Bill Naughton wrote both the stage play and the screenplay for the film. Consider how Bill Naughton adapts his play for the medium of cinema by analyzing in detail:
* Two or three of the new scenes added for the film
* The use of the camera in making one or two other scenes dramatically effective
On camera Bill Naughton had fewer boundaries than those he faced in writing the stage play because you have much more practicality, like settings, in a movie. Not only could he adapt existing scenes but he could also add new scenes in other settings which add variety and interest, such as the end of the screen play which is the same as the beginning, a shot of the whole town; giving the film a sense of completion.
The opening scene of the film shows Rafe playing football with a group of children which is followed by him having a conversation with Mr. Duckworth, his neighbor. This scene humanizes Rafe and shows that he can relax. The scene is set outside which shows variation that is not possible in a stage play. He talks to Mr. Duckworth about what the world is coming to and that children are much better off but less grateful than he was as a child. This shows that he is a traditional man, with old fashioned views and ideals, but also that he does have a fun side.
Bill Naughton added a scene to the film which shows Florence and Arthur looking around their new house. The scene begins with tension between the two of them; there was stilted conversation, hesitation and uncomfortable body language. Arthur kisses Florence and they decide to make love. Arthur is shown on the dominant side of the screen because men are seen as the dominant partners in sexual relationships. The scene is set in a room with white walls which suggests purity to the audience. The pair are half hidden by flowers which makes it romantic because flowers are a traditional symbol of romance. The way that Florence’s shoe and coat just fall off demonstrates the intimacy and closeness in the couples relationship.
On camera, Bill Naughton was able to include scenes in different settings, not just in the Crompton household. This allows comparisons to be made. For example, the audience is shown what life is like in the Duckworth household when Hilda runs away after the herring episode. Everyone is very open in Betsy’s house. Mr. and Mrs. Duckworth aren’t talking to each other so they talk through Betsy; we are given the impression that this happens a lot. Mr. Duckworth looks at Hilda in a suggestive manner, openly, in front of his wife. Mrs. Duckworth talks to Hilda with inappropriate comments such as:
“He is just being grumpy because he didn’t get his way with me last night!”
Hilda’s pregnancy is made obvious in this scene. She seems naive; it could be that this is the first time she had thought about being pregnant, or that she had been trying not to think about her situation. None of the inappropriate goings on in the Duckworth household would occur in the Crompton household and these scenes are here to show just how different their lives are, often Naughton used Crompton scenes following Duckworth scenes to illustrate this point further.
In his adaptation of the bible scene Bill Naughton did not change a lot of the actual lines the actors were to say, but he used the camera and characters positions well to show who is siding with whom and how people feel about the situation. Rafe is often on the dominant side of the screen, the right, which shows the power he has over his family. His standing whilst the rest of his family sits also demonstrates this. Showing all the family in shot without him clearly shows the audience that he is cut off from them. In this scene the people are shown on camera in groups or pairs to show who is siding with whom. For example, Florence is in shot with Rafe, she always sides with her dad and Wilfred is in shot with Daisy because she is worried about him and she knows how Rafe can take things too far. When Arthur stands up to Rafe, he is on the dominant side of the screen, which makes him seem the stronger of the two, and he wins the confrontation. The camera then focuses on Rafe and we see Arthur and Florence leaving in the background which shows that Rafe has lost Florence to Arthur.
The penultimate scene, the chase between Daisy and Rafe, is probably the most dramatically effective scene in the film. This is because it is the part of the film the audience has been waiting for, to see how the plot will resolve itself. In this scene the camera starts with a close up of Daisy when she knows that Rafe will not find his coat, and then as she runs towards the canal there is a receding shot of her from behind. This could symbolize the family losing her. When Rafe and Daisy are together in the tunnel Daisy is on the dominant side of the screen. This is unexpected because he has just saved Daisy and is looking after her. It could show that he has softened since the beginning of the film. At the end of the scene the camera shoots Daisy and Rafe as they walk out of the dark tunnel, the camera stays in the darkness. This symbolizes times that are easier and a new beginning.
The adaptation of the stage play into a screenplay involved adding new scenes, such as the scene between Florence and Arthur in their new home, it also involved making changes in scenes that were already there to make them more interesting, for example the chase scene between Daisy and Rafe. These things were done because with film it is possible to have different settings, whereas in a stage play there can only be one or two settings, for practical reasons. This change in setting adds variation and therefore interest, which is essential to keep the attention of the audience.
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