Adventures In Motion Pictures Essay Research Paper

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Adventures In Motion Pictures Essay, Research Paper Adventures in motion picturesThe writer of prose fiction, when he first turns his hand to screenwriting, often does so with a condescending air. Surely this can’t be so very difficult, he thinks; all that’s required is to come up with the bare bones of a story. So he goes to work anticipating a quick job with easy money at the end of it, and possibly a bit of glory. He is soon disabused of these prideful assumptions. It becomes apparent that what he has at his disposal is merely an ordered succession of dramatic pictures. With these he must do the work he once did with all the infinite resources of the English language at his back. My own adventure in the screen trade had been in progress for some years before I

attempted to turn my novel, Spider, into a script. I had been to Hollywood a number of times. My adaptation of my first novel had been produced in Britain. I understood just how difficult it was to write a film, particularly a film in which the narrative is driven as much by psychic events as by external incidents. Stories with any depth of psychological complexity tend to throw up a problem of imagery – how to find the visual correlative of some complicated interior event, an act of misperception, say, with an associated flash of paranoia, concealed from the world but integrated into a developing pattern of skewed logic. I had attempted in my one produced script to pull this off with a neurotically repressed character called Sir Hugo, who may have murdered his prospective

son-in-law in a fit of sexual panic, and then blamed it on the butler. The film was called The Grotesque, with Alan Bates playing the cantankerous Sir Hugo, and Sting the predatory butler, Fledge. It bore in its essentials a strong resemblance to Joseph Losey’s The Servant, although I wasn’t consciously aware of the influence until later. I had tried to present a complicated idea I had come across in Freud, one that linked paranoia to homosexuality. A man is attracted to another man but out of shame is unable to admit it to himself. So he reverses the current: instead of saying, I love him, he says, I hate him. But this too is unacceptable. So he reverses the current again: he says, not, I hate him, but rather, he hates me! He then finds “evidence” of such hatred in the

other man’s behaviour. In just such devious movements of inversion and reversal, says Freud, does the unconscious mind operate. A secondary dynamic involves Sir Hugo’s wife, played in the movie by Theresa Russell. The confused man, unable to say of the object of desire, I love him, says, instead, she loves him! And so he compounds his paranoia with morbid jealousy. All this I had tried to work into the screenplay; the results had been disappointing. To try again with Spider seemed pure folly. The difficulty lay in the fact that Spider, the character, was not, like Sir Hugo, merely neurotic; he was floridly psychotic – a schizophrenic man spiralling out of control after being prematurely discharged from a top-security mental hospital. His thinking, to put it mildly, is

bizarre, and, at least in the novel, Spider’s thinking is all we have – there is no way out of Spider’s mind other than death. He is unable to edit reality, nor can he see that the edifice of delusion he has constructed to account for his traumatised childhood (a very shaky structure, upon which he has established his equally shaky identity) is liable at any moment to collapse. So this strange, fragile creature wanders the desolate places of the East End of London while his faltering mind attempts with growing desperation to cling to a few last shreds of coherence. Again, it’s hardly the stuff of cinema. Little happens in the present, and what seems to have happened in the past is actually a gross distortion. Cinematic imagery is loaded with authority: you see an event