Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption

Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption is a novel written by Stephen King and published in 1982, far from The Shinning, closer to The Green Mile.

Andy Dufresne is arrested for the double murder of his wife and her lover. He is sent to Shawshank Prison for life. In this establishment, Andy meets Red, a prisoner who is specialized in procuring items from the outside world. Andy will undergo difficult trials during his imprisonment. The prison director, Samuel Norton, needs him to care for his shady business. But when Andy sees taking shape the opportunity to become free from the testimony of a new prisoner, Norton causes the assassination of the young man because he fears to see his fraud come to light when « his banker » is released. Thus, Andy will be discreet to better prepare his escape.

There is an adaptation of this novel directed in 1994 by Frank Darabont with Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. But the film was a commercial failure because of a topic not very attractive and no head liners. Yet, it was included in the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Movies 10th Anniversary Edition. James Whitmore is upsetting in the role of Brooks, an old prisoner accustomed to this universe and living badly his rehabilitation in society. Must be seen !

You can see the trailer here for more details on this film:

The Road

The Road is a novel written by Cormac McCarthy and published in 2006. There is a cinematographic adaptation directed by John Hillcoat in 2009, sometimes faithful to the novel, sometimes distant.

The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. It was devastated by a cataclysm. Giant fires have ravaged cities and countryside whereas wildlife has disappeared. The sun doesn’t appear behind the ash clouds. Many of the remaining human survivors have resorted to cannibalism, scavenging the detritus of city and country alike for flesh. A father and his young son wander in this setting, their scarce possessions collected in a supermarket trolley and backpacks. They are in search of a paradise and humanity, unfortunately, lost forever. Now, barbarism and violence dominate.

This initiatory journey focuses on the transmission and the subjectivity of values. The relationship between the father and his son (named in this way all the time in the novel) is really moving; they are bound by duty of survival and the desire to perpetuate the memory and culture in an age of darkness and despair. We can established a link with the myth of Sisyphus, the king of Corinth, in Greek mythology, who was punished for chronic deceitfulness by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this action forever. In The Road, we don’t know why the protagonists are here and they ignore themselves the future, perfect comparison with human condition.

It’s a very touching novel, haunting and heartbreaking at the same time. According to Michael Chabon (The New York Review of Books), ‘it is as a lyrical epic of horror’. The novel was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction in 2006.

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Kenneth Branagh: his passion for Willy

No, Kenneth Branagh isn’t only the Defence Against the Dark Arts instructor Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Chris Columbus, 2002), he is also a great director… Especially when he adapts William Shakespeare!

During his career, Kenneth Branagh adapted five plays written by the famous playwright, beginning with Henry V in 1989, and followed by Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Hamlet (1996), Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000) and As You Like It (2007). He can be considered as the greatest admirer of the playwright…

If the first three adaptations was enormous success all other the world, it isn’t the case for the others. The director wanted to modernize Shakespeare, but it was a fiasco, especially for the film directed by in 2000 (he turns into a romantic Hollywood musical). But the others productions have the merit to be predominant adaptations of playwright’s work, with many distinctions and nominations for an award.

Furthermore, we can find him in Othello, an adaptation directed by Oliver Parker in 1995 with Laurence Fishburne. Kenneth Branagh embodies Iago…

http://www.movpins.com/big/MV5BMTYzNzg2OTY0MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjQxNzgwMw/still-of-kenneth-branagh-in-hamlet-(1996)-large-picture.jpgKenneth Branagh during the filming of Hamlet (1996)

The Unknown Citizen

The Unknown Citizen is a satiric poem written by W. H. Auden in 1939, parodying the symbolic Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in dedication to the common memories of all soldiers killed in any war. Published the same year in The New Yorker, the poem is the epitaph of a man in a government controlled-state. The man is identified by this combination: JS/07 M 378.

In this poem, the citizen is considered like a saint, not because he searched for God but because he served the government perfectly. He did not get dismissed from his job. He was a member of the Union and paid all his dues to the union too. Here, W. H. Auden criticizes standardization and the modern state’s relationship’s with its citizens.

 

(To JS/07 M 378
This Marble Monument
Is Erected by the State)

He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports of his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of the old-fashioned word, he was a saint,
For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
Except for the war till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
Yet he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views,
For his union reports that he paid his dues,
(Our report of his union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day,
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
And his Health-card shows that he was once in hospital but left it cured.
Both Producers Research and High–Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Installment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
A gramophone, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of the year;
When there was peace he was for peace; when there was war he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation,
And our teachers report he never interfered with their education.
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

 

Scorsese: the master of organized crime

Who would have thought that Martin Scorsese had a passion for novels dealing with organized crime? Two novels written by Nicholas Pileggi were adapted for the screen by the famous director. Today, in my opinion, these films are the best of his career. Moreover, they have expanded his reputation.

Thus, Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family written in 1986 became Goodfellas in 1990 and Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas written in 1995 became Casino the same year. For both, Pileggi and Scorsese took part in the writing of screenplays. For the cast, the director did not hesitate to call two great actors, namely Robert de Niro and Joe Pesci. The two actors met on the shooting of Raging Bull in 1980 directed by… Scorsese, of course! In both films, these two legends steal the scene. They will stay icons forever.

Another film about this topic will be directed by the director, The Departed (2006), but without de Niro, without Pesci and without Pileggi

You can see the trailers here for more details on this film:

War Horse

War Horse is a children’s novel written by Michael Morpurgo and published in 1982. This novel was adapted for stage by Nick Stafford in 2007. In 2011, the cinematographic adaptation produced and directed by Steven Spielberg was released in cinemas.

The story takes place in France. It recounts the adventures of Joey, a horse bought by the Army for service in World War I, and the attempts of Albert, a teenage boy who is his previous owner, to bring him safely home.

http://www.dreamworksstudios.com/files/dm-ac-00034_website_version.jpgJeremy Irvine in War Horse (S. Spielberg, 2011)

Originally, Morpurgo thought ‘they must be mad’ to try to make a play from his best-selling novel; nonetheless, the play was a success. In 2011, the film War Horse became a box office success and was met with positive reviews. It was nominated for six Academy Awards including ‘Best Picture’, two Golden Globe Awards and five BAFTAs.

In my opinion, this film is one of the best films directed by Steven Spielberg with Hook and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial because the story is so stirring and the visual effects are very realistic. A very good story…

You can see the trailer here for more details on this film:

Jumanji

Jumanji is a fantasy children’s picture book written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, an American author, and published in 1981. Everyone knows the story thanks to the famous film directed by Joe Johnston in 1995, with the most excellent Robin Williams.

‘Jumanji’ is a Zulu word meaning ‘many effects’. In the original story, Judy and Peter Shepherd are two children who go in a park, while their parents are out for the evening, because they find deeply boring. In this park, they find a game which seems to be abandoned and which called Jumanji. So, they take the game home. In this one, they discover a warning message: ‘Do not begin unless you intend to finish’ . The most unlikely events will occur…

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Bonnie Hunt, Robin Williams and Kirsten Dunst in Jumanji (J. Johnston, 1995)

The famous film is slightly different: at the beginning, the game ensnared Alan Parrish in the jungle of Jumanji many years while he and Sarah Whittle were playing in 1969. Twenty-six years later, Peter and Judy (Kirsten Dunst), who are orphans in this adaptation, settle, with their aunt, in the Parrish’s former house and find the game in the attic. They manage to take out Alan (Robin Williams) but they must find Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) to finish the game because Peter and Judy have continued the part of 1969.

This film is dazzling for its special effects. But it is excellent thanks to Robin Williams’ performance. It was a great actor, funny and touching at the same time. He was an eternal child, notably in this film, but also in life. He was and will always be my favourite American actor…

You can see the trailer here for more details on this film:

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a novella written by Truman Capote and published in 1958. There is an adaptation of this book, directed by Black Edwards in 1961. In this film, we can see the wonderful Audrey Hepburn in one of the best roles that she has never had.

The novella is about a writer’s friendship with a young woman called Holly Golightly in New York, during World War II. A lot of men pay Holly for sexual favours. This woman drinks and takes drugs too. Her life is completely disorganized, but the writer is fascinated by her. She secretly dreams about a luxurious life, between jewels from Tiffany’s. Holly and the writer are neighbours but they don’t have a love affair together. He wants to protect her from herself and the outside world. At the end of the story, Holly disappears from his life to escape the police after being arrested as an accomplice in a drug conspiracy.

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George Peppard and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (B. Edwards, 1961)

The film isn’t radically different but two main components were modified : the story is set during the 1960s and Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) and Paul Varjak (George Peppard), nicknamed ‘Fred’ by Holly for his resemblance to her brother, fall in love at the end of the story… So romantic it is!

This is one of my favourite films, backed up by Audrey Hepburn‘s charm and by the captivating theme ‘Moon River’ created by Henry Mancini

In 2012, the film was deemed ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’ by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

You can see the trailer for more details on this film:

 

The Bridges of Madison County

The Bridges of Madison County is a novel written by Robert James Waller and published in 1992. The novel is one of the best-selling books of the 20th century.

In 1965, Francesca Johnson is an Italian-American housewife who lives in Iowa. Her husband and her children leave their home for a week. A National Geographic photographer, Robert Kincaid, arrives to photograph the covered bridges in the area. He is lost and met Francesca in her house. Slowly, a love affair takes place between the two characters, a dangerous liaison.Passion’ is the key word of this story but this love affair seems to be impossible.

With an international success, an adaptation of this novel was directed by Clint Eastwood in 1995 where we find him and the marvellous Meryl Streep. This film is one of my great favourites for many reasons : the story is purely wonderful but very sad too. In my opinion, Meryl Streep is the best actress of the world because she’s so charming and captivating in this film, but in Out of Africa directed by Sydney Pollack in 1985 or in August: Osage County directed by John Wells in 2013 too (it’s just two examples because the list is very long!) . All the poetry of the film resides in the beautiful sets and in the wonderful photography. Both actors complement each other and they lead the audience from beginning to end. This is a very great film.

Jane Austen and the BBC

Jane Austen is always a literary phenomenon and her work cannot be overlooked thanks to the themes she talks about in her novels (criticism of the 19th century english society) .

However, she also found spectators at television thanks to very close adaptations of her novels by the BBC. We can note: Pride and Prejudice in 1995 which played a big role in Colin Firth‘s career, Emma in 1996 with Kate Beckinsale, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park and Persuasion in 2007, and Sense and Sensibility in 2008.

The creation of these adaptations relaunched the interest for Austen’s novels in United Kingdom like in other countries. A new form of tourism was created thanks to them: the Austenian tourism, which consists in visiting locations to follow in heroes’ footsteps.

Andrew Davis is the scriptwriter who adapted the largest number of novels for the BBC.

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Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle in Pride and Prejudice (Simon Langton, 1995)

Much Ado About Nothing by Josh Whedon

Much Ado About Nothing is an American film directed by Josh Whedon in 2012. It’s a new adaptation of the play written by William Shakespeare after Kenneth Brannagh in 1993. In Messina, Leonato, the Governor, learns that Don Pedro intends to visit his house. The Duke’s party arrives with Count Claudio, who had before the war been attracted by Leonato’s only daughter, Hero. Another of the visitors is Benedick, a bachelor, who enjoys speaking his mind in witty argument with Hero’s cousin and companion, the Lady Beatrice.

In this adaptation, the plot is the same but many modern elements are added. It’s a black and white film but there are, from time to time, a few strokes of colour. If the trailer is very rythmic, the film is a little tedious in parts because there are many cues, and sometimes any movement. However, all the cast is excellent, the music is just wonderful, and the situations are very interesting.

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies is an English novel written by William Golding in 1954. This story tells the fragility of the civilization by staging children left to themselves after the crash of a plane. All adults died. Very soon, social models that they try to apply shatter. So, violence and brutality become the watchwords.

It’s a novel very harsh and very bloody but this story is often studied like a children’s book. There is an adaptation of this novel, directed by Peter Brook in 1963. This adaptation is very touching and very faithful: it’s a beautiful and highly disturbing film version. The director won the Golden Palm at the Cannes International Film Festival in 1963…

Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks is an American-Australian-British film directed by John Lee Hancock in 2013. This story tells the meeting between P. L. Travers (Emma Thompson), a famous British author, and Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), business magnate and well-known American producer. He has been courting Travers for twenty years, seeking to acquire the film rights to her Mary Poppins stories. But the two characters are in perpetual disagreement because the author won’t discover a stupid animated film ridiculing her heroine. Suddenly, we learn that Mary Poppins is closely linked with P. L. Travers‘ youth.

It’s very interesting for the audience to learn the story of this famous film (with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke) and the origins of Mary. We discover the figure of each famous character and we dream in the wings of Walt Disney Productions, during the flashbacks, etc. I was surprised when I saw Tom Hanks (his transformation is incredible…) . All the cast is excellent, particularly Emma Thompson who is a great actress.

The film directed by Robert Stevenson received 5 Oscars, including Best Actress.

Most of films produced by Walt Disney were inspired by existing novels or short stories belonging to Anglo-Saxon literature, like One Hundred and One Dalmatians (Dodie Smith), Peter Pan (J. M. Barrie), The Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling) or Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll) for example.

Matilda, Charlie, James and Mr. Fox…

These characters are the heroes of famous novels written by an exceptional writer, Roald Dahl. For many years, everyone can dream with these incredible situations and his picturesque characters like Matilda Wormwood, James Henry Trotter or Charlie Bucket and Willy Wonka. Born in September 1916, he was officer in the Royal Air Force during World War II before becoming a best-selling author. Many novels was illustrated by Quentin Blake, a well-known cartoonist who worked for Dr. Seuss’ novels too.

Roal Dahl wrote novels for children and adult, but also a few short stories, poems and screenplays, especially for the James Bond film like You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which were adaptations of novels by Ian Flemming. Over the years, he became « one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th century » . He died in November 1990.

Today, Roald Dahl is always model and his stories continue to be adapted. Lately, Wes Anderson directed in 2009 the adaptation of Fantastic Mr. Fox, an other success of the writer…

Of Mice and Men : the novel and its adaptation

Of Mice and Men is a novel written by John Steinbeck and published in 1937. In this story, we encounter two characters: George and Lennie, his simple-minded friend. They will try somehow to be accepted to work in a ranch during the Great Depression. Lennie is an imposing character and has a passion for smooth things. But his strength harm him all the time. George is Lennie’s guardian angel because he promised to take care of him to Lennie’s aunt. So, they navigate both.

There are many adaptations of this work of art but the film directed by Gary Sinise with him and John Malkovich is really exceptional because the director incorporates all the elements of the original story and he allows to integrate George and Lennie’s adventure in a flash-back. If you want to know why, you must read or watch this story…

Dorian Gray

The film Dorian Gray is an adaptation of the eponymous novel written by Oscar Wilde, published in 1891. Directed by Oliver Parker in 2009, the film tells the story of a naive and young Englishman whose image is captured in an enchanted painting that keeps him from aging. If he commits a sin, his face in the picture changes and loses his beauty. For this adaptation, Ben Barnes as Dorian Gray and Colin Firth as Lord Henry Wotton, imperious and decadent dandy. Extremely witty, he is seen as a critique of Victorian culture at the end of the century, espousing a view of indulgent hedonism.

I don’t read the original novel, so I can’t establish a comparison between the film and the Gothic novel of Oscar Wilde. In my opinion, I’m not sure if this adaptation is the best but I liked so much the story, the atmosphere emitted, the soundtracks and the splendid shots of the director. The story is very interesting and pleasant.

 The Picture of Dorian Gray remind me the novel of Honoré de Balzac The Magic Skin (La Peau de Chagrin) because in the two novels, we find the notion of physical decadence. Although, the rapprochement is often effected.

Movie Trailer : 

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a novella written by Robert L. Stevenson and published in 1886. This story relate an investigation directed by a london lawyer, Gabriel Utterson, on Edward Hyde. He suspects him of blackmailing his old friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, but the truth is worse than he could have imagined.

This novel belongs to Gothic literature. I appreciated this story because on the one hand, I like to be frightened by different elements (weird atmosphere, strange events, …) . Moreover, the theme of duality reinforces the fear, especially during the transformation scene, when Dr. Jekyll wants to separate the good side and the evil side. On the other hand, I enjoyed this story because I like very much Robert L. Stevenson. He was a great author and his novel, Treasure Island is a classical in literature.

 

In Gothic literature, I am also interested in The Picture of Dorian Gray written by Oscar Wilde because I would be explore an another environment but I always want to be frightened and surprised by literary genre.

First published on November 30th,2013

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a novella written by Robert L. Stevenson and published in 1886. This story relate an investigation directed by a london lawyer, Gabriel Utterson, on Edward Hyde. He suspects him of blackmailing his old friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, but the truth is worse than he could have imagined.

This novel belongs to Gothic literature. I appreciated this story because on the one hand, I like to be frightened by different elements (weird atmosphere, strange events, …) . Moreover, the theme of duality reinforces the fear, especially during the transformation scene, when Dr. Jekyll wants to separate the good side and the evil side. On the other hand, I enjoyed this story because I like very much Robert L. Stevenson. He was a great author and his novel, Treasure Island is a classical in literature.

In Gothic literature, I am also interested in The Picture of Dorian Gray written by Oscar Wilde because I would be explore an another environment but I always want to be frightened and surprised by literary genre.