The story behind the film

Storytelling has always been linked to the ability to rework and rewrite, leading to moments of rebirth. Cinema is no exception.

A story unfolds and is transformed into a cinematic narrative whether from world events (and how those events are told) or from personal reflections that later emerge. Existing stories in different mediums, whether as a book, a work of art, or a video game, take on another life on the cinematic screen. Even a musical composition can be transformed.

However, let’s concentrate on literature and its relation to cinema. Again this year, several of the programme’s films derive from books: at times the book itself is more well-known than the film, at other times the opposite; the question remains the same, which is better, the book or the film?

In the following sections of the festival we find:


Recovered and Restored

Highlights: A particularly dense section of the festival, full of masterpieces and cult films restored to their original splendor, so famous that they sometimes hide interesting backstories… such as the literary works to which they are indebted, equally famous or often hardly known, yet nevertheless worthy of  attention.
For example, did you know that Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) has a novel behind it? Written by Peter Benchley of the same name (1974), quickly becoming a bestseller with over twenty million copies sold worldwide. What about Hellraiser by director Clive Barker (1987), based on the book The Hellbound Heart (1986) by the same Barker? Or Max Frisch’s anti-rationalist novel Homo Faber (1957), which we find at the festival in Voyager directed by Viktor Schlöndorff (1991)? Not to mention classic authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson, with his short story The Body Snatcher, later inspiring dark film adaptations of the same name such as by Robert Wise (1945).

In the same section:
Julien Duvivier’s Pépé le Moko (1937), based on the novel of the same name by Jacques Krauss.
John Ford’s The Searchers (1956), from the novel of the same name by Alan Le May.
Johnny Got His Gun, directorial debut of Dalton Trumbo at the age of 66 in 1971, from his novel of the same name from 30 years prior.
Harry Kümel’s Malpertuis (1971), based on the novel by Jean Ray.
Deliverance by John Boorman (1972), based on the novel by James Dickey (1970).
Phase IV by Saul Bass (1974), based on Empire of the Ants, the short story by H.G. Wells.


One Hundred Years Ago: 1924

Highlights: Gabriellino D’Annunzio and Georg Jacoby’s Quo vadis? (1924), based on the novel of the same name by Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz (1895), who achieved international fame and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1905 thanks to this work.

In the same section:
The Paul Street Boys (A Pál utcai fiúk), a Hungarian children’s novel written by Ferenc Molnár, on which Béla Balogh based his film.
Usagi to Kame by Sanae Yamamoto is based on Aesop’s fable.
The Saga of Gosta Berling by Mauritz Stiller comes from a novel by Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf (1891).


Gustaf Molander, the Actresses’ Director

Highlights: Molander’s diptych consisting of Ingmarsarvet (1925) and Till Österland (1926), which we can consider the epilogue of the golden age of Swedish silent film, are both derived from famous literary works (the first and second novels of Selma Lagerlöf’s Jerusalem saga).


Journeys into Night: The World of Anatole Litvak

Highlights: among the credited writers in this section, the most famous is Joseph Kessel (author of the novel Belle de jour, from which Buñuel was inspired for his cult movie starring Catherine Deneuve): Litvak drew inspiration from one his texts to present L’Èquipage (1935), which will be shown during the festival.

In the same section:
City for Conquest (1940) and The Snake Pit (1948) from novels by Aben Kandel and Mary Jane Ward, respectively.


Marlene Dietrich

Highlights: the cult films we offer in the section dedicated to Dietrich have respectable literary provenances. Josef von Sternberg’s seductive The Blue Angel (1930) is indebted to the novel titled Professor Unrat (1905) by German writer Heinrich Mann, brother of the more famous Thomas.
Witness for the Prosecution (1957) by Billy Wilder, nominated for six Oscars and inspired by Agatha Christie’s play (1953), itself an adaptation of a short story by the writer.
Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil (1958) is loosely based on the novel Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson, one of the pseudonyms of the American crime writer couple Robert Wade and H. William Miller, an artistic partnership that together published 33 novels.

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