You worked with an amazing cast of different nationalities - was that a challenge?
The film is about a collision of cultures and the story is about a collision of cultures. You obviously have to make a choice about how you’re going to deal with a story that deals with three different nationalities. Once I’d made the decision that it was all going to be spoken in accented English it didn’t seem to be an issue, it seemed to echo what was going on in the film.
You’ve made quite a few changes from the book.
The task of adapting a book is compression and distillation - finding the same thematic route to a tentative, poignant conclusion that is as much about damage as it is about rebirth and regeneration. Those were the themes in the book that I found so powerful, and which were also suggested by the landscape that we filmed in - the fact that these people just rebuilt after a war and an earthquake.
Are you worried about the reaction of fans of the book?
Not really. It seems to me the important thing about making a movie of a book is to make something that can stand on its own, side by side, shoulder to shoulder with the original. It’s important to honour the themes, the ideas, characters, and atmosphere of the book but it would have been difficult to follow the narrative style. But we reach the same destination and Louis de Bernières is very happy.
Find out more about John Madden.
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