Prize-winning writer David Constantine impressed by film adaptation of short story

David Constantine
David Constantine

It isn’t often that a writer actually praises the director who turned his story into a film.

Many writers are in despair when they see the big screen version of their novel or short story and wonder why they were not invited to write the screenplay.

Not so David Constantine.

His short story In Another Country has been adapted into the award winning motion picture 45 Years, starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtney.

And he loves it.

David didn’t even object to the fact that the story was updated, that the husband and wife were younger and the setting was moved from Wales to Norfolk. And he particularly liked director Andrew Haigh’s decision to build the film around a party celebrating the couple’s fortyfifth wedding anniversary. None of which appears in his story.

But for David the important thing was that Haigh maintained the spirit and pathos of the original and none more clearly than in the final heart-wrenching moments of the film when the camera is on Charlotte Rampling who, without speaking a word, says it all.

David will be guest speaker at Charleston near Lewes on September 26 as part of the Small Wonder short story festival.

He will be discussing the film with a guest, whose identity is being kept a closely guarded secret by Charleston.

His story appeared in his first collection, Under the Dam, published by Comma Press in 2004.

Unknown to him, Andrew Haigh read the story and said he wanted to make a film of it, although it was a decade before he was able to achieve that ambition.

But once the two stars were on board, money for the production became a certainty.

“I’ve seen the film twice now,” David explained, “and despite the changes I am really impressed that Andrew kept in so many key elements.”

David Constantine has won the BBC National Short Story Award and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. His Selected Stories, and a new novel, The Life Writer, are published this summer.

Small Wonder opens at Charleston on September 23 and continues until September 27, with a line-up of some of the world’s finest short story writers.

On Sunday, September 27, at 12pm, Jane Gardam will be announced as the winner of this year’s Charleston-Chichester Award for a Lifetime’s Excellence in Short Fiction. She will read from some of her stories and will be in conversation with Di Speirs, books’ editor for BBC Radio.

The full festival programme is available on Charleston.org.uk/smallwonder or by picking up a brochure.

Tickets are on sale through Brighton Dome 01273 709709 or online through brightonticketshop.com.

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