Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Review (Adaptation Comparison): The Paradise (adapted from Au Bonheur des Dames, by Emile Zola)

Emile Zola’s cautiously optimistic social commentary on the mass culture leviathan of the industrial age, the luxurious department store, Au Bonheur Des Dames, is the basis of the historical drama, The Paradise. Guess which part of that description the BBC executives focussed on. 

By the time they released the series collection it seems they (or at least the marketers) realised they’d not created an adaptation of Zola’s novel, but an economically lavish costume drama. Although the title cards of each episode claim the show is based on ‘a novel by Emile Zola,’ scouring the series' DVD packaging I can find no reference to Zola, his novel, or that this is an adaptation at all. Probably for the best. The reason, in the modern entertainment landscape, to superficially adapt a property is to have inbuilt name recognition. Call me condescending, but I don’t believe many Britishers or Americans have knowledge of 19th century French literature, much less a knowledge of Emile Zola. ‘Adapted from a novel by Emile Zola’ sells far less than does ‘19th century costume drama.’

Friday, 13 February 2015

Review: If the Moon Smiled, by Chandani Lokuge

If the moon smiled, she would resemble you.
You leave the same impression
Of something beautiful, but annihilating.

-        Sylvia Plath, The Rival

Born in Sri Lanka, and though now in Australia, Manthri’s never quite left it. Her watercolour childhood crumbles away under her culture’s idea of womanhood. In Australia, with her family, her patriarchal husband, and thoroughly Western children, her life peels away. She finds herself trapped in land that does not support her culture, and trapped in a culture that does not care for her happiness. If she loves her husband, that love sleeps below layers of bondage and despair. She loves her children, but she knows, ‘With my love of [them] I built a husk around me. And lay secure in its warmth. But they skin the husk as it dries, layer by layer.’