May 22, 2012

Cannes likely to honor literary film this year


The Cannes Film Festival's prestigious Palme d'Or award

The Cannes Film Festival is in full swing this week, and the Guardian’s Charlotte Higgins has surmised that its coveted prize, the Palme d’Or, will most likely be presented to a film based on a book. While the festival has historically eschewed adaptations (only two have won in the past), Higgins points out that this year, they’re some of the most anticipated selections:

All eyes are on Walter Salles’s adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s modern classic On the Road, which premieres on Wednesday. Meanwhile, David Cronenberg’s version of CosmopolisDon DeLillo’s 2003 novel of gleaming surfaces, set in a billionaire’s limo – is also one of the festival’s eagerly anticipated films.

The prevalence of literary adaptations represents a fairly significant departure from what many consider to be Cannes’ ethos, which has traditionally celebrated the idea of an auteur, with the director executing his or her own original vision. While some embrace the way directors can bring new and transformative energy to their source material (Higgins cites Variety critic Leslie Felperin), the editor of film magazine Sight and Sound, Nick James, dismisses adaptations as a “lesser form of cinema,” driven by commercial rather than artistic motivation. Nonetheless, Higgins concludes that “there is a strong chance the coveted Palme will go to a film-of-the-book.”

Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.