The Western Canon: Literature and Film Adaptations

harry-potter2-movie-screencaps-com-2858Film director Mario Soffici had successfully adapted works of contemporary literature such as “The way of the flames (1941), based on a novel by Hugo Wast, “Miss Julie” (written in 1946), based on the play by Swedish author August Strindberg, “Strange Case of Man and Beast” (1950), adaptation of the famous novella by Robert Louis Stevenson, among many other classic works of literature which he admired. Sofficci resorted to classic and contemporary Western literature as a basis for their film productions; particularly, he was very interested in genres that bordered the Gothic and certain forms of expressionism.

Rosaura at Ten O’Clock premiered in 1958. Certain sources would indicate that Marco Denevi, the original author of the novel, wrote the script together with Soffici. According to Marco Denevi’s account: “During the process of adaptation of the novel with Soffici, something very unusual happened. I wanted to introduce drastic changes in the original script and the film director objected to it. It seemed to me that the structure of the novel; the succession of different sequences or accounts of the same facts (as in The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins) could turn out to be tedious or irritating for the viewing audience. After all, Rosaura at Ten O’Clock was not Rashomon.”

There were other disagreements. For example, Denevi imagined scenes with rather sordid houses, gloomy mansions, dark fleabag hotels, Rosaura’s looks as if she had come out of a painting by Dante Rosetti and the background music as dreamy, soft, as if played by Frank Sinatra’s ensemble band. However, Soffici’s preferences prevailed over Denevi’s. In any case, the narrator’s participation in the script defined the adaptation, which relied on the strength of writing effective and credible dialogues. One of the strongest sides of the film was the casting of the protagonists, thought Denevi, since it seemed to him that the scripts had been tailor made for them.