Monday, January 6, 2014

The Maze - some thoughts

Panos Karnezis is a Greek writer who writes quite brilliantly in English. The first book of his I read is called “Little Infamies” and I loved it. I enjoyed it so much that I went on to read his novel “The Maze” and was so intrigued and taken with the story I decided, just for the sheer joy of it, to write a full length screenplay without even thinking of such things as film rights or whether a film would ever be made. At the time that didn’t seem important. I just wanted to reproduce this wonderful story in my own way and in my own style in a different medium, just to write about all these intriguing characters., so human yet so wonderfully theatrical at the same time.
The synopsis on the book cover reads – “Set in Anatolia in 1922 The Maze is the story
Of a retreating Greek brigade that has lost its way. It is pursued by a Turkish army that seeks to avenge three years of Greek occupation. No help is forthcoming. Commanded by a brigadier with a passion for Greek mythology and morphia, the brigade’s only chance of salvation is to reach the Mediterranean coast and sail home
As the army wanders through the Anatolian desert, their internal divisions become more pronounced and their dementia more florid. Eventually they reach a small town, up until now untouched by the war, which is run by a simple minded mayor and peopled by a gallery of wonderfully strange characters. When the soldiers leave at last, a tragedy has taken place and the town has changed forever.”
A synopsis simply cannot give justice to the depth of this adventure and the characters involved: the brigadier himself, the corporal in love he thinks with a girl in Thessaloniki who he has never met and whose letters he cherishes not knowing his beloved is a middle-aged bearded communist trying to convert him to the cause,
the aide-de-camp who is also a secret communist, the chaplain with his pet dog who has to beg oil from the cook to light his votive lamps, the upper class airman who crash- lands close to the regiment’s camp and whose actions unintentionally lead to two deaths, the overworked medic, the florid French opera-singing whore who the mayor hopes to marry much to the disgust of the local schoolteacher who wants her for himself and feels stabbed in the back by a one time friend, the stray horse that shits its way to the town thus leading the soldiers to it and has, with the mayor and dignitaries  and at the mayor’s insistence, have its photograph taken by a correspondent who just happens to have a camera.
The boy scouts who, as they march out of town and out of step, are heard singing Greece shall never die.
My screenplay is full of directions as to how I would shoot the film if I were directing it. I can see it so clearly in my mind’s eye, frame by frame. Another director would of course ignore my suggestions and go his own way.
Mr. Panos’ story would make a wonderful major motion picture and is too good to be wasted. Has no one in the business thought of it? If not, why not?
If ever it is made into a film, knowing how long these things take, I doubt I’ll be around to see it, which is a matter for regret.

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