May 30, 2012
May 28, 2012 was the centenary of the birth of Patrick White. Many of us from the conference went down to a special screening of The Eye of the Storm, directed by Fred Schepisi, featuring Charlotte Rampling as a dying matriarch, still gorgeous and still greedy, and still with a stranglehold over her two children and her family solicitor (played by Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis, John Gaden).
The producer, Antony Waddington, was there, and there was a lot of general discussion about films adapted from literature: the big commercial releases; quirkier ones such as James Franco as Allen Ginsberg in Howl; and — “literature” broadly defined — Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan in I’m not There. And Charlotte Rampling? Well, the last time I saw her, she was Madame Ranevskaya in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, an aging expatriate just returned from France. So I’ve always associated her with some kind of diaspora, or diaspora in reverse. Is she Australian herself? No, she’s English.
Antony Waddington talked about the screening at the Seattle Film Festival and the upcoming MOMA screening. He didn’t know the theme of our conference, but he was giving us a coda anyway. “Is Australian Literature a World Literature?” – yes, of course, especially when there’s translation involved, in this case, translation into a different medium, worldly out of necessity, if for no other reason.
After the screening we walked all around the harbor following the Vivid Lights Festival, looking at the projections on the Sydney Opera House, a gigantic screen, as well as smaller improvisations all over the city, including one in an underpass. That too seemed a coda.