Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005389, Fri, 14 Jul 2000 07:43:30 -0700

Re: A Pale Fire Movie Scenario? (fwd)
From: Walter Miale <wmiale@acbm.qc.ca>

> I can't see how 'Pale Fire' (in my opinion 1 of the top 2 or 3 literary
>masterpieces of the 20th century's 2nd half) could be made into a movie and
>not bastardized, forever ruined for P F readers who plunk down the $7 or $8
>to see it. Yes, I mean ruined. ...

>NO, please, no Harry Potter movies **either**!

I should have known I was getting in over my head. Had I anticipated a
frown from the moderator I would have kept my trap shut.... But if your
eyes can literally take photographs, I'm sure you can make movies as you
read. Shostakovich said that when he heard an orchestra play he would
transcribe it for piano in his mind's ear, and vice versa. OK, from novel
to film is a more radical, complex, and a no doubt essential
transformation, but Shostakovich's excuse is relevant: "It's like
scratching an itch."

But still and all--ruined? Ruined? Would it ruin the novels to see Zero
Mostel as Bloom, Nastasia Kinski as Tess of the d'Urbervilles, or Shelley
Winters as Charlotte Haze? Did Chabrol ruin the experience of Madame
Bovary? Did Godard ruin King Lear? Is the world better off that Visconti
never got to film Proust? True, Pale Fire is so ill adaptable as to make
the enterprise of filming it almost somewhat of an absurdity, a joke
actually, but is the movie really impossible? I would venture to prophesy
that within a century or two a filmmaker of genius will do justice to the
novel, which will by then for better or worse be in the public domain.

Anyway, if Pale Fire--the film-- is an outrageous concept, what about this
novel in the form of a Classic Comic? I for one would love l-u-v to see it.