Adaptation Analysis: Graham Greene’s and Neil Jordan’s The End of the Affair

My film adaptation series continues on my Cinematic Syntax with an examination of Graham Greene’s The End of The Affair and Neil Jordan’s adaptation. Surprisingly, this is the first novel I have written an adaptation analysis on and I am not disappointed with the novel chosen. For useful information, I use John Desmond’s chapter on “The Novel” in his book (Adaptation: Studying Film and Literature) throughout the piece, and make it clear that it is necessary to cut when adapting a novel because of the sheer amount of content. A film sticks to an average run-time of two hours, give or take, so it cannot fully contain the immensity of a novel. Without further delay, here is The End of the Affair.

The adaptation of Graham Greene’s The End of The Affair successfully portrays the story’s general themes. Some themes in both versions are the struggles with religious belief and unbelief, the effect of the miraculous, the power of love, and marriage as safety. In an interesting move, director Neil Jordan omits Greene’s references to love and hate inextricably tied as two sides of the same coin. Although the film opens: “this is a diary of hate,” which is truncated compared to Bendrix, who is the main character, and his constant rumination: “So this is a record of hate far more of love…” (1) it does not seem to connect love and hate as much as Greene’s original.  In contrast to the original, the film’s ending is reordered with scenes that occur earlier in the novel. Although Jordan keeps Bendrix as a writer in the film, Greene’s novel solidifies the writer’s process, lifestyle, and routine. Greene’s reference to many aspects of writing seems to be his personal meditation on the profession. However, for Jordan’s he chose to visually emphasize the style and sounds associated with his character’s trade (typewriter, zooming into a sheet of paper, and clicking). One of the most notable choices for the novel is its use of the temporal. Greene cleverly switches between different stages of WW2— all shown through various stages of an affair. To comment on this, Jordan uses cinematic techniques to interrupt the present with flashbacks of the past. 

Continue reading