5 years ago

Door in the Floor movie trailer

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Door in the Floor movie trailer .John Irving never believed his novel A Widow for One Year, which spans 37 years and three generations, would make a coherent film. It took an unknown director with a radical plan to change his mind then I adapted my novel The Cider House Rules to a screenplay, the hardest part was compressing the passage of time. (In the book, Homer Wells delays his return to the orphanage at St Cloud's for 15 years; in the film, he is away from the orphanage for barely more than a year.) I saw no way to make a movie of A Widow for One Year, because in the novel the feeling of the passage of time is as important as any major character.

Ruth Cole's story is told in three parts, each focusing on a critical time in her life. The first part takes place during the summer Ruth is four, when her mother leaves her and her father. (Ruth's mother, Marion, is grief-stricken over the deaths of Ruth's two older brothers. Marion is not just leaving her womanising husband; she can't bear to love her daughter, Ruth, out of fear that she might lose her, too.)

The second window into Ruth's life opens when she is an unmarried 36-year-old whose personal life is not nearly as successful as her literary career. She distrusts her judgment in men, with good reason. (Her father, Ted Cole, who is now 77, kills himself because he sees how his sexual lawlessness has influenced his daughter's sexual choices.)

A Widow for One Year closes when Ruth Cole is a 41-year-old widow and mother. Her mother, Marion, who is now 76, will re-enter Ruth's life after a 37-year absence.

An impossible story structure to mimic in film. The passage of time resonates in many novels; it often enhances a reader's emotional attachment to the characters. Movies, for the most part, struggle with the passage of time, which can have the negative effect of distancing an audience from the characters.

I rejected several proposals for a film that began when Ruth was already a widow - the rest of the story would have been a flashback. The most emotionally affecting character in the novel is Ruth's mother, Marion; the most devastating part of the story (in the novel and the film) is the loss of Ted and Marion's sons. The death of those boys, from which Marion never recovers, makes her incapable of remaining in her daughter's life. I couldn't accept losing the premise of the novel in a flashback.

Then Tod Williams came along with his brilliant idea: to make only the first part of the novel, up to when Marion leaves. Make Marion and Ted the main characters. (Ruth is just a child; she doesn't get to be the eponymous widow.) Make it a darker story - about the grief Marion can't get over, about how Ted hides his grief in philandering. Eddie O'Hare, the hapless writer's assistant to Ted - and Marion's 16-year-old lover - is, as he is described in the novel, a pawn.

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