his introduction, short and much to the point, Mr Pinter says:
"We decided that the architecture of the film should be based
on two main and contracting principles: one a movement, chiefly
narrative, towards disillusion, and the other, more intermittent,
towards revelation, rising to where time that was lost is found
and fixed for ever in art. " This seems an excellent summary of
one-probably the best approach.
Anthony Powell, The Daily Telegraph,
May 4th 1978
We read The Proust Screenplay with all kinds of
things in our mind: Proust, Pinter's reading of Proust; the problem
of abridgment, the problem of dramatization, the problem of visualization;
the film which might have been made from this script; the script
itself as a literary work, words on the page. In permitting and
controlling the interplay of these things Pinter has created a
small masterpiece of wit and understanding.
Michael Wood, Times Literary Supplement,
June 2nd 1978
Throughout the screenplay a complex of time planes
is dexterously manipulated. All the years of the novel are assumed
to exist simultaneously, and the film moves in and out of them
as it needs to. The changes are almost always immediately clear,
but even when a change is briefly ambiguous, this contributes
to the paramount effect: of being suspended in a magical vessel
full of time.
Stanley Kaufmann, The New Republic
went to London last week to talk to Harold Pinter about Proust
and about the screenplay. The conversation took place in Pinter's
study. As he spoke-and he spoke well, but with so much pensive
hesitation that his speech at times seemed disjoined-I was reminded
of something Proust said about creativity-that it is born "not
of conversation and the light of day but of darkness and silence.
"Can I just say one thing? " Pinter said almost
as soon as we sat down. "And that is that I'm delighted that you're
interested well clearly you're more than interested-but what
I'm really saying, however, is that I don't find the thing terribly
easy to talk about. I don't find Proust terribly easy to talk
about. You understand what I mean. "
"You're finished with it, of course, " I said.
"In a sense, it's over for you. As a rule, do you care to talk
about work you've finished? "
"No, I do not. I find it extremely difficult.
And don't, in fact, but very, very rarely. But as you can well
imagine what this encounter with Proust meant for me. Don't forget
that this whole thing happened very hot off the oven for me I
read Proust for three solid months. For those three months I would
do nothing else but read Proust all day, and I emerged, to say
the least, dizzy, I say this in my introduction-which really killed
me to write actually. Very difficult-to be precise. That's why
it is so short, by the way. And then I was totally imbedded in
the thing for nine months after that. I really felt alive throughout
the year, and normally as Monsieur Proust himself says, one doesn't.
The actual reading was in fact an inspiration. I have to use that
word. It was a profound-a very large experience. And yet I wasn't
left with the feeling that I was dealing with a blockbuster, if
you will. I mean, you can't miss a word in Proust, can you? You've
got to read every damn word because it is so precise and so considered
and so felt. I was left with the power and significance of the
most delicate sort of experience. I remember my first conversation
with Joseph Losey just after I'd finished the reading. I went
to him and I said "Well, what the hell to do? We hadn't made any
decisions whatsoever at that point. Nobody knew what was going
to go or be sacrificed, or what form the thing could possibly
take. Eventually, one day when I was in more than my usual despair,
Joe said, "There's only one thing to do. Go home tomorrow morning
and start, just start. So what I was immediately plunged into
was the question of what caught me-well everything caught me,
I was totally consumed-but what I was aware of in terms of film.
I'm pretty sure that I suddenly went straight into images. I actually
threw a lot of images down on paper and found myself left with
them. And that's how I got started. "
As his first shot, Pinter has a detail, a patch
of yellow wall from Vermeer's View of Delft.
The patch of yellow wall will appear again as
the last shot. Over the image is heard the voice of Marcel: It
was time to begin."
Stephen Menich, The Voice,
December 12 1977
'The Proust Screenplay on BBC Radio' by Mary
Bryden (Pinter Review 1995-6)
'On the screenplay of 'A la Recherche du Temps
Perdu' by Harold Pinter (Various Voices Prose, Poetry, Politics
1948-1998 Faber and Faber)'