Re: RARA-AVIS: Re:The Long Goodbye

Date: 17 Feb 2007

Patrick wrote:

"I was unaware of the changes in the script. I think it's a different thing when you buy a writer's script and make changes that will direct on film more effectively, . . ."

How do you define "direct on film more effectively"? The changes were narrative, involving who shot whom, and could have been directed just effectively, been just as cinematic.

Polanski was pretty clearly presenting a world view of his own, one that was contrary to Towne's, just as Altman is accused of altering Chandler's. It's just ignorance of Towne's original ending that makes it different from the audience's perspective -- for the writer and director, the situation was the same.

On a side note, I had a writing professor who believed Chinatown as proof positive that an artist should not deal wih personal trauma too soon in his or her art, that Chinatown is deeply flawed because Polanski was so heavyhanded in dealing with his wife's murder. While I got his point, I never figured out how it applied to Chinatown, which is as perfect a movie as I've seen.

Though I have been defending Long Goodbye, I don't think it's anywhere near as good a movie as Chinatown, which is my favorite movie of all time. And it's Polanski's rewrite that makes it great in my mind. If Polanski had shot Towne's screenplay straight, it probably still would have been very good, but not great. Compare Chinatown to Tequila Sunrise or The Two Jakes if you want a glimpse of the difference of perspective between Polanski and Towne.

". . . than when you buy the rights to a popular story already on the public radar and change it around to suit whatever you're trying to say. These are two different types of creative license. One can get away with the former more easily than the latter."

So art is what you can get away with and how well you can hide your source material from comparison?


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