Film and Writing (M.A)
Focus in Film: Adaptation from Literature, Horror Filmmaking Styles and Auteur Cinema
The Importance of Reading “Swann’s Way” by Marcel Proust
Born in the July of 1871 in France, Marcel Proust would go on to write what is considered to be one of the longest novels ever accomplished in human history. Sometimes called either “A Remembrance of Things Past” or more commonly, “In Search of Lost Time” - this book starts off with the first and possibly most famous volume - “Swann’s Way”. “Swann’s Way” is about the narrator’s memory of a man of elegance and style, a Jewish man named Charles Swann who would bring the family apricots in a basket and eventually began speaking to the narrator of a writer that he knew and the young narrator was obsessed with the idea of. But before this, we get various memories of a family who owns a home in Combray and how Charles Swann initially became a hinderance in the narrator’s life. An exercise in the futility of familial relations and a display of how one person can hinder another’s life and upbringing. This metaphorical flower of a narrator can never actually flower since Charles Swann is being entertained downstairs whilst the child narrator is therefore being deprived of his mother’s goodnight kiss and such. There is a massive importance to reading this novel today, especially if you wanted to start to understand how French Literature slowly made its way from Victor Hugo’s older and more revolutionary one into this newer one in which decadence was a slowly dying trade and people were afraid of whenever the next war may break out. The emotional maturity of this novel never ceases to amaze and enlighten me as to exactly how many emotions are actually possible for one human being.
Book Review: "You Let Me In" by Camilla Bruce
If you know me then you also know that I absolutely adore folk horror with all of my heart and more. Not just the Faustian Pact we see in the play by Christopher Marlowe and Goethe’s iconic masterpiece. But also more modern books such as: “Bellman and Black” by Diane Setterfield, “A Cosmology of Monsters” by Shaun Hamill, the modern masterpiece “Tyll” by Daniel Kehlmann and there are many more. Folk horror, I am proud to say, is making a very special comeback amongst the film scene with the films of Ari Aster becoming ever more popular and ever more folkloric, and I can only hope that this spills over into literature and we get a flood of folk horror because I will have so much more to read. Just imagine me as an anime character with those big massive heart eyes and that is pretty much what I will look like. But now you’re going to probably ask: what is folk horror? Folk horror is simple. It takes folkloric archetypes such as fairies, magic beings, faustian pacts, etc. and works them into the real world, creating a disturbing mix between the real and unreal. This is exactly what “You Let Me In” by Camilla Bruce does as well. And it does it so well that I almost put the book back down it was that repulsive.
Book Review: "Palace of the Drowned" by Christine Mangan
When it comes to literature about or set in Italy, there are many that I have read. There is a beautiful book about the Medici by Christopher Hibbert - quite a prolific writer of some of the most incredible cities and times in the world including the French Revolution. There is also an amazing book by the late and legendary author Jan Morris entitled “Venice”. It has to be the greatest book I have ever read about the city and in the top five I have ever read about or set in Italy - it is a vibrant, historical and near-perfect guide to the history and culture of such an exquisite place. There are a number of others including obviously “Innocence” by Penelope Fitzgerald, “Hannibal” by Thomas Harris and also the strange and horrific “Monster of Florence” which is a nonfiction novel by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi - based on the true story of a serial killer that terrorised Florence some time ago.
Book Review: "If We Were Villains" by M.L Rio
Shakespeare has always been a great inspiration to me. I have numerous posters of him on my bedroom walls and I own many many books and secondary sources on Shakespeare. Studying him for years dating from the age of twelve all the way through to being twenty-three then continuing my studies into Shakespeare on my own has been one hell of a ride. To this day, re-reading “Richard II” and “Richard III” (two of my favourite plays), I have been discovering new things after more than ten years of research. One thing I always love is when a writer entwines the principles, themes, words and characters of Shakespeare with their own work. It shows not only an appreciation and an understanding, but I love reading about how the writer has interpreted the text and obviously, I absolutely adored this one by ML Rio.
A Filmmaker's Review: "The Colour of Pomegranates" (1969)
When we talk about international film, people normally assume we are talking about films made outside of Hollywood and that, in fact is true. But others normally assume also that films made outside of Hollywood are not as good as the films made inside Hollywood and that is not only not true, but most of the films made internationally are some that Hollywood could not hold a candle to. One of these said movies that Hollywood cannot come close to in terms of imagination and artistic ability is “The Colour of Pomegranates” (1969). A 1969 Soviet Union film which has a primary language of Armenian means that this film holds a lot of history, culture and background to why the poetic and artistic pronunciations of the film would have caused it to be banned. Hollywood does not really have that problem unless the film outright goes against certain beliefs of stricter countries such as Korea, China and Israel. This film was in fact, banned by sections of the Soviet Union and so, we can see that there is some viewing pleasure there in knowing that it presents a fairly different light on to biographical film.
The Importance of Reading "The Gulag Archipelago”
When it comes to reading in the 20th century, many people think of the main few authors: Virginia Woolf, F. Scott Fitzgerald and probably Nabokov and Kerouac if we are being a little bit out there. But very rarely do I hear anybody speak of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s famed literary experimental biography, part investigative journalism and part historical consciousness narrative - “The Gulag Archipelago”. In our modern times, it is probably one of the most important texts if we wanted to learn about the failings of a state and government towards its people, and in hindsight we can all say ‘well, they could have done A, B and C differently…’ but Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn gives us a whole new view on this. Instead of hindsight of what could have been done differently, Solzhenitsyn tells us, ‘this is what happened, this is why it happened…’ complete with outcomes in the midst which may have been considered to our own audience to be counterproductive to revolution such as: the brainwashing and Stockholm syndrome of the prisoners and the way in which many simply accepted their fate - finally, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn ends on the ‘here is what the history books, films and criticisms of the empire will not tell you…’ thus rendering all of our hindsight opinions pretty much useless when attempted to be used in action.
Book Review: "The Forever Home" by Sue Watson
I have a guilty pleasure for social thrillers. Thrillers in which a couple is undergoing a huge amount of changes and both of them have some sort of sociopathic behaviours going on. It is wonderful to see what the next writer does with this set up because there is always, and I mean always, something new and different to read within the sub-genre. There are all kinds of different elements that have their own standing within these novels too. Elements such as: horror, drama, tragedy, violence, romance, action and even at times there is a bit of comic relief thrown in there to lighten the mood a little. But, there is always a mix - it is never just a thriller. I used to have a friend who judged me harshly for reading this books because I am a literature graduate, I was supposed to read ‘smart books’ and ‘classics’ and not ‘chick flick thrillers’. I called it nonsense and carried on reading them because I enjoy them. It’s nice to get away for a bit into someone else’s world and read about a troubled marriage with so many problems unfolding. It’s like spying on and gossiping about a relationship that doesn’t exist. Sue Watson’s “Forever Home” brings something incredibly exciting to the genre - a couple that works on the realms of television who are now experiencing many problems behind the scenes, and the secrets are beginning to seep out.
Book Review: "Bellman and Black" by Diane Setterfield
The Modern Gothic is a difficult genre to write in seeing as it is one of the most written genres of the 20th and 21st centuries. Novels by Shirley Jackson and Stephen King have often been cited as the greats of their time. Daphne Du Maurier, Anne Rice and Susan Hill are the women who took it over in the mid-century most notably considering Du Maurier’s friendship with Sir Alfred Hitchcock by which her books “Rebecca”, “The Birds” and “Jamaica Inn” were made into films. But, as women took over the modern gothic, we arrive back to one of the greatest writers of all time - Shirley Jackson. The atmospheric gothic being set up by her adept method at portraying psychological horror, her method has been copied by many authors throughout our own time. One of these authors who uses Shirley Jackson’s methods successfully is Diane Setterfield. In her book “Bellman and Black”, she blends together the past and present in this modern gothic to present her reader with a clashing of time periods. The old representing the terrifying past from which the protagonist tries to run away from and the new in which they are constantly paranoid that the past will come back for them. A lot like the predicament Nellie finds herself in within “The Haunting of Hill House”, this book “Bellman and Black” has a protagonist on the verge of a nervous breakdown because of some moves that may prove fatal.