After the recent gem of an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ by Baz Luhrmann it looks like we will once again get to see classic early 20th Century works of literature on the big screen. William Faulkner’s 1929 novel ‘The Sound and the Fury’ has recently been announced to be under direction of James Franco, while Steven Spielberg will take on the project of adapting Steinbeck’s ‘Grapes of Wrath’ as a producer.
‘The Sound and the Fury’
This will be James Franco’s second Faulkner screen adaptation as he directed the film released earlier this year at Cannes entitled ‘As I lay dying’. It is not surprising how Franco, the young scholar, will be taking under the tall task of adapting some of the greatest novels of all time into his own imagining. His extensive academic background and impressive career in acting, writing, directing, and even painting have lead him to appreciate classic art work. I believe it will be a perfect opportunity for him to really show off what he is capable in achieving as one of the best upcoming Hollywood directors/actors.
The Sound and the Fury takes place in Jefferson, Mississippi about the Compson family who are southern aristocrats who are reeling to keep all the pieces together in their family’s demise. The once respected Compson family faces financial struggles, loss of religious faith, and surmounting deaths of family members. The story is told in four sections with the first being from 33 year old Ben Compson who has several mental issues. The next section is told through his older brother Quentin Compson 18 years earlier who eventually commits suicide. The third section jumps back to 1928 about the younger brother Jason Compson, and the final section is told in a third person viewpoint which mainly focuses on Jason and their black servant Dilsey. This work uses many literary techniques including a stream of consciousness of the POV characters which will be a difficult task for Franco in its screen adaptation.
News also recently broke that Franco will try to cast Mad Men’s John Hamm as Mr. Compson as long as his schedule will work out in upcoming production days. This will be a huge asset to the film and I would say a must with Hamm’s surge to the forefront of Hollywood over the past few years.
‘Grapes of Wrath’
According to Deadline.com Spielberg and Dreamworks are negotiating with the Steinbeck estate over the rights to the film. Spielberg declined the position as the director of the new film but rather a producer. The 1939 novel by John Steinbeck won him the acclaim of National Book Award, a Pulitzer prize, and lead to his eventual Nobel Prize in 1962.
The story is about the Joad family during the Great Depression who are forced to leave their farm due to a devastating drought in Oklahoma. The story picks up in their journey westward to California where they seek a new life of opportunity.
This novel was also adapted in 1940 by John Ford who later went on to win an Academy Award for best director. The film was also up for 6 other nominations including Best Picture. According to Deadspin.com Ford was Spielbergs childhood inspiration which lead him to pursue a position as producer in another adaptation.