oracne - Victoria Janssen (oracne) wrote,
oracne - Victoria Janssen

Wimsey on DVD: Gaudy Night

I woke up this morning with a jolt and realized a dinner date for last night had totally slipped my mind. And I was the one who set it up. Talk about stupidity! I really, really hate when I do things like that. I've groveled already.

I think my brain was just too full, with work and preparing to go to NY tomorrow and all the stuff I need to do before rehearsal tonight. And some personal family stuff which I haven't shared with anyone yet, and am still processing just for me. And when I finally got home from work, my DVDs of the BBC Peter Wimsey series were waiting for me, so while I totally forgot my dinner I was able to watch "Gaudy Night."

This is the most recent Wimsey series, so far as I know (shown in America on PBS' "Mystery"), starring Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter. It includes STRONG POISON, HAVE HIS CARCASE, and GAUDY NIGHT. (I still need to see if I can get the Ian Carmichael Winsey series on DVD.)

I saw this when it aired in the US, and not since. I remember being bitterly disappointed with the adaptation of GAUDY NIGHT, even more so because the bits that did make it into the screenplay were performed so exquisitely by the actors. But the bits that didn't just about make me scream still, and did make me pull the book off the shelf and read them before I could go to sleep. (No, I didn't have to search for them within the novel...I just went from one to the next, like clockwork...sigh.) I will never understand why anyone could think GAUDY NIGHT could be adapted in three episodes, when it is the richest novel of the whole series.

The screenplay uses whole chunks of verbatim dialogue from the novel, yet missing are most of my favorite things. Looking at it last night, I could see the romance was sacrificed in favor of the mystery; there was method in their madness; but the little bits of romance they left in were just that much more lonely.

The dog collar was taken out, and the ivory chessmen. Viscount St. George and Reggie Pomfret make no appearance. Harriet spends no time working on Miss Lydgate's book, so far as I could tell. Jukes is gone completely, though Peter and Padgett's war stories are replaced by a tiny scene between Padgett and Bunter. The dog collar was taken out, and the ivory chessmen. The dog collar was taken out, and the ivory chessmen. The dog collar was taken out, and the ivory chessmen. [ahem]

There is no Peter sleeping in the punt!!! [ahem, again] That, I could see them cutting, because all of the interesting stuff there is inside Harriet's head. That whole scene in the punt, in which Harriet realizes for good and all that she is physically interested in Peter, is made for print, not for screen. In the novel, it's leisurely and completely satisfying; we are allowed to linger on things like the hair at the nape of his neck and his ear, which in a camera's eye would have been strange and off-putting close-ups. To give the Beeb credit, the camera lingers on Peter reviewing Harriet's evidence book, and then her watching him, and then Peter looking up and their eyes meeting for a moment of realization. It's gone in seconds. The actors manage to convey the meaning, I think. But it's not the same.

Thinking more on it, I think there's no way to make a perfect movie of GAUDY NIGHT. It's just too beautiful as a novel. There's too much there, internally and otherwise. So I'm waiting for the virtual reality sensaround version.
Tags: books, dvd, sayers

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