Monday, April 14, 2008

A Room with a View

I hate to sound like one of the puritan townspeople from The Scarlet Letter, but after watching Masterpiece’s new adaptation of E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View last night, I have to cry foul. How dare they desecrate the purity of the novel? How dare they thwart tradition by practically rewriting the book?

Though I am not a complete purist when it comes to literary adaptations, I do feel strongly about maintaining the original artist’s integrity. I am particularly disappointed that Andrew Davies—the screenwriter who adapted the seminal Pride and Prejudice—is responsible for this travesty.

The film does cover the major plot points of Room. Lucy Honeychurch and her cousin Charlotte do go to Italy. They do meet the Emersons. Lucy does become engaged to Cecil Vyse. There is a naked bathing scene.

But placing events in the correct order is not enough to make an enjoyable film. This adaptation loses the book and characters’ personality. The novel has a lighthearted, often playful, tone to it, but the film feels heavy. In the book, George Emerson is burdened by the weight of the world and often broods. In contrast, the film’s George comes across as a complete dimwit, leaving the viewer puzzled at Lucy’s attraction to him.

The greatest crime, though, is the way the film couches Forster’s A Room with a View in a post-Great War subplot. Davies takes extreme liberties with the book, envisioning what happens to Lucy and George during the war. I am absolutely baffled by this addition. Could Davies truly have the hubris to believe he knows better than Forster himself?


notaconnoisseur said...

It is refreshing to know that Emerson is a likeable character in the novel. I was mystified by Lucy's attraction to him while watching the film.

Wanna-Be Lit said...

Now I must watch this. I better do the ironing tonight so I have an excuse to watch a movie.