Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005395, Fri, 14 Jul 2000 12:36:38 -0700

Re: A Pale Fire Movie Scenario? (fwd)
From: TomPerdue@aol.com

As an, ahem, professional movie critic I'd like to say two things: no
literary work is ever ruined by its movie adaptation (however awful) as long
as that literary work is still available on bookshelves.

Also: the very best cinematic literary adaptations are those that honor the
spirit of the original work while establishing their own worth, their own
identity, as it were. I think a terrific example of this is Raul Ruiz's
recent adaptation of Proust, Time Regained. Previous cinematic tacklings of
Proust basically resulted in very high-toned soap operas; the phantasmagoric
and philosophical aspects of A La Recherche were pretty much ignored, because
the filmmakers lacked the imagination to render them in cinematic terms. Ruiz
is a brilliant cinematic thinker and what he does in this picture is try to
come up with cinematic correlatives to Proust's brilliant verbal ruminations.
And he succeeds, beautifully, I think.

Nabokov understood the differences between the word and the image and a lot
of the fun of his screenplay for Lolita is how he envisions cinematic parody
taking the place of the literary parodies he performs so beautifully in the
novel. Costuming Humbert as Poe, concocting his own Hitchcock-ish cameo. Ruiz
shows a lot of this spirit with Time Regained. And then there's Cronenberg's
adaptation of Crash, which I also find exemplary.

In any case, it's hardly sacrilige to imagine a filmic Pale Fire. But why not
take the reimagining further? Make Shade a movie director, and Kinbote the
madman who's absconded with, and is furiously editing, the raw footage? You
see what I'm getting at?