It can be risky to take the lives or artistic works of a well-known figure and put them on film. Between experts and heightened expectations, there's no clean slate to be had, and many areas to be extra-cautious about. But when you can hit the major points without becoming problematic with your artistic license, the results can be not only memorable, but enlightening. I remember seeing Immortal Beloved for the first time and actually beginning to understand the story and emotion behind the composer's work. A scene that might not be true, but fits perfectly with the rising and falling notes of the music, allows the audience to understand the work and broaden appreciation. The same can be said for literature.

Green Cine has a great piece up right now called Writers and Poets on Film. As Simon Augustine describes it: "At their best, films about writers and poets manage to shed fresh light on aspects of an author's personal struggle to get words on the page and to handle the world outside the page while still maintaining a writing career. Or they present the actual literary work itself in a fresh light. At their worst, they descent into a contented form of melodrama or a superficial, convenient representation of an author. But usually they center on the personality of the writer, since this is the most easily dramatized component in the mix."

From there, Augustine goes on to discuss the many faces of literature on film, and examples of each. There is the most detailed account in "Outsize and Tragic Personalities," which discusses the work of artists and darkness with the likes of Charles Bukowski and films like Barfly to Hunter S. Thompson and T.S. Eliot. From there, he delves into two other areas -- "Inspirations," which discusses works like Dead Poets Society and Pandaemonium and "Fictions from Fictions," which details fictional accounts of real figures, such as Shakespeare in Love. It's a great look into the act of bringing text and its creators to screen, and also works as a great reference literary films to check out.
categories Movies, Cinematical