On the anniversary of Dickens's death on Thursday, The Atlantic examined two very differing accounts of his character, and suggested that we reconcile his dark and light sides by studying him through the prism of A Tale of Two Cities:
"Yet in fictionalizing his story, Dickens placed himself into his characters—his initials, his demons, his childhood sweetheart in Lucie—just as Carton steps into Darnay’s body. Carton’s famous last words could have been spoken by Dickens himself: 'It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.'"
I wasn't kidding about there being a lot of musicals based on A Tale of Two Cities!The cast album for 1969's Two Cities, which had a brief run in London, will be re-released June 24. It had lyrics and music by the father-and-son team of Jerry and Jeff Wayne, and starred Edward Woodward, Kevin Colson, Elizabeth Power, and Nicolette Roeg. The new release will include demos of songs that were cut from the production. Go here for more information, and go here to pre-order.
Of the making of musical adaptations of A Tale of Two Cities, there is no end. Another one, with book, lyrics, and music by Wendy Kesselman, will have a reading at New York's York Theatre Company tomorrow. BroadwayWorld has the details.
This time, it's Harvey Weinstein who's teaming up with the BBC to make a television adaptation of the novel (as a follow-up to their recent War and Peace adaptation). After all the rumors of various adaptations in the past few years, could this finally happen for real? I have to say, having a name as big as Weinstein's involved sounds promising!
When Sarah Rees Brennan writes on the dedication page of her new Young Adult novel, Tell the Wind and Fire, "This work is most respectfully dedicated to C.D.," she's not kidding. Her book is a beautiful and moving tribute to A Tale of Two Cities, as well as a stunning work of fiction in its own right. Like all the best tributes, it lovingly honors the work that it's based on while adding fresh and striking ideas of its own.
As you may recall from the excerpt we ran a couple of months ago, Tell the Wind and Fire is set in a future society divided into Light and Dark. Lucie, the daughter of a Dark father and Light mother, has spent her life torn between the two. (Lucie is one of the few main characters whose name isn't changed from the original, probably because the name "Lucie" means light.) When her father was arrested and tortured, Lucie, with the help of her Aunt Leila, devised a desperate plan to save him.
Because there's another one in the works. (It must be a day ending in "y.") At least it has a very nice pedigree, with Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher, Moneyball, Capote) directing, and the screenplay being written by award-winning playwright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard (Anna Karenina, Parade's End, Shakespeare in Love, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead).
Meanwhile, there's been no word at all of the two adaptations of A Tale of Two Cities that are supposed to be in development. Harumph.
Fitoor, the new Bollywood update of Great Expectations, opened today in limited release. I did not expect it to be playing near here -- even so close to the big city, we don't always get the limited-release movies. But this time, we did! So I caught a screening this afternoon.
This was my first Bollywood movie, so I wasn't sure exactly what to expect. If Fitoor is any indication, they're heavy on gorgeous scenery and costumes, songs and montages, slow-mo, closeups, and long, soulful gazes. The movie is truly beautiful to look at. And the actors, led by Aditya Roy Kapur, Katrina Kaif, and Tabu, all gave good performances. (I've seen some criticism of Kaif's performance online; again, I don't know much about the Bollywood ideal, but I thought she was fine.)
Also, I appreciated the scenes in which the film offered a small, playful tribute to Dickens by having its lead characters quote A Tale of Two Cities to each other!
As for the story, it follows the general trajectory of Dickens's story, but there are some significant changes. Pip, known here as Noor, is now an artist -- something I think they carried over from the Ethan Hawke-Gwyneth Paltrow film, though I never saw that one. Many of the characters have had their rough edges smoothed off: Noor is less snotty; Estella's character, known here as Firdaus, is less icy; Noor's sister is kinder; Begum, the Miss Havisham character, is still rich and eccentric, but she doesn't actually start decaying until Firdaus has grown up and left home. On the other hand, Herbert, or Arif, is much snarkier.