of Die Windsbraut by Oscar Kokoschka

Conrad Victory : Penguin Modern Classics

Conrad Victory: Penguin Modern Classics




Victory e-book [Gutenberg]

Another e-book version at The Literature Network with better layout and individual chapter links.[But NB you’ll need to use Control + or – to get the text right]

An audio book summary [12 mins. Says it’s speech synthesis, though the voice is very good, not mechanical. As per speech syn., it’s a continuous flow without the gaps a reader would put in for punctuation. Quite funny.] ~ Just imagine this is Pinter speed-reading his own summary of the novel and he’s thinking, thinking about the screenplay.

Over the years 5 film versions, one Polish. Interesting to note in wiki: Joseph Conrad the list of Conrad films and adaptations, famously the based on Apocalypse Now [1979].

Quite natural to start to think about Conrad’s filmability. That Heart of Darkeness was a tricky one is well known. Conrad on Film [1997], here on GoogleBook enough even with the missing pages for many facts and thoughts. There is discussion of fidelity, Conrad’s irony and mention that Victory has been the favourite Conrad of filmmakers [so you’ll wnat to check tht out to see why..]. NB in the notes, p.15, that Orson Welles wrote a screenplay for Lord Jim and one for Victory which was called Surinam. The Lord Jim we known was written by Richard Brooks.


Joseph Conrad in Context


Pub. 2009.


[p.91-97/92 & 93 unavailable, tantalisingly about Conrad’s attempts to write plays of his books]


Ch. 12. Dramatic and other adaptations by Richard J Hand. As always just when it gets interesting a page is missing….but talks of play adapatations before going on to film in section II, which starts promisingly with, “Cinema provides the real triumph of Conrad adaptation.” Couple of paras on Welles’ involvement with screenplays of Conrad.

What can you adapt and how can you adapt it has always been a film preoccupation of mine. In COTA mentions of Fowles’The French Lieutentant’s Woman [Carol Reitz] and a post or 2 on Pinter’s Proust screenplay [available as a book], which only ever got to be a radio adaptation, which was a worthwhile thing to do, both because it was wonderful to listen to and at the same time as visual as a film. Film vs. radio adaption is an interesting and important topic.

Currently, though not posted about, my idée fixe on Graham Moore’s screenplay of The Imitation Game as an example of how not to do justice to a famous, important real person [though everyone seemed to enjoy the film]. Or even: how not to do it at all once presented with the enormity of the justice required [SMILES. PURSES LIPS. NODS.]. I tweeted furiously for weeks giving excerpts from the screenplay in the hope it would help in some small way to discouraging thoughts of awarding it Best Adapted Screenplay. Mirabile dictu – though not through my tweets, obviously – it hasn’t had a look in so far, except in being nominated. There will inevitably be a biopic soon on the life of Graham Moore, scriptwriter, for which I have put down in my mental notes for a script a must do reference, in some form or other, to Altman’s The Player, even if it only in the form of those trendy TXT-messaging-heads-up-on-screen thingys between scriptwriter and producer. If you feel an urge to work up a script along those lines, I’d be happy to join it. A fiction of course.



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March 12, 2015 Posted by | Pinter | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM SCREENPLAY Pinter’s Proust





GRAPHIC SCREENPLAY Pinter-Proust




“The Past Is a Mist”: Pinter’s Proust

Christopher Richards, Paris Review, 23 Jan 2014


All the Dirty Bits of Marcel Proust, by Harold Pinter

–On stage, the English master of menace and the ponderous Frenchman find a common language in a feat of adaptation


Interesting to learn that a staged reading of Pinter’s Proust Play has been performed. My introduction to the Pinter was the BBC radio adaptation which I wrote about.


Little patch of yellow wall or a single asparagus? : Harold Pinter’s The Proust Screenplay


Little patch of yellow wall or a single asparagus? Harold Pinter’s The Proust Screenplay {2}


Later, having thought a little in general about novel or screenplay, a small post on that with a brief mention of adapting Proust, and a link to the YouTube of the BBC radio adaptation of Proust by Mike Butt.


Novel vs. Screenplay


If all this a bit too heavy or you, a soufflé of silliness and naughtiness from Monty Python:


All England Summarise Proust Competition



February 6, 2014 Posted by | Pinter, Proust | , | Leave a comment

FILM ADAPTATION Re-visiting Pinter’s Proust



The previous post about novel and screenplay made me think again of Pinter and his Proust Play.

These two were not around when I did my Pinter/Proust posts*


In Which Harold Pinter Changes Marcel Proust


Alex Carnevale in This Recording, 23 August 2011


and


Pinter the Adapter: The Proust Screenplay in Notes and Drafts


Naoko Yagi


No date on this pdf. But she’s a prof. at Wasada University with one of her research areas listed as: Harold Pinter’s plays, screenplays, and prose.


*


Little patch of yellow wall or a single asparagus? : Harold Pinter’s The Proust Screenplay


Little patch of yellow wall or a single asparagus? : Harold Pinter’s The Proust Screenplay {2}



September 17, 2013 Posted by | film, film adaptation, Film on radio, Film script/screenplay, Pinter, Proust | Leave a comment

Novel vs. Screenplay

PHOTO FILM NOVEL pile of scripts

Photo from: Christopher Fowler*’s Blog

‘The differences between a screenplay and a novel are equivalent to the differences between a blueprint and a finished building.’

–Peter Bauer

The idea came to me to search on novel vs. script, without really knowing precisely what I was looking for. Mostly about, Am I writing a novel or a screenplay?, and if others puzzle over and articulate on this. But one thing leads to another.

Rebecca Chace, a published novelist, writing in Publishing Perspectives, did screenplay to novel to screenplay: Literary 360: Rebecca Chace on Going from Screenplay to Novel to Screenplay. Summary:  if you write a screenplay then feel like writing the novel, put the script away and write from scratch.

I don’t think I could do that. I’m pretty sure I’d be checking scenes in the script and trying to pad it out with prose and re-jig. Though they say since a script is for a film – sound and vision – how you piece together the story is so radically different in a novel, that’s not going to achieve the result.

True perhaps of the narrative structure, but the scenes you have written in a script can be visualised so well, are bound to be there as you write your novel. After all you sit there seeing the scenes and then you write the script. I can see one particular part of a story I wrote. I can live inside this place, move around it so easily, even ‘film’ extra shots and re-see them edited in where I think they might fit. How to ‘epoché’ the lot written as a script to sit down and write from scratch looks impossible from where I’m sitting.

At the same time, how can you not think of the beginning of a novel, a long, drawn out languorous first few paragraphs, and not see it or attempt to frame it visually? O.K., pick a really hard one to be awkward. Para 1, Book 1, The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil, [Wilkins/Kaiser translation].

There was a depression over the Atlantic. It was traveling eastwards, towards an area of high pressure over Russia, and still showed no tendency to move northwards around it. The isotherms and isotheres were fulfilling their functions. The atmospheric temperature was in proper relation to the average annual temperature, the temperature of the coldest as well as of the hottest month, and the a-periodic monthly variation in temperature. The rising and the setting of the sun and of the moon, the phases of the moon, Venus and Saturn’s rings, and many other important phenomena, were in accordance with the forecasts in the astronomical yearbooks. The vapour in the air was at its highest tension, and the moisture in the air was at its lowest. In short, to use an expression that describes the facts pretty satisfactorily, even though it is somewhat old-fashioned: it was a fine August day in the 1913.

MWQ has never been filmed. Not because of that intro that could be scripted, but it’s an essayist novel. Always had the same trouble with A la Research, though it’s been attempted usually in part such as Time Regained, Raul Ruiz,1999. (Sidenote: BBC radio version of Proust was effective. Pinter’s Proust Play – a screenplay no one would film – was brilliant, but had whole chunks of the book missing. Pinter decided to leave out the Madeline, and use the sound of bells as a linking device. But this is another subject: film script vs. radio script)

How To People all over the place are having their say about novel and script [screenplay]. The Novel vs. The Screenplay: A Practical Guide for Talented Writers by James Bonnet in Storymaking.com. One thing caught my eye:

…the screenplay can be an excellent first draft for a novel.

Anyone who has started writing a story, who is interested in both forms, knows this can go either way. And sometimes there can be such a conflict that a novel and a script are developed in parallel without a final decision about which to finish and which to drop. The advantage of doing both is if you were shifting more to novel – but you’ve been playing  with a script – you’re ready to think about the adaptation! Then there’s the thing about writing a novel in a film like way. Common now. But go back to writers like Graham Greene.

From Screenplay to Novel

Peter Bauer says briefly pretty much the same thing (‘The differences between a screenplay and a novel are equivalent to the differences between a blueprint and a finished building.’ ), but shows how the script can’t just be transposed into a novel and why.

All these things are what you work out for yourself but it’s handy to have someone laying it out clearly.

Screenplay vs. Novel in Anatomy of Perceval, 20 July 2013. All sorts of writing things and 6 degrees to.

(Every wonder if a website on writing you are reading is just some guy in a bedroom with a dream? He hasn’t got a published novel nor is he a Hollywood scriptwriter…)

* wiki: Christopher Fowler

September 15, 2013 Posted by | Novel, Pinter, Raúl Ruiz, screenplay, screenwriting | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Little patch of yellow wall or a single asparagus? Harold Pinter’s The Proust Screenplay {2}


We read The Proust Screenplay with all kinds of things in our mind: Proust, Pinter’s reading of Proust; the problem of abridgment, the problem of dramatization, the problem of visualization; the film which might have been made from this script; the script itself as a literary work, words on the page. In permitting and controlling the interplay of these things Pinter has created a small masterpiece of wit and understanding.


Michael Wood, Times Literary Supplement, June 2nd 1978

(Source: HaroldPinter.org)


..the study of adaptation is logically tantamount to the study of the cinema as a whole.

Dudley Andrews [Concepts in Film Theory]



Now I have the Pinter Screenplay book, instead of relying on the audio tape, it seems only sensible to do a second post to try pull things together.

First, the first post.  If it was not obvious: the asparagus was my little joke to illustrate the book to film problem.

Second, having read Michael Woods Foreward and Pinter’s Introduction, I can see I pretty much got to the gist of it.  [1]  How the Pinter screenplay and radio version worked.  [2] Other attempts apart from Pinter’s, including screenplays, finished films and the BBC radio serial. [3] Adaptation in general.

Here I want to to consolidate with quotes from Wood’s and Pinter’s intros. and a few more online articles. Maybe in a third post, I’ll tackle the screenplay in more detail.

Wood first classifies scripts/screenplays into the stages they reach, from glints in the mind through partial completed scripts to those that have been made into films, then places Pinter’s script in the category, along with Visconti’s version, that was completed but not realised in film.

He goes on (my break into numbered sections for convenience) :

[1] …it is also something else, a distinguished representative of yet another genre: the film script which already, as a text, has an unmistakable life of its own.

[2] Reading a work of this kind has particular challenges and attractions, both resembling and not resembling those of reading the text of a play.

[3] The play text is close to the film script, because in both cases we have to imagine the whole show in our heads. The difference is that with a play we hear it more than we see it, we conjure up possible voices and tones, think about insinuations and intentions. We concentrate on the dialogue, worry less about furniture and the set and the blocking out of the actor’s movements.

[4] Reading a film script, we invert these priorities. We hear the words in our head, certainly, but mainly we see the settings, the faces, the gestures, the light. We even need to see – this may be the most important feature of our reading – the spaces between the shots and the sequences  they make. We need to reconstruct for ourselves the visual language of the unseen film, turn it into something that is neither  just a collection  of moving photographs nor a story that could easily have been  told in another medium.

Pinter:

For three months I read  A la Researche du Temp Perdu every day. I took hundreds of notes while reading but was left at the end quite baffled as to how to approach a task of such magnitude.

[..] We decided that the architecture of the film should be based on two main and contrasting principles: one, a movement, chiefly narrative, towards disillusion, and the other, more intermittent, towards revelation, rising to where time that was lost is found, and fixed forever in art.

[..]  Proust wrote Du Cotes de Chez Swann first and Le Temp Retrouve, the last volume, second.

[..] The relationship between the first volume and the last seemed to us the crucial one. The whole book is, as it were, contained in the last volume. When Marcel in Le Temp Retrouve, says that he is now able to start his work, he has already written it.  Somehow this remarkable conception had to be found in another form.

[..] In Le Temp Retrouve, Marcel, in his forties, hears again the garden bell of his childhood. He is conscious of himself as a child, his memory of the experience, is more real, more acute than the experience itself.

There are a great number of Proust articles and essays in findarticles.com. A few deal directly with Pinter and his screenplay, but my favourite is the Duncan McColl Chesney:

Giving Proust the Pinter treatment

Independent, The (London)May 17, 1997 by Robert Hanks

Proust at the Movies

Modern Language Review, TheJan, 2007 by Jane Walling

Radio: Proust for the pressed

Independent on Sunday, TheMar 20, 2005 by Nicholas Lezard
Deals with the BBC Radio 4 Classic Serial 6-parter.

Proust and Cinema, or Luchino Visconti’s search by Duncan McColl Chesney
12 page essay
Dudley Andrew’s typology of adapatation
– “three modes : borrowing, intersection, fidelity of transformation.”
[page 3: detail and examples]

Here I’ll add Anita Brooker’s short review, A grand overview, of Paintings in Proust by Eric Karpeles, which is interesting of itself but also because it helps to illustrate the problem Pinter had in chosing how to represent the art in Proust:

She says right away:

Proust was a translator of Ruskin, yet he rejected Ruskin’s message that art has a moral foundation. For Proust art was a self-explanatory and self-sustaining exercise which excluded praise and condemnation.



February 17, 2009 Posted by | Pinter, Proust, screenplay, screenwriting | , , , | 1 Comment