Film Adaptation of The Eye of the Storm by Patrick White: Update

Back in February I posted about Fred Schepisi's film adaptation of Patrick White's novel The Eye of the Storm. At that time the production was in the planning stages and final filming wasn't actually guaranteed.  Now, according to Peter Craven in "The Australian", filming is currently underway with Charlotte Rampling, Judy Davis and Geoffrey Rush in the main roles.

Like all of White's novels The Eye of the Storm is intensely dramatic and like some of them (The Tree of Man, Voss) -- though less obviously -- the medium it calls out for is film because White, like Thomas Hardy long before him, and William Faulkner in the middle distance, had the kind of dramatic imagination that wasn't confined to the bare boards of the theatre. Everyone will know the stories of how Joseph Losey wanted to film Voss, with Maximilian Schell or Max von Sydow as the self-immolating and Schopenhaurian explorer, and how he failed to get the money, so that White was reduced to rages in which he would overturn tables like a latter-day Lear in Sarsaparilla.

In fact, The Eye of the Storm is a kind of King Lear story and White toyed with the idea of calling it "Darker Purpose" in honour of the old dominator who wants to crawl unburdened towards death but who provokes two of his children to throw him out into the storm and, indeed, to seek his death.

The difference is that White, in life, saw himself and his sister as Goneril and Regan, the murdering children, wanting the parent (their mother) dead. And if Elizabeth Hunter has a vision of "the mystery of things", as if she were God's spy, it comes from the calm at the heart of the storm, the eye, not from the maddening grief that finds in the storm its objective correlative.

So The Eye of the Storm is an antipodean King Lear writ gentle and tragicomic, almost Chekhovian, with a female protagonist and "wicked" siblings who might be two halves of a Jungian wholeness (though they are sharply enough characterised in themselves).

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on July 8, 2010 8:45 PM.

Australian Bookcovers #217 - A Book for Kids by C. J. Dennis was the previous entry in this blog.

Reprint: An Australian Novel: Review of "Jonah" by Louis Stone is the next entry in this blog.

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