Stage-Bound: Feature Film Adaptations of Canadian and Québécois Drama
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Since the 1990s many of Canada's best-known filmmakers, such as Denys Arcand, John Greyson and Robert Lepage, have looked to the stage for inspiration. While feature-film adaptations of Canadian plays have become increasingly common, the practice of turning drama into film began in Canada in 1942 when Hilda Hooke Smith's Here Will I Nest was brought to the screen. Some adaptations, such as Wedding in White and Being at Home with Claude, enjoyed a fair measure of success; others, such as Me and Les Celebrations, have fallen into oblivion. Some stayed close to the dramatic structure of the original; others sought to explode the limits of the stage to create a greater cinematic effect. But virtually all adaptations have engaged with, rather than denied, their theatrical origins. that these movies remain too rigidly anchored to the stage; too stage-bound. Stage-Bound, an extensive study of feature film adaptations of English Canadian and Quebecois drama, challenges this reductive interpretation. Andre Loiselle demonstrates that theatricality is central to the meaning of these works. In the process, he reclaims these stage-bound films, which have generally been ignored by scholars.
artificial deus-ex-machina apparitions. But a more probable explanation for the absence of explicit religious visions in the film is the transitional period of its production. By the early 1950s, the church along with its political ally, the ultraconservative Union nationale party, led by the formidable Maurice Duplessis, had already started to lose some of the overwhelming power it had exerted over the population of Quebec. As Christiane Tremblay-Daviault explains in her close analysis of the
distortions of reality related to Marie-Louise. The negative connotations, deceitfulness, fabrication, and theatricality evident in the field scene are also in stark contrast to the scenes that bracket it, which are shot in bright, sunny outdoors. The former, set in a bucolic glade, shows Maurice (Roch Poulin), MarieLouise’s surprisingly gentle young son, kindly consoling Aurore after an outburst of violence from her stepmother, and the latter begins with Catherine closely followed by the
does not play the role of raisonneur, therefore, but rather of defender of an institution – the Catholic Church – set on denying individual liberty. And, even if the padre does represent the voice of reason in the play, it is important to note that circa 1948, reason had acquired a dubious function in the cultural discourse of French Canada. Reason and logic were being used by religious conservatives in a sophist chap_02.fm Page 67 Wednesday, July 23, 2003 10:39 AM Early Thresholds of Theatre
where characters like Hélène Primeau have failed. Her confinement, however, has less to do with the actual prison in which she is sequestrated than with the jailer who controls her every move. In fact, Dolores herself unwittingly recognizes that Floyd does not need to use chains to enslave her. “When I was younger,” she tells Stephen, “Daddy used to put a chain on my leg when he was away, but now he knows he doesn’t have to. He never did. I wouldn’t run away from him […] I can’t leave Daddy. I
proscenium stage,” upon which old Simon, recently out of prison, presents scenes from his adolescence acted by male exconvicts to a bewildered Bilodeau, now a respected clergyman. In the film, the setting is the prison where Simon (Aubert Pallascio) is wrongly incarcerated for Vallier’s murder and where he organized a stage rendition of their troubled relationship performed by inmates to incriminate their sole spectator, Bishop Bilodeau (Marcel Sabourin). While the play strictly respects the