Why on earth was this book made/not made into a film?/Warum zur Hölle wurde dieses Buch (nicht) verfilmt?

I am merging two topics into one here, as I have no good ideas. I assume the meme was written by a person who prefers film to books, or would rather see books in film form. So many questions on film!

All that occurs to me is: some years ago I missed Chaucer – Canterbury Tales – in Middle English, I believe, on TV. I never succeeded in seeing or finding it. Even better would be Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which is much harder to understand (not so much French). We did lots of Chaucer at school and university, and Sir Gawain only at university. I never did any Old English, so have a gap for Beowulf, although I have done some Old Norse (Bandamanna Saga).

The subsidiary English course had just been remodelled when I went to King’s in 1965, and one classmate and I turned up for medieval studies in the English department, where a lecturer had no idea what to do, but then asked us to translate orally the most vulgar part of the Pardoner’s Tale into modern English. This was slightly before the women’s movement took off. But we were well aware that for a male lecturer to ask two new women students to translate vulgarities was offensive. I think I volunteered – in any case, the text was familiar – maybe he thought it wasn’t. At all events, the old man wandering the earth and wanting to die, being mocked by young men (recalling current beatings in tube stations), would have been the obvious choice of text, not this:

“Nay, nay,” quod he, “thanne have I Cristes curs!
Lat be,” quod he, “it shal nat be, so theech,
Thou woldest make me kisse thyn olde breech,
And swere it were a relyk of a seint,
Though it were with thy fundement depeint.
But by the croys which that Seint Eleyne fond,
I wolde I hadde thy coillons in myn hond
In stide of relikes or of seintuarie.
Lat kutte hem of, I wol thee helpe hem carie;
They shul be shryned in an hogges toord.”

So much for women and university.

Anyway, that doesn’t answer these two questions except to suggest that another film of Chaucer might be made.

As for films one regrets, I recently watched Andrew Davies’ Doctor Zhivago, and although the cast seemed promising, it lacked the drive and of course the music of the David Lean version. It was difficult to see why Zhivago would prefer Keira Knightley to Alexandra Maria Lara (not to knock Geraldine Chaplin, but the contrast was better there while leaving both women characters uncriticized). I still haven’t read the novel, so can’t comment on the omission of the Rita Tushingham and Alec Guinness characters (the daughter and the Communist half-brother).

Actually, there are a lot of sites on the internet where people answer these two questions. Clicking around, I remembered that Smilla’s Sense of Snow was a dreadful film if you had read the book. I’ve forgotten most of the details now, but I think for a start the main character was not supposed to be attractive in any conventional sense.

2 thoughts on “Why on earth was this book made/not made into a film?/Warum zur Hölle wurde dieses Buch (nicht) verfilmt?

  1. They shul be shryned in an hogges toord?

    What on earth did “they” do to deserve that (if it’s what it sounds like it is)?

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