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"...only ragged odds and ends of my script had been used..."
June 20, 2014 1:44 PM   Subscribe


 
I can hardly wait to read this (Vice is, naturally, blocked at work). In an interview that's probably quoted in this article, Nabokov described his immense efforts to adapt his unadaptable novel and his ambivalent anticipation of Kubrick's finished film: "Turning one's novel into a movie script is rather like making a series of sketches for a painting that has long ago been finished and framed. I composed new scenes and speeches in an effort to safeguard a Lolita acceptable to me. I knew that if I did not write the script somebody else would, and I also knew that at best the end product in such cases is less of a blend than a collision of interpretations. I have not yet seen the picture. It may turn out to be a lovely morning mist as perceived through mosquito netting, or it may turn out to be the swerves of a scenic drive as felt by the horizontal passenger of an ambulance." Unfortunately, his experience of watching the movie turned out to be closer to the latter prediction.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:55 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


The film is not the novel but it is a fun film anyway because the story is good. Same goes for Moby Dick. Great writing style does not work in film but a good story sometimes can stand on its own.
posted by Postroad at 3:55 PM on June 20


I will never understand why Hollywood tries so hard to adapt extremely internal and cerebral novels into films.

Great novels are about things that are happening inside someone's head.

Great films are about actions that people take.

You can adapt the former so that it becomes the latter, but the idea that this makes the two works of art congruent is laughable.

I really feel for great novelists hired by Hollywood to turn their quiet, cerebral character studies into profitable films.

I mean, at least have the grace to hand the adaptation off to someone who can see the material through fresh eyes, as a garment to be cut down. "Kill your darlings" is a saying, but I don't think they mean it that literally.
posted by Sara C. at 4:51 PM on June 20


There is no way that (picnic,lightning) can be well adapted, or, I think, usefully expanded upon. That's basically a perfect little bit of evocative and compact writing.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:13 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


Doktor Zed: Unfortunately, his experience of watching the movie turned out to be closer to the latter prediction.

Actually, the article makes it quite clear he considered the movie to be the former.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:39 PM on June 21


Actually, the article makes it quite clear he considered the movie to be the former.

Nabokov was indeed publicly supportive of Kubrick's finished film, calling it "a first-rate film", and quite grateful to Kubrick for the income that the film provided. In private, he was more disappointed. He later revealed in the foreword to his published screenplay of it that his ambivalent first reaction was "a mixture of aggravation, regret, and reluctant pleasure". Some parts of it he found "painful […] such as the collapsing cot or the frills of Miss Lyon's elaborate nightgown". More obliquely but, for the scholarly Volodya, truly harshly, he compared the film version of the story to "an American poet's translation from Rimbaud or Pasternak" (the latter whose work he detested in the original and in English).
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:35 PM on June 22


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