The Executioner: By the Neck By David Cairns
Designing for del Toro By Eric Skillman
Novel-to-film conversions have not historically had the highest success rate, but the selections in this week’s festival of free films on Hulu, Adaptations, pass with flying colors. These are all terrific movies that honor their literary sources while being singular works of art in their own right. Take your pick: Jean Renoir’s film of Emile Zola’s La bête humaine; Max Ophuls’s The Earrings of Madame de . . ., a visualization of a novel by Louise de Vilmorin; Jean-Pierre Melville’s version of Jean Cocteau’s Les enfants terribles; Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris, based on Stainslaw Lem’s science-fiction classic; The Tin Drum, Volker Schlöndorff’s Oscar-winning film of Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass’s novel; and John Huston’s and Louis Malle’s adaptations of two novels previously thought unfilmable: Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano and Raymond Queneau’s Zazie dans le métro, respectively.
Also included is Schlöndorff’s Swann in Love, a lavish 1984 film based on Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way, the first book in the author’s epic In Search of Lost Time. It’s material that most filmmakers wouldn’t dare touch, so difficult to capture on-screen are its intricacy and interiority, but Schlöndorff’s film is successful, often rapturously so. It also boasts quite a gorgeous cast—Jeremy Irons, Alain Delon, Ornella Muti, Fanny Ardant, and Marie-Christine Barrault—and features a screenplay cowritten by Peter Brook and Jean-Claude Carrière. Watch it in its entirety below or at Hulu. And remember that if you sign up for Hulu Plus for just $7.99 a month, you can see these and hundreds of other Criterion films commercial-free, anytime.